BEIRUT — Representatives from Syria’s Kurdish-run northeastern region met with the government in Damascus last week to discuss self-administration in a postwar Syria, a leading Kurdish official said Tuesday.
It was the second meeting between the two sides, and they agreed to continue their discussions, said Ilham Ahmed, the co-president of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council.
The SDC delegation pressed for constitutional reforms to enshrine regional self-administration, said Ahmed, who described the government's response as "not positive."
"We have lots of work ahead of us, and I don't think this will be easy," said Ahmed.
The Syrian government has vowed to reassert its rule over the whole country after surviving seven years of civil war.
President Bashar Assad is demanding the departure of U.S. troops, who are embedded with the military arm of the SDC, the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the northeast Rojava region.
U.S. forces supported the Syrian Democratic Forces in their campaign against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria. An estimated 2,000 U.S. troops and military advisers are in northern Syria, and the U.S. operates air bases in the Kurdish-administered region.
The Trump administration remains noncommittal about its plans for northern Syria.
Ahmed said the Kurdish-run region would not participate in nationwide local elections slated for next month, despite pressure from the government.
She said the SDC delegation met with officials from Damascus's authority on local administration and the ruling Baath Party's National Security Bureau, which oversees all intelligence operations in Syria.
Also Tuesday, Syrian state media said five drones were shot down in the coastal Latakia province as they approached a Russian air base in the area.
The air base, known as Hemeimeem, is the headquarters for Russia’s military operations in support of Assad’s forces. Russia has been a major ally and has turned the tide of the civil war in his favor.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says the drones were downed late Monday. It says this is the fifth time in as many days that drones have been shot down as they tried to reach the air base.
The Observatory and Syrian state media say the drones were launched by rebels holding territory in the neighboring Idlib province in northwestern Syria.