The head of a Syrian Kurdish group with links to militants in Turkey has flown to Istanbul for talks with government officials after an upsurge in fighting near the Turkish border, Kurdish political sources said on Friday.
Saleh Muslim, the head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), whose militias have seized control of districts in northern Syria over the past year, arrived in Turkey late on Thursday, Kurdish sources told Reuters.
Turkish government officials could not confirm Muslim’s arrival and said there were no plans for any high-level meetings. Some local newspaper reports said he would meet intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and Foreign Ministry officials.
Muslim said last week that the PYD aimed to set up an independent council to run Kurdish regions in Syria until the country’s civil war ended, a move likely to alarm Ankara, wary of an autonomous Kurdish region emerging on its border.
The PYD’s capture this month of Ras al-Ain, on the Turkish border, has fuelled Turkish fears that Kurdish gains in Syria could embolden the home-grown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels, who are currently in talks with Ankara to end their armed struggle in exchange for greater rights for Turkey’s Kurds.