BRUSSELS, Belgium - The leader of a Kurdish enclave in Syria said that the US-led coalition forces fighting the Islamic State group (ISIS) can operate from bases in its territory.
Saleh Muslim, leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that controls Syria’s Kurdish regions, or Rojava, also said that moderate Syrian opposition forces can be trained in its territories, instead of in Turkey.
"We would welcome the coalition to operate from Rojava and we would welcome the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to train there too," Muslim said in an exclusive interview from Brussels with Britain’s Sky News.
Ankara has recently actively joined the coalition against ISIS, but Saleh scorned that pledge as "not genuine."
While declaring a war against terrorism and jihadis late last month, Ankara turned its guns on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with a series of air and artillery attacks in Turkey’s own southeast and in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, where the group has military camps.
The PYD is the Syrian wing of the PKK, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by several Western countries, including the United States. Yet, the PYD’s fighting wing, the YPG, has been a strong ally of the US-led coalition against ISIS in Syria and recognized as the most effective force on the ground against the militants.
“We favor a democratic decentralized Syria," Muslim said in the interview, adding that the political structures in Rojava are “the example of what the whole country should have."
Syria’s Kurds have been calling for a federal system in Syria in which different groups can co-exist. That proposal has been opposed by Turkey, which is loath to having an autonomous Syrian enclave on its border, next to its own restive Kurdish-populated areas.
Muslim also made a call to train moderate Syrian Arab factions in Rojava.
“We can help them, we can train them," said Muslim. "But we are not going to fight their war for them. We will support them all we can but we are not mercenaries for them."
Moderate Syrian forces are being trained in Turkey under a joint agreement with the United States.