Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters in Syria. Photo: AFP
WASHINGTON DC, USA - The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) should take part in any peace talks as part of the political transition in Syria, Deputy State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said on Tuesday, because the PYD and its armed wing are a force on the ground.
"YPG is – YPD, rather – is a force on the ground, is a representative group, and their voice will need to be heard in any kind of long-term solution to the situation in Syria.” Toner said at a press briefing.
“And it’s in that spirit that we say that if there’s going to be…a political process that leads to a political transition, a more democratic one, that’s going to have to be accepted by all of the Syrian people," he added.
The YPG is Peoples Protection Units (YPG) which is the PYD’s armed group in the Kurdish areas of Syria known as Rojava.
Toner said that other countries might have their own stance on the PYD participation in future talks, but the US view was that the YPG was a reality.
“I don’t want to speak on behalf of or on the part of other members of the ISSG. Look, they weren’t part of this vetted Syrian opposition, moderate opposition that was put forward. You remember early on in the ISSG process there was this group that was put forward. But I think it’s always been our consideration – and, frankly, it’s just kind of, if nothing else, a realistic assessment of the fact that the YPG is force on the ground.” Toner explained.
Toner said that PYD's inclusion was important for a political solution to Syria's turmoil and that “at some point, they have to be a part of this process, is our consideration.”
Syria talks sponsored by Iran, Turkey and Russia through the UN are due to be held later this month in the Kazakh capital of Astana.
On US support for Syrian Kurds, Toner said they provide tactical support only and it was to Syrian Democratic Forces for their fight against ISIS.
“We do not provide weaponry, weapons to the YPG. We provide them with tactical support, air support for some of their operations,” he maintained. “We do that out of our belief that they are a very capable fighting force, as are other Syrian groups, like the Syrian Arabs and the Syrian Turkmen, in going after ISIL and going after Daesh. There is no other secondary reason for any kind of support we would offer these groups. And we’re mindful – sorry, just to finish – and we’re mindful of the sensitivities.”
Toner reiterated that Washington still considered the PKK “as a foreign terrorist organization, and we support Turkey in its efforts to confront that organization. And we strongly condemn the PKK’s actions to harm or kill Turkish security forces.”
He went on to say that the PYD’s focus different in its struggle.
“Well, a couple of points, but I think overall – and we’ve said this all along – is that while we believe that the focus of the YPD is on defeating Daesh, and we’re helping them as we – as they take that on, as I said, through tactical support, we’re also mindful of others’ views – and by “others” I mean the Turkish Government’s viewpoint – and the sensitivities around the YPD.”