Astana meeting rejects Kurdish self-rule in northern Syria
The 16th International Meeting on Syria in the Astana Format, hosted in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan, declared its opposition to any self-rule in Syria’s Kurdish-majority northeast in a statement on Thursday, Kurdistan 24 reported.

In a statement the three countries of Russia, Turkey and Iran “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives under the pretext of combating terrorism”.

Additionally the three countries, in the statement “reaffirmed their determination to stand against separatist agendas in the east of the Euphrates aimed at undermining the unity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries”.

Northeast Syria is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) group, the main ally of the United States in its campaign against the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey staunchly opposes the group, repeatedly insisting that it is an extension of its arch-enemy, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and therefore a threat.

“Russia is trying to coordinate closely with Turkey on Syria, with the goal of boxing out the United States,” Nicholas Heras, a senior analyst and Program Head for State Resilience and Fragility at the Newlines Institute, told Kurdistan 24.

Both countries have a mutual interest in doing so, Heras went on to explain. For Russia, an indefinite U.S. military presence would make northeast Syria “indigestible for Damascus”.

Turkey, on the other hand, “is concerned that it will not be able to dismantle the SDF and turn all of the Kurdish areas in northern Syria into a Turkish-dominated security zone”.

 “Russia and Turkey both therefore have a deep understanding that they need to coordinate together to kick the U.S. out of Syria,” Heras told the Iraqi Kurdish outlet.

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