U.S. moving towards recognition of Kurdish-controlled Syrian provinces - newspaper

The United States is moving closer to diplomatic recognition of Kurdish-controlled provinces in Syria, Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat said.

“Washington is expected to soon take concrete steps towards diplomatically recognizing the eastern Euphrates region controlled by the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which amounts to an area of about 28,000 square kilometers, three times the size of Lebanon,” the newspaper wrote.

“The first ‘concrete sign’ of a change in the American position was given by U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, when he said Washington would send “diplomats” to SDF-controlled areas to work alongside the military,” Asharq al-Awsat said.

The move is part of a wider plan to keep the areas separated from Syria in the long-term until they can be recognised as independent, the newspaper reported.

“U.S. policy is leaning towards backing reconstruction initiatives, the strengthening of public services and infrastructure, training of government agencies, in addition to protecting SDF areas and the upkeep of military bases, later leading to diplomatic recognition,” it said.

Washington was also pushing for decentralisation and democracy on the local level in post-Islamic State (ISIS) Syria, the newspaper said.