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article imageOp-Ed: Syrian forces enter cities of Kobane and Manbji after deal

By Ken Hanly     Oct 14, 2019 in Politics
A deal worked out between the Assad government and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Front forces in talks brokered by Russia has resulted in the Kurds handing over the two cities of Kobane and Manbji to Syrian government control along with Kurd forces.
A recent article notes: "Kurdish-led forces in control of north-east Syria have reached a deal with the Assad regime to stave off a bloody five-day-old Turkish assault, as more than 700 people with links to Islamic State have escaped from a detention camp in the area.Kurdish fighters controlling the region would surrender the border towns of Manbij and Kobane to Damascus in a deal brokered by Russia, officials said on Sunday night." The Turkish attack is leading to the return of ISIS to the areas attacked as ISIS prisoners escape and Kurdish guards are sent to fight the Turks.
A Turkish attack would create conflict with government forces
No doubt the Kurds hope that with Syrian government forces in the two areas the Turks will be reluctant to attack them. Any Turk attack could ever result in Russian intervention to help Syrian army and Kurd forces.
Koban dominated by Kurds is right near the border with Turkey. It had been contests by ISIS earlier. It would have likely been an early target of Turkish forces try to establish a 30 km wide safe zone. While Manjib is about 30 km from the border it has a majority Arab population that had been seized from ISIS in a join Kurd US offensive. Turkey's Arab allies are probably eager to take the city and keep it from control by the Syrian government.
The SDF Syria deal
The exact terms of the deal between Syria and the Kurd-led SDF are not known. However, the basic idea appears to be that Syrian forces will defend the western-most territory that Turkey is attacking. This could free up some Turkish fighters to fend of the Turks further to the east.
Originally Syria had resisted talks with the Kurdish-dominated SDF considering them separatists and agents of the US. However, the US abandoning any defense of the Kurds along the Turkish border. However, many of the Kurds sought in the longer term a federated Syria but with the Kurds having considerable autonomy. The US could be seen as leverage to support more autonomy for the Kurds. With the US letting the Kurds down as the Turks press for their safe zone, the situation seems to be ripe for a closer relationship of the Kurds to the Assad government. The Kurds had never taken the strong regime change position of the US and anti-Assad rebels.
While it is not clear what autonomy the Syrian government will allow the Kurds, for now they are united in an attempt to ward off Turkish incursions into Syria but at the same time the Kurds are allowing control of more territory by the Syrian government. US withdrawal in the face of the Turkish invasion has had a positive result for Assad and given him more power and influence over the Kurds a result hardly favorable to what many in the US will consider as their interest. However, it might be even more in US interests to simply withdraw from participation in Syria altogether. But there may be a sufficient number of hawks still within the US administration to stop this from happening.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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