PYD does not aim to establish Kurdish state, says PYD leader

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The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has been the source of a rift between Turkey and the United States over its designation as a terrorist organization by the former, was not aiming to establish a Kurdish state in Syria, the party’s head has said.

“We did not make that claim, we did not say it; we did not say ‘an independent Kurdish state,’” Salih Muslim, the head of the PYD, told Voice of America on Sept. 21, in response to a question asking if Turkey’s assertion that the PYD and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), wanted an independent Kurdish state in Syria.

“Our projects are open. Everything can be said to defame… We certainly reject this,” Muslim added.

The designation of the PYD and YPG has recently been a point of division between Turkey and the U.S. While the Turkish government says the two groups are offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and are thus terror organizations, the U.S. defines them as their most reliable partner in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northern Syria.

Muslim said that their main aim was for the establishment of a truly democratic Syria in which Kurds were also granted their democratic rights.

“A democratic Syria that is not centralist… There are Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs that have all been oppressed for years. A centralist and strict state is not appropriate. There needs to be both belief and ethnic freedom; some things need to be taken, obtained. The Syrian nation is fighting for this,” said Muslim.

By launching the Euphrates Shield Operation in late August, Turkey aimed to clear its border of ISIL, as well as the PYD and the YPG.

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