SDF rejected Syrian government offer to join its ranks - Assad

Syrian Kurdish armed groups that Turkey drove away from its borders in a military operation in October have refused an offer from the Damascus government to join its army, Turkish news site Duvar quoted Syrian President Bashar Assad as saying.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) lost large parts of the northern Syrian territory it gained control over during the eight-year conflict when Turkish forces launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9.

Ankara views the SDF as a terrorist organisation due to its links to outlawed Kurdish insurgents in Turkey, but the United States partnered with the group in the fight against the Islamic State and is now deploying forces alongside it in areas of northeast Syria.

This may explain why the SDF has rejected Assad’s proposal, which would reportedly require it to stop existing as a discrete organisation and instead join the ranks of the president’s Syrian Arab Army.

Assad expressed regret that the Kurdish-led group had chosen not to take sides with his forces to expel Turkey from Syrian lands, Duvar said, quoting Russian television station Rossiya 24.

Turkey captured a 120-km wide, 30-km strip of land during its military offensive, and has vowed to turn it into a “safe zone” where it will resettle some of its population of 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

Ankara gained assurances from Russia and the United States that the SDF and its allies would be expelled from the broader northern areas bordering Turkey in two agreements signed last month.

With those agreements, the SDF lost the most populous cities under its control, which lie on the border with Turkey. However, after U.S. President Donald Trump reversed his decision to fully withdraw from Syria and instead said he was leaving troops to “secure the oil” in areas held by the SDF, the group is now assured of a source of income from oil revenues.

Assad called the U.S. presence on Syrian territory an “occupation” and predicted that it would lead to violence.

"So, the U.S. occupation of Syria will give rise to a military confrontation which will lead to losses among the Americans and later to their withdrawal," Assad said.

"We certainly do not believe that any confrontation between the United States and Russia will occur on Syrian territory. It’s obvious and benefits neither us, nor Russia, nor global stability, and it is dangerous,” he said. “Still, the United States shouldn’t think that they are going to breathe easy in all regions that they occupy. We would like to remind them of Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria is not an exception here."