ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Northern Syrian authorities and Damascus have agreed on a roadmap for negotiations after their first official meeting in the Syrian capital on Friday.
“This meeting led to the adoption of decision to form committees at various levels to develop dialogue and negotiations, ensure the end of violence and the conflict that endangers the Syrian people and society, and to chart a roadmap towards a decentralized, democratic Syria,” the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) announced in a brief statement Saturday morning.
The SDC is the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the armed forces battling ISIS alongside the global coalition in northern Syria. They are allied with the Kurdish administration of self-autonomous Rojava, TEV-DEM, and the Kurdish armed YPG and YPJ forces, and control more than a quarter of the country.
Salih Muslim, who heads up foreign relations for TEV-DEM, clarified that the talks with Damascus are very much in the preliminary stages.
The SDC delegation went to the capital to "take the pulse" of the regime, he told reporters on Saturday.
"This meeting can't be called negotiations. Perhaps preparation, or preparation for negotiations," he said.
Ilham Ahmed, executive head of the SDC, led the first official visit
of the body to Damascus on Friday for talks that began with repairing electricity infrastructure, particularly the Euphrates dam in Tabqa.
The dam, currently operated by the SDC, was damaged in clashes to liberate the site from ISIS and is running at only about 10 percent of its potential.
The Syrian regime has made significant military advances against rebel groups this year and is ready to exert its control over the entire country.
While the SDF and Kurdish forces have largely avoided confrontation with the Syrian regime, Damascus has threatened in the past to take northern Syria by force.
The Syrian regime objects to coalition support for the Kurdish forces, calling US and global forces on the ground in northern Syria “occupiers.”
Speaking at a UN Security Council session on Friday, Syria’s acting charge d’affaires at the UN Abdullah Hallaq said all international dealings in the country must be with the Syrian government “and not the so-called local councils, which are really only makeshift bodies affiliated to terrorist and rebel organizations.”
Updated at 12:14 pm