Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad says groups working for foreign countries "mainly those under American command" are traitors.

Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad says the militants working for a foreign country, mainly those under American command are traitors.
Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad says the militants working for a foreign country, mainly those under American command are traitors. (AP Archive)

Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad on Monday called US-backed groups "traitors", ramping up the criticism against Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) controlling more than a quarter of the country.

"When we talk about those referred to as 'the Kurds', they are in fact not just Kurds. All those who work for a foreign country, mainly those under American command... are traitors," Assad said in a thinly veiled reference to the YPG, which dominates SDF.

"This is how we see these groups working for the Americans," he said.

Map shows territory under the control of different sides in Syria's conflict.
Map shows territory under the control of different sides in Syria's conflict. (TRTWorld)

Uneasy face-off

The Kurdish minority accounts for an estimated 15 percent of Syria's population and the YPG has control of the country's oil-rich northeastern region.

Both Damascus, backed by Russia, and the SDF, backed by a US-led coalition, have fought Daesh in recent months.

But their common enemy has been defeated across much of the country now, leaving the SDF and regime forces in an uneasy face-off over the resource rich territory.

The US programme to arm the SDF has been a sharply divisive issue with Turkey as well, which views the central actors within the SDF—the YPG—as terrorists because of their affiliation to the PKK, which has waged a three-decade-long armed campaign in Turkey.

PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies