Fighters of the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG) drive tanks they claim to have taken from the Jabhat al-Nusrah group, through the streets of Afrin. Photo: PYD
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region –Leaders from across the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran agreed to a fact-finding mission to Syrian Kurdistan, following reports of Kurdish massacres by Islamist fighters and a vow by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani to defend fellow Kurds if those reports are true.
“He (Barzani) cannot just take any action without proper investigations,” explained veteran Kurdish politician and MP Mahmoud Othman. “He needs to know if massacres are happening, and if so, it should first be known to the world and then the Kurdistan Region can act and should act,” he told Rudaw TV.
The investigative team will include representatives from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region as well as from Kurdish parties from Iran and Turkey. It will be escorted by the dominant Kurdish group in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Defense Units (YPG).
Members of the committee that chose the mission, at a three-hour meeting in Erbil, said they could not reveal further details -- such as names and numbers of the investigative team – for security reasons.
For weeks, the YPG has been locked in fierce battles with the Jabhat al-Nusrah, an extremist Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda, and one of the many jihadi groups fighting in a civil war that has become increasingly complex and incendiary.
“If the PYD as a dominant force cooperates with the team, they will be able to easily collect all the information needed and they can do it on time,” said Othman.
“After the inquiry the Kurds can then ask the international community -- especially America and Russia who have major roles in Syrian affairs -- to stop this massacre,” said Othman. “They too are facing terrorism, and terrorism isn’t only against the Kurds.”
“The inquiry is to find facts and figures,” he added. “When you talk to the world and want them to do something, the world only listens to facts and figures,” Othman explained.
He said that the inquiry team should also look into disagreements between Kurdish political groups in Syria which are fiercely divided by their different approaches to the revolution.
PYD leader Salih Muslim said last week that his group did not need outside support, and that his forces were capable of tackling the threat of Islamist fighters.
Barzani’s call for an investigation into the massacres received a cold welcome by the PYD, but the group’s representatives attended Tuesday’s meeting in Erbil.
“The PYD will accept this team,” Othman said. “Cemil Bayik, the head of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has already backed the inquiry and the PYD is -- as you know -- only a wing of the PKK.”