Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga Forces not part of Free Syrian Army: officials

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Peshmerga of Rojava during a conference in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Kurdish officials rejected statements of Anas al-Abdah, the President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, who suggested that the Rojava Peshmerga forces are part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

“At the beginning of formation of the Rojava Peshmerga, the main goal was to train them to return to Syrian Kurdistan and to defend the region, but because of problems with the PYD they failed to reach a deal,” Zara Salih, a senior Yekiti politician told ARA News.

However, Salih said there was also no deal with the Syrian coalition. “The Peshmergas are not part of the FSA and they will never go to other areas [than Kurdistan]. The only possible solution is that the US guarantees both the Rojava Peshmerga and YPG [People’s Protection Units] to protect Syria’s Kurdish region and fight ISIS and other terrorist groups,” Salih said.

“The Rojava Peshmergas are not part of Turkey’s or the Syrian coalition’s agendas,” he said.

In June 2016, after meeting Iraqi Kurdistan’s president Masoud Barzani, the Syrian opposition president Abdah also called on the Peshmergas to go to Azaz town near Aleppo. However, the Rojava Peshmergas rejected this.

Major Shivan Deriki, the official spokesperson of Rojava Peshmerga forces, in an interview with ARA News on 23 January rejected reports that the Rojava Peshmergas would fight in Jarabulus, al-Bab, or Raqqa.

Deriki said that the Peshmerga leadership rejected a request from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to go to Jarabulus, but also rejected a request from the Syrian coalition to fight as part of the Turkish-led Euphrates Shield Operation in al-Bab.

Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition and senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDP-S), Abdul Hakim Bashar, in February stressed that the presence of the Syrian Peshmerga forces in Syria will be limited to predominantly Kurdish areas, noting that their main role will be to defend the Kurdish areas against terror and protect Kurdish citizens from oppression and tyranny.

The Syrian Peshmerga forces, also known as Rojava Peshmerga, comprise of 3,000 to 5,000 Kurdish soldiers who defected from Assad’s army and who were trained in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. The force was established on 8 March 2012 and since August 2014 participate in battles against ISIS in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Speaking to ARA News, Ceng Sagnic, a researcher with the Tel Aviv-based Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, said: “The YPG is considered 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. The presence of two armies in Rojava may 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.

However, the Kurdish National Council (KNC) –political leadership of the Rojava Peshmerga forces– reject the Peshmergas joining the YPG or Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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