Kurdish peshmerga fighters drive in convoy through Erbil after leaving a base in Kurdistan on October 28, 2014 on their way to Kobane, a city in Syrian Kurdistan. File photo: AFP/Safin Hamed
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – A senior member of the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said that they would like to send the Kurdish Peshmerga to help fellow Kurds in their “sacred resistance” against Turkey in Afrin, but this may not be possible given the current situation.
“Countries of the region, in particular Turkey, knows about our stance in Kobane,” Mala Bakhtiyar told reporters as he visited the Sulaimani office of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the ruling party in Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava.
The Kurdistan Region, with the approval of Turkey and the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition, deployed its Peshmerga forces to help the Rojava fighters against ISIS in late 2014 in Kobane, a city that was under ISIS siege at the time.
“If we can, we will help Afrin now. If they allow us, we will deploy forces to Afrin,” Bakhtiyar said.
“But if they allow us, before deploying forces, we will send a delegation to Ankara for dialogue. We prefer dialogue over war,” the Kurdish official said.
He added that deploying forces to Afrin from the Kurdistan Region is almost impossible.
He called the Rojava defense against the Turkish military operation a “sacred resistance.”
“We support our nation,” he explained about his party’s stance about the Kurds in Syria.
The Kurdish people in Rojava call for their natural rights, he said, and therefore the PUK supports their quest for democracy in Syria.
He said that the solution for the Syrian Civil War including the Kurdish question in that the country is “political, not military.”
He criticized the pro-Turkish militias, the so-called Free Syrian Army, who support the Turkish military incursion.
The Syrian rebels have left their towns and cities in favor of the Syrian regime, but are now on offensive against the Kurdish city of Afrin, he said.
“Syrian opposition should know their rights are [deprived] by Damascus,” not Afrin, Bakhtiyar concluded.
Turkey has launched a military operation against the Kurdish-controlled Afrin canton in western Syria on Saturday to drive out the Kurdish fighters from the border areas.
Ankara claims that the YPG, the Kurdish armed force in control of the Syrian Kurdistan, is an extension of the PKK, an armed group that is fighting for greater national and cultural rights of millions of Kurds in Turkey but considered a terrorist organization by Ankara. YPG denies any organic links to the PKK.
YPG, the backbone of the US-backed forces in Syria, won many battles against ISIS including in Kobane and Raqqa, the then de-facto capital of the extremist group.