Many Kurdish towns in the Northeast of Syria are now flying the Kurdish flag as Syrian troops have withdrawn from the region to fight back the offensives in Syria’s two largest cities. BBC reports that fighter jets strafed parts of Aleppo. This seems to be their first use and a clear escalation. Turkey has closed its border with Syria, halting the passage of all commercial vehicles between Turkey and Syria. Only refugees can cross into Syria. The borders are too dangerous.
Liberated Kurdish Cities in Syria Move into Next Phase
25/07/2012 06:05:00 By HEVIDAR AHMED
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Syrian governmental forces have retreated from the Kurdish regions of Syria without a fight; the liberated cities are now being ruled evenly by the People’s Council of Syrian Kurdistan (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC).
According to the information obtained by Rudaw, the Kurdish cities of Kobane, Derek, Amoude, Efrin and Sari Kani have fallen under the control of Syrian Kurdish forces.
The city of Kobane was the first Kurdish city to be liberated last Thursday, 17 months after the revolution against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began.
The KNC and PYD agreed to jointly control the liberated Kurdish cities in a deal made in Erbil on July 11, under the supervision of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani.
“According to the treaty of Erbil which was signed by the KNC and PYD, any administrative vacuum in the Kurdish cities of Syria will be occupied evenly — 50/50 — by these two signatories. These two groups will continue ruling the Kurdish regions until an election is carried out,” said Nuri Brimo, a spokesperson of the Democratic Kurdish Party of Syria
The national flag of Kurdistan and the flag of the PKK – which the PYD is affiliated with — are now being raised over the majority of government and public buildings.
However Abdulbaqi Yusuf, a spokesperson of Kurdish Union Party (KUP), said, “The buildings under the control of PYD are using their own flags, but we as the KNC are using the national flag of Kurdistan. This is a problem because we only recognize one flag and that is the national Kurdish flag, but the PYD does not recognize that flag.”
He added, “For example, in the city of Kobane, we controlled some buildings and raised the Kurdish national flag over those buildings, but the PYD came and forced us out with their guns and removed the national flag of Kurdistan and replaced it with their own flag. We could not do anything because they were armed and we were not.”
Yusuf also had concerns about the quality of life for Syrian Kurds. “People are living in bad conditions and have not received any help,” he said, criticizing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for not coming to their aid.
“We have requested help from the KRG several times but they have not helped. Nobody listens to us,” Yusuf said.
Brimo admits that “Barzani asked the KNC and PYD to rule the Syrian Kurdish cities evenly between them and in return promised financial and moral support.”
Abdulbasit Sayda, the leader of the country’s largest opposition group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), said they were looking for help for people in the region. “As the SNC, we are holding meetings with international actors in order to receive financial and humanitarian aid and save ourselves from the clutches of the Syrian regime. We need this aid because the economic situation of the Syrian people and the Kurds is very bad and they need help,” he said….
Sayda added, “We are constantly in touch with Barzani regarding the situation in Syria and keep each other updated.”
Brimo explained the withdrawal of regime forces from the Kurdish cities. “The Syrian regime is gathering its forces in Damascus,” he said. “Therefore, they are retreating from other regions.”
He also revealed that the Syrian regime informed the PYD about their withdrawal in advance, so that the group knew beforehand which cities the forces would be leaving.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is present in many parts of Syria, but not in the Kurdish regions. “There is a sort of agreement between KNC and SNC. The FSA will not come to the Kurdish regions and the Kurds will not go the Arabic regions,” said Brimo.
Sayda admitted fearing a surprise attack by the Syrian government on these Kurdish regions.
“The Kurds of Syria need to brace themselves for a sudden return of Syrian government forces. It is probable that the regime might return to attack this region again,” he said.
A Friend in Iraqi Kurdistan writes:
Kurdish news here in Iraqi Kurdistan is reporting that Syrian Kurds have taken control of the Kurdish region of northeastern Syria. This has led to a crisis of relations between them and the FSA/rebels, however. Supposedly, some months back there had been a pledge of mutual support between the Kurds and the rebels, regarding resistance against the regime. Now however, the Kurds seem more interested in protecting their homeland than in participating in the nation-wide struggle against the regime. After taking control of Hasake (haven’t verified this), a conflict emerged between them and the FSA that wanted to control the area due to its strategic importance.
Here’s the one decent article (a great one, in fact) that I could find by Aymenn al-Tamimi