For over a year, much of northeastern Syria has found itself under de facto occupation by the United States and its military proxy, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The occupied territory, accounting for nearly a third of Syria’s total landmass and including large portions of the al-Hasakah, al-Raqqa and Deir Ez-Zor regions, has largely been overseen by the SDF, an umbrella group of militias dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which allied with the U.S. early in the conflict.
While the SDF has seemingly had complete control of the occupied territory — which boasts most of Syria’s oil, gas, freshwater and agricultural resources — it seems that increased local resistance to the SDF’s control of the region, as well as the U.S.’ failure to protect its allies elsewhere in Syria, has now pushed the YPG to reconsider its alliance with the United States and instead consider allying with the Syrian government, led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The clearest indication yet that the YPG’s relationship with the Syrian government is set to change dramatically came on Monday, when Al Masdar News reported that the YPG and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had reached a preliminary agreement in the al-Hasakah region that is set to lead to increased SAA influence in areas under YPG control. Per the agreement, the YPG has announced that it will remove all posters of Abdullah Ocalan — one of the founding members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is associated with the YPG — from areas under its control and will also allow the SAA to reopen recruitment offices throughout the region. The agreement came as a result of recent negotiations between Kurdish and Syrian government officials in both Damascus and Qamishli.