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    A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters, raises a flag of the SDF near the village of Bir Fawaz, 20 km north of Raqqa, during their offensive towards the Islamic State (IS) group's Syrian stronghold as part of the third phase retake the city and its surroundings, on February 8, 2017

    Washington's Greater Middle East Project 'Aims at Creating Kurdish State'

    © AFP 2017/ DELIL SOULEIMAN
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    The United States has pursued a strategy that entails creating an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East, Chairman of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) Muslim Mihemed told Sputnik Turkey, commenting on recent rumors that Washington has promised to support Kurdish independence in exchange for Raqqa's liberation.

    "We believe that Washington's Greater Middle East project is aimed at creating Kurdistan among other things. There is a possibility of the US establishing a Kurdish state in Syria and Iraq. This depends on the one who came up with this initiative, Washington. We think that if this project truly exists, it must take into account the rights of all Kurds. Otherwise, establishing a Kurdish state would not be possible," he said.

    Washington has provided extensive support to the Kurdish forces fighting Daesh in both Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon has relied on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and has named the SDF as the main force tasked with liberating Raqqa, the capital of Daesh's self-proclaimed caliphate. The SDF is composed primarily of the People's Protection Units (YPG), Syria’s principle Kurdish military faction. The YPG are affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), one of the leading Kurdish political forces in Syria.

    Washington's reliance on the SDF prompted some to say that the US leadership has pledged to back the Kurds in their effort to achieve greater autonomy in Syria. Kurdish politicians told Sputnik that these claims are groundless.

    Salih Muslim, co-chairman of the PYD, said that he was not aware of any talks involving the Syrian Kurds and Washington with regard to creating an independent Kurdish state.

    "We have not heard anything on the issue. No one has promised us anything in return for conducting the operation in Raqqa. This information is not grounded in reality. It is a figment of the imagination of those who spread these speculations. This is a lie," he asserted.

    Chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria Mustafa Hanifi shared these sentiments.

    "There is not official information on this issue. For our part, we have not heard anything about such a deal. The operation in Raqqa is currently a priority for the United States. The fighting near the Tabqa Dam is ongoing. The United States and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) have carried out a joint operation against Daesh. I am not aware of any other agreements between the two," he said. "We have not heard anything about America's plans to establish a Kurdish state in Syria."

    Ewwas Eli, a senior member of the PYD responsible for foreign relations of the party's branch in Kobani, dismissed these speculations as not being grounded in reality.

    "We have created a federation in northern Syria, but it makes no mention of Kurdistan. It is called the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria," he said.

    Rezan Hiddo, Chairman of the Syrian Democratic Council (DSM), maintained that the operation aimed at liberating Raqqa is not linked to the political future of the Kurds.

    "We are determined to take part in the operation aimed at liberating Raqqa to free locals, our Arab brothers, from Daesh. Our goal is to liberate all those suffering from terrorists in Syria. We will conduct an operation in Deir ez-Zor if we receive a corresponding request. In other words we are ready to fight anywhere where Daesh is present," he said.

    Hiddo underscored that the Kurds want to achieve greater autonomy through negotiations since Syria is "our motherland."

    This image posted online on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show a gunman firing at an unseen target, east of of Palmyra, east of Palmyra city, in Homs provence, Syria
    © AP Photo/ Militant Photo
    "We want to discuss the issue of creating a federation with the Assyrians, Arabs, Circassians and other ethnic groups living in Syria. We believe that this system is the only way to resolve the Syrian crisis," he asserted.

    Nasir Hec Mansur, a commander with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), shared these sentiments, saying that a federation will help to bring the six-year-long war to an end. He also said that there were no talks on Kurdish independence with Washington.

    "We have not discussed this issue with the US leadership. Let those who claim otherwise ask the Americans. For our part, we have not conducted such negotiations. I am convinced that those who claim otherwise have no reliable information on the matter," he said.

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    Tags:
    independence, counterterrorism, Kurds, Syrian Kurds, Daesh, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Rezan Hiddo, Mustafa Hanifi, Muslim Mihemed, Salih Muslim, Raqqa, Syria, United States
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