01/29/2018, 10.51
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Syrian conflict: Russian peace talks in Sochi overshadowed by Turkish anti-Kurdish offensive

Kurdish leaders threaten to boycott peace talks on the Black Sea in response to the offensive launched by the Turks in the autonomous region of Afrin. The main anti-Assad group also abandons talks. The Turkish fighters damaged a 3 thousand year old Hittite temple.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Kurdish leaders in the autonomous region of northern Syria, scene of the offensive launched last January 20 by the Turks against the YGP militias (People's Protection Unit), will not participate in the peace talks in Sochi (Russia ) next week. This was confirmed by a senior official of the Kurdish regional government, Fawza al-Yussef, who said that "if the situation remains unchanged in Afrin, it will not be possible for us to participate" in the meetings forcefully requested by the Kremlin.

Together with Russia and Iran, allies of Damascus, Turkey - which supports anti-government rebels and a diverse galaxy of extremist groups - is one of the promoters of the meetings in Sochi, a Russian tourist resort on the Black SeaThe talks were supposed to start next February 5, but there are doubts about the participation of all the parties involved in the Syrian conflict.

According to the Kurdish leader al-Yussef, the Turkish military operation "contradicts political dialogue". Renamed "Olive Branch", the offensive launched last 20 January by the Turkish army with the help of some rebel factions long engaged in the Syrian conflict, intends to expel the Kurds from the region. Ankara is targeting the YGP fighting militias, which proved to be fundamental in the past in the fight against the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS). Turkey believes the Ypg militias are a "terrorist" group, linked to the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).

The Sochi talks represent a faint hope to end seven years of war and more than 340 thousand deaths, after repeated failures of peace initiatives promoted by the United Nations in meetings in Geneva (Switzerland) and Vienna (Austria). Over the weekend, the main anti-Assad opposition group, the Syrian Negotiation Commission, announced that it will not participate in the next week's Sochi meetings.

Meanwhile, the Turkish military operation continues in the region of Afrin, as confirmed by President Recep Tayyp Erdogan himself, who says he wants to eliminate all "terrorists" [the Kurds] from the border. During a speech held yesterday at a party meeting he returned to attack the United States for the armed support given to the Kurdish militias.

The air strikes launched by Ankara against Kurdish posts have damaged a Hittite temple with 3 thousand years of history behind it. The temple of Ain Dara, which dates back to the era between 1300 and 700 BC, is located in the Afrin enclave and has suffered more than 60% destruction. The Turkish fighters are also bombing the Syrian dike of Maydanki, with enormous risks for the civilian population.

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