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Turkish drone attack kills 2 Kurdish officials in northeast Syria amidst talks on conflict resolution

A Turkish drone attack killed two Kurdish local officials and their driver in northeast Syria on Tuesday in the latest such strike in the war-torn country, officials said, as talks on Syria’s conflict began in Kazakhstan.

The Kurdish-led authority in northeast Syria said Tuesday’s strike hit a car near the town of Qamishli, killing the co-chairperson of the town’s council, Yusra Darwish, and her deputy, Liman Shweish, as well as their driver. An additional local officials was wounded in the attack.

The attack is the latest in a series of such strikes by Turkey’s military that has been targeting Kurdish officials and fighters in northeast Syria for months. Turkey says the main Syrian Kurdish militia is allied to an outlawed Kurdish group that has led an insurgency against Turkey since 1984. That conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, has killed tens of thousands of people.

The authority said in a statement that the four were visiting institutions run by the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria when they came under drone attack while on the road outside Qamishli.

Also Tuesday, a two-day round of talks aimed at resolving the broader conflict in Syria opened in the Kazakh capital, Astana, among officials from Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria.

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Middle East graphic

A Turkish drone strike killed two Kurdish local officials and their driver in north Syria on Tuesday. 

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The meeting follows an improvement in relations between Syria and Arab countries, which have backed the opposition since the country’s conflict began in March 2011. The deadly conflict has killed half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.

In May, President Bashar Assad attended the Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia after Syria’s membership was reinstated 12 years after it was suspended.

Meanwhile, attempts at reconciliation between Syria and Turkey, which has troops in Syria and backs opposition fighters, have been slow.

Syria’s Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan was quoted by state media as saying that “any active results” that come out of the meetings in Astana should be based on Turkey agreeing to withdraw its troops from Syria in accordance with a “clear timeline.”

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