Kurdish representatives in Syria refuse to attend Russia peace talks following Turkey's offensive against Afrin

Beirut: Authorities in Syria's Kurdish autonomous region said on Sunday they would not attend peace talks in Russia's Sochi next week because of Turkey's offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

"We said before that if the situation remained the same in Afrin we could not attend Sochi," regional official Fawza al-Yussef said. Rebel backer Turkey is one of the sponsors of the talks in the Black Sea resort on Monday and Tuesday, along with Damascus allies Russia and Iran.

 Kurdish representatives in Syria refuse to attend Russia peace talks following Turkeys offensive against Afrin

Representational Image. Reuters

Turkey's military offensive in Afrin "contradicts the principle of political dialogue", Yussef said.

Turkey launched operation "Olive Branch" on 20 January against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in Afrin, supporting Syrian opposition fighters with ground troops and air strikes.

Ankara says the YPG is a "terrorist" offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is proscribed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

The Sochi talks come after multiple failed rounds of UN-brokered talks to end Syria's seven-year war.

On Saturday, Syria's main opposition group, the Syrian Negotiation Commission, also said it would not attend the negotiations. More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war began in 2011.

The conflict began with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, but has since evolved into a complex war including jihadists and foreign powers.

Updated Date: Jan 28, 2018 17:20:48 IST