Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visit the Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province, Syria December 11, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik via REUTERS
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Syrian President Bashar Assad Monday called U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters "traitors," sparking an exchange of insults with a force that controls more than a quarter of the country.Assad had criticized the semi-autonomous Kurds in the past, but his latest comments were harsher than usual.Some senior regime officials had in the past made overtures to the Kurds, suggesting some level of autonomy could be eventually discussed, but Assad's latest comments augur poorly for any future talks.Speaking to reporters after a meeting with a Russian business delegation, Assad said that three years of U.N.-brokered peace talks have yielded "nothing," in part because the opposition does not represent anyone and is merely a "vocal phenomenon". Assad said the talks at Sochi would examine whether Syria needs a new constitution or to amend its current one.
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