Syrian Kurds favor attending Russia-backed peace talks, party head says

BEIRUT - The head of Syria's main Kurdish political party indicated on Wednesday his group favors attending a Russian-sponsored peace congress later this month, the first time the Kurds would participate in a major diplomatic push to end the war.
Shahoz Hasan said his Democratic Union Party (PYD) would advocate for its decentralized model for Syria, which it says is the only way to end the six-year-old conflict that has made half of Syrians homeless and killed hundreds of thousands.
"We tabled the democratic federal solution in mid-March of 2016, and without it there are no solutions but only rendering the Syrian crisis permanent," Hasan, PYD co-chair, said in written responses to questions from Reuters.
Although he did not firmly commit to attending the Nov. 18 peace conference in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi, he said a majority among the PYD and its allies now favored going: "We are discussing it and the majority view is to attend."
The PYD has emerged as one of the most powerful players in Syria since the eruption of the civil war in 2011.
Its armed affiliate, the YPG, controls swathes of northern Syria where Kurdish-led local administrations have been set up.
They are allied to the United States as the core of the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) that, with US air support and ground advisers, drove Islamic State from much of northern Syria and captured the militants' de facto capital Raqqa last month.
The main rebel groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad are planning to boycott the Nov. 18 peace congress in Sochi, which Moscow says will focus on a new constitution.
But attendance by the PYD could be important if it yields steps toward rapprochement between the Russian-backed government and the US-backed Kurds, which between them now control most of the country.

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