Turkish army troops gathering near the Syrian border at Hassa, in Hatay province on January 21, 2018. AFP / BULENT KILIC
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Syria's Kurdish minority, hailed as a key Western ally during the war against Daesh (ISIS), faces hard bargaining with Damascus to save its hard-won autonomy. Early last year, President Bashar Assad's government held just 17 percent of Syrian territory and was unable to do anything about the autonomous institutions the Kurds had set up in areas they controlled.Assad's government now controls nearly two-thirds of Syria and is determined to reassert its authority over Kurdish-held territory which forms the lion's share of the rest.Before the start of Syria's civil war in 2011, the Kurds were an oppressed minority in what was effectively a one-party state with an Arab nationalist ideology that had no tolerance for Kurdish traditions or the Kurdish language.recalculated'In late July, Damascus hosted the first round of talks with the Kurdish administration.Between them, the SDF and its allies control around 30 percent of Syria, including several of its largest oil fields.The Kurds are ready to negotiate because of U.S. President Donald Trump's repeated pledges to end the U.S. troop presence in northern Syria that has been their principal protection.
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