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Syrian Kurdish YPG disowns outcome of Astana talks

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Syrian Kurdish militia the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), said on Monday that it would not be bound by any decision that comes out of peace talks in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana, due to end Tuesday.

According to Reuters, YPG said in a statement on Monday “As we are not participating in these talks, we stress that we are not bound by any decisions issued from the Astana conference.”

We in the YPG believe the entities that are participating and that have sponsored these talks are part of the problem in Syria in the first place,” YPG said.

The Astana talks, which started on Monday and are scheduled to end on Tuesday, are the first time in which the opposition and representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have come together since UN-brokered talks in Geneva.

According to a statement from the Kazakh Foreign Ministry on Sunday, the talks were to start at 1 p.m. (7 a.m. GMT) on Jan. 23 in Astana and were scheduled to end on the afternoon of Jan. 24.

There are no senior government figures among the delegations, with Deputy Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Sedat Önal representing Turkey and Russia’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov representing Russia.

While Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari, an experienced negotiator involved in the failed talks in Geneva, will head the regime delegation, Mohamed Alloush of Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) will head the Syrian opposition’s delegation at the talks. He will lead a “military delegation” of around 14 people, in addition to 21 legal and political advisers from the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) umbrella group.

UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaber Ansari, US Ambassador to Astana George Krol and representatives of France, Britain and the EU will also participate in the talks.

In December, after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, discussed with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev the possibility of holding a meeting in Astana between the warring parties in the Syrian conflict, Putin said the leaders of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Russia were prepared to start peace talks.

The Turkey-Russia brokered Aleppo truce, which began in Syria on Dec. 30 to pave the way for the new peace talks, excluded terror groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

Kurdish rebel groups PYD and YPG, which control most areas of northern Syria, are being excluded from the talks in line with the wishes of Turkey.

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