Major-General: Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga’s only goal is to fight ISIS

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Peshemrga Major General Bahjat Taymas. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

ERBIL – Since 2012, the KRG’s Peshmerga forces have been training thousands of Syrian Kurds –known as ‘Peshmerga of Rojava’– to send them to Syria. “They don’t want to fight Kurds, they only want to fight ISIS,” Major General Bahjat Taymas from the Kurdish Zerevani Peshmerga forces told ARA News. 

The Kurdish Zerevani forces that belong to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraqi Kurdistan took the responsibility of training Syrian Kurds. “It started with one battalion. The goal was to send them to Rojava [Kurdish areas of Syria], but until now they couldn’t get there,” Taymas said.

Last Friday, a ceremony was held in Duhok to celebrate the four-year anniversary of the establishment of the Syrian Kurdish Sun Brigades that are part of the Peshmerga forces and fight ISIS in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“We now have two battalions of approximately 3,000 people,” Major General Taymas said in an exclusive interview with ARA News. “Until now [in the fight against ISIS] they have 32 martyrs, and 125 injured,” he added.

The Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga forces (aka Peshmerga of Rojava) are supposed to receive a salary of approximately 500 US dollars a month. Nevertheless salaries have faced cuts and delays due to the economic crisis in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 

“When the Peshmerga forces receive their salaries, we also receive the salaries as Rojava Peshmergas,” First Lieutenant Saadon Sino told ARA News.  

The majority of the Rojava Peshmergas are from the province of Hasakah. “The brigades are mixed, but in general there are more people from Qamislo (Qamishli) and Hasakah,” said Major-general Taymas. “They will fight in every area, as long if it’s part of Kurdistan.”

However, so far the Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga forces haven’t been allowed access to Syrian territory by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) that dominate the Kurdish areas of Syria since 2012.

Ibrahim Biro, the leader of the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC), also said the Peshmergas do not want to join the newly established Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that includes the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and some Syrian Arab groups that fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

“The SDF group has good relations with the Syrian regime. For that reason we cannot join them nor make any agreement with them,” Biro told ARA News.

The YPG however denies any link to the Syrian regime and says that there should be only one military force to prevent a civil war like what happened before in Palestine and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In Iraqi Kurdistan, a civil war in the 1990s between the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties –KDP and PUK– killed at least 2,000 Kurds.

Speaking to ARA News, Ceng Sagnic, a researcher with the Tel Aviv-based Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, said: “They said YPG is the official fighting force of the canton administrations and any other side that wants to contribute to the security of Rojava should join the YPG. They also argue that the presence of two armies in Rojava will ignite infighting.” 

Kurdish officials of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)–which runs the canton administrations north Syria– have told the KNC and the Peshmerga of Rojava that they can join the YPG on an individual basis, but not as a separate force. 

“There would be a civil war if they come by their own decision,” Idris Nassan, the former minister for foreign affairs in the Kobani administration, told ARA News.

“Because the YPG forces control the whole region (Rojava), they would not allow any other force to share their achievements they have made with the drops of blood of their martyrs,” he said.  

“The Peshmerga need international support not to be targeted by the regime and Russia, and I think this is the most important reason,” Nassan added.

“When Russia and the US decide, they [Peshmerga of Rojava] will come because at that phase there would be a common agreement on the sharing of power in Rojava and Syria, and in general. However, if they have different opinions on the political solution in Rojava, Peshmerga of Rojava won’t be able to step behind KRG borders,” he added.

The Major General from the Zerevani forces denied any rumours that the Kurdish Peshmerga forces have fought in Syria or have links to a newly established Kurdish Free Syrian Army (FSA) group called the ‘Grandsons of Saladin’ brigade that wants to fight the YPG in northern Aleppo. 

The Kurdish PYD-linked news agency of Hawar on Monday accused the Peshmerga of Rojava of being involved in attacks on Kurds in Aleppo.

Major General Bahjat Taymas emphasized that the Rojava Peshmerga forces are just fighting in the Kurdistan Region in the cities around Duhok. “They were ready for every war against ISIS and fought in Shingal, Zummar, Aski Mosul, and the mountains of Shingal,” he said. 

“If they go to Rojava, many people of YPG will join them. The YPG is scared of this,” he told ARA News. However, he said it is better for them to enter Syria with an agreement. “This to prevent any clashes with Kurdish peers.”  

So far, it seems that the Syrian Kurdish Peshmergas will continue to fight in Iraqi Kurdistan, and could in the future even join the war for the battle of de-facto ISIS capital of Mosul. 

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News 

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