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US-backed Kurdish force 'negotiating with Assad on Raqqa handover' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

US-backed Kurdish force 'negotiating with Assad on Raqqa handover'

IS lost Raqqa after four months of ferocious fighting and bombing by the SDF [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 July, 2018

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Syrian Kurdish forces are reportedly negotiating a handover of the northern city of Raqqa to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

Syrian Kurdish forces are reportedly negotiating a handover of the northern city of Raqqa to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

The unnamed local sources said on Saturday that the political wing of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been involved in negotiations with the regime "in preparation for a handover of the Arab-majority city".

"The regime has set the condition that the Raqqa Revolutionaries Brigade is dissolved… its leader Abu Issa is handed over and fighters of the Arab faction are arrested," the report said.

Tensions have been rising between the SDF and the local rebel group, which previously fought alongside the Kurdish-dominated force to recapture the Islamic State group's former de facto Syrian capital.

Last Sunday, the SDF announced a two-day curfew in Raqqa, citing instability and fears of IS attacks.

The force also used the curfew to crack down on the Raqqa Revolutionaries Brigade, according to the targeted faction.

The Brigade posted a statement on its Facebook page on Sunday, saying its headquarters in Raqqa had been surrounded by the SDF.

The SDF arrested Brigade leader Abu Issa and more than 90 members of the faction.

Both sides claim to have popular support among Raqqa's majority Arab residents.

IS lost Raqqa after four months of ferocious fighting and bombing by the SDF and the US-led coalition that left the city in ruins.

This month, the SDF's political wing said it was ready for unconditional peace talks with the central government in Damascus after Assad he would not hesitate to use force to retake the country from their control.

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