Members of the Rojava Peshmerga force known as Roj Brigade in Khanasoor in Shingal region. Photo: Rudaw video
SINONE, Kurdistan Region— Plans are underway to increase the number of Syrian Peshmerga forces, also known as the Roj Brigade, to 10,000 after deadly clashes erupted last week between them and local armed groups supported by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to the commander of the Roj Brigade.
Commander Sharvan Diroki also said the US had given the green light for the Roj troops, which are mainly based on the Iraqi border, to enter Kurdish territories in Syria.
“We have plans to boost the number of our Peshmerga to around 10,000 in three months time after new training sessions,” Diroki told Rudaw. “The US has officially asked us to be prepared for deployment into Rojava, but the PKK and YPG (People’s Protection Units) were opposed to the move,” he added.
The Roj Brigade is the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDKS) which is currently based in the Kurdistan Region and enjoys the support of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraq.
Since the Syrian uprising in 2011 and subsequent formation of the Kurdish enclave in the country known as Rojava, the PDKS has repeatedly accused the dominant Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) of authoritarian rule and exclusion of other parties such as the PDKS. PYD has denied the claims.
The PDKS is a member of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) which is part of the larger opposition alliance in Syria, the Syrian National Council, and is composed of about a dozen Kurdish parties in the country.
Also ENKS, backed by the KDP, has in the past accused the PYD and its powerful local army, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), of excluding Kurdish groups not affiliated with Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a proponent supporter of the PYD.
Sources close to ENKS told Rudaw last month that the PYD-led government in Rojava was likely to allow Peshmerga forces affiliated with the ENKS, including the Roj Brigade, to enter the Kurdish enclave for what they described as the final push against the Islamic State militants in the country.
The Syrian Peshmerga troops, whose number is around 7,000, have so far been denied access to the Kurdish enclave by the PYD.