Author Topic: Kurdish militants tighten grip on Syria's northeast  (Read 328 times)

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Kurdish militants tighten grip on Syria's northeast
« on: October 27, 2013, 12:30:32 PM »
Via Reuters:

(Reuters) - Kurdish militants moved on Sunday to consolidate their control of an oil-producing region in northeastern Syria after seizing a border crossing with Iraq from Islamist rebels, activists said.

Militia linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought the government of neighboring Turkey for decades, were clearing pockets of resistance of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, al-Nusra Front, and Ahrar al-Sham in the border town of Yarubiya, Syrian opposition sources said.

"The Kurds are now in control of the Yarubiya border post. They now have a clear route to market the region's oil, which should belong to all Syrians. Thousands of the Arabs have fled," said Yasser Farhan, a member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition.

The northeastern province of Hasakah, which borders Iraq and Turkey, has a population of over one million, 70 percent Kurd and 30 percent Arab. The fighting there deepens sectarian and ethnic faultlines in Syria and threatens to draw neighboring powers into the country's civil war.

A statement by the Syrian National Coalition said Iraqi ground forces attacked Yarubiya on Saturday in coordination with the Kurdish militia. Syrian rebel sources said Syrian warplanes had also bombarded the town.

"The Iraqi government has committed a grave error by its unprecedented interference in Syrian affairs," the statement said, adding that the Shi'ite-dominated Baghdad government had been aiding the transfer to Syria of Iraqi Shi'ite militia who are fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

An Iraqi security official denied involvement in the capture of Yarubiya. "The last thing we need is to get dragged into a military combat inside Syria. We will not engage in any way," he said.

Other Iraqi officials said some wounded Kurdish fighters had been evacuated in Iraqi army Humvees and taken to areas under the control of Iraqi Kurdish fighters, then over the border into Iraq.

Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, said Kurdish fighters had taken over 90 percent of Yarubiya town.

Video footage released by the group showed Kurdish fighters manning a tower at the crossing and others carrying the flag of the Kurdistan People's Protection Units militia.

More at link.

The Kurds are my kind of people. Tough as nails, never back down, want to be left in peace to get on with life. It's a complex dynamic, since they are split over 3 countries (Turkey, Syria and Iraq) and are fairly detested by the majority population of each of those countries. It seems they have decided that now is the right time to make a de facto state of their own.

Will be watching with interest.
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