Location of talks debated
Suleiman claimed the talks were being held at the Russian airbase Hmeimim in Latakia but another source said to be close to the Syrian government said they were taking place in the capital Damascus. Suleiman did not say whether he or his party which is independent of the SDF had any role in the talks. Russia is the most powerful ally of the Assad government.
The parties hope for a deal
A source close to the Syrian government said the talks had been taking place before and after the Turkish invasion of the Syrian border area.
Although Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office had no comment on Suleiman’s remarks he did say: “We have confirmed from the start of the (Turkish) invasion that we will study all options that could spare our people ethnic cleansing.”
Suleiman, who hails from Qamishli a city in a part of Syria held by the SDF said he hoped there would be a deal even though his party is not part of the SDF autonomous administration. Suleiman said: “We are now in Damascus, this is what I can say at present. We hope an agreement is reached that halts the war and its dangerous and catastrophic consequences on the citizens east of the Euphrates.”
US evacuation of border areas gives Turkey a green light to invade
As a recent article notes US troops withdrew from areas to be invaded by the Turks to avoid any conflict with them: “US officials had already made a big deal of withdrawing from northern Syria, but President Trump on late Saturday has finally ordered a full withdrawal from the area, covering about 1,000 troops that were still in potential combat areas.”
A UPI headline said that Trump had order all US troops out of Syria but actually Defense Secretary Mark Esper only said that troops would be ordered out of areas of possible conflict with the Turks: “Appearing on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Esper said approximately 1,000 U.S. troops in northern Syria will leave “as safely and quickly as possible,” adding they would not leave the country entirely but move south of Turkey’s attacks.”We want to make sure we deconflict a pullback of forces. We want to make sure we don’t leave equipment behind. So I’m not prepared to put a timeline on it, but that’s our general gameplan,” he said.”
Among many critics of Trump’s decision to withdraw troops was the former Defense Secretary: “Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led the Pentagon through the first two years of the Trump administration, warned during an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the president’s decision to pull troops from Syria’s border in advance of a Turkish incursion could have dire consequences and lead to ISIS’s resurgence.”We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don’t recover,” Mattis said in response to “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd’s question on whether the United States would regret Trump’s decision.” Already there are reports of ISIS prisoners escaping as some guards are sent to fend off the Turkish invasion.
The appended video has a useful map of Syria showing areas of control of various groups.