January 25, 2018 / 2:50 PM / in a month

Syrian Kurds won't attend Russia's Sochi congress: Kurdish official

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria’s main Kurdish groups have not received a final invite to a peace congress scheduled to take place in Russia next week and will not attend while a Turkish assault on Afrin continues, a senior Kurdish official said on Thursday.

When the Sochi congress was first mooted last year, Kurdish officials said they had been invited, and would attend.

But Badran Jia Kurd, adviser to the Kurdish-led autonomous administration that runs parts of northern Syria, said it had not received a formal invitation to the Syria congress since it was confirmed to be taking place on Jan. 29-30 in Sochi.

“Regarding our position on an invitation - if it happens - we will not attend the congress in the light of this barbaric, occupation aggression on Afrin,” Jia Kurd said. “How can there be discussion of the solution at a time when stable, secure areas are pushed towards anarchy and battles?” he said.

Syria’s main Kurdish groups, which control large areas in the north, have consistently been left out of Syrian peacemaking efforts in line with the wishes of Turkey, which sees their ascendancy in border regions as a national security threat.

The Turkish military, supported by allied Syrian militia fighters, launched a major offensive against the Afrin region of northwestern Syria on Saturday, saying it aimed to crush the Kurdish YPG fighters who control that part of Syria.

Jia Kurd said Russia had been planning to invite to Sochi Arab and Kurdish representatives of the autonomous administration.

Reporting by Ellen Francis; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean

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