Election Plans In Kurdish-Led Areas Of Syria A 'Joke', Says Syrian Minister
A senior Syrian government minister on Sunday (August 6) dismissed as a "joke" plans by the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria to hold elections and said they would not be allowed to threaten the country's territorial unity.
Deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad also said the Syrian government must eventually assert control over Kurdish-led areas, which until now Damascus has tolerated in an uneasy relationship.
Kurdish groups and their allies control swathes of the north in areas held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of fighters spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG.
At the end of July the Kurdish-led administration there set dates between late summer and January for local council and regional assembly elections in a move apparently aimed at consolidating its growing autonomy.
Mekdad also reiterated Syria's position that its government did not carry out a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun town in April.
The Syrian Kurds have established control over wide areas of northern Syria since the country erupted into civil war in 2011, and the People's Protection Units (YPG) has become a major partner in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
The SDF, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters is engaged in clashes against ISIS in northern Syria as part of an offensive to liberate ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa from the militant group.