Syrian rebels have accused Kurdish factions of being too close to the regime
Syria’s foreign minister is describing the role of US-backed Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State group in Syria as “legitimate.”
The comment at a news conference in Damascus on Monday is one of the strongest signs of support yet for Syria’s Kurds and a stab at Turkey, which deems Syrian Kurdish militias as “terrorists.”
A Kurdish-led Syrian force known as the Syrian Democratic Force has been the most effective fighting IS in Syria.
The SDF is often criticised by other Syrian rebel factions of being too close to the Syrian government.
Al-Moallem, using the Arabic acronym for IS, says: “I think that what the Syrian Kurds are doing in fighting Daesh is legitimate in the framework of their keenness on preserving the unity and integrity of Syrian territories.”
Ankara has deemed the SDF’s allies the YPG a terror organisation and the Syrian branch of the PKK, which has waged an insurgency since 1984 for Kurdish independence from Turkey in a conflict that has left tens of thousands dead.
The SDF has already seized most of Raqqa province as part of its “Wrath of the Euphrates” campaign, named after the major river that cuts across the northern part of Syria.
The SDF launched its fight for Raqqa in November, just a month after US-backed forces in neighbouring Iraq announced an offensive for IS’ other main stronghold, Mosul.