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 Syrian Arab rebels woo Kurds, urge them to join fight against Assad's regime

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Syrian Arab rebels woo Kurds, urge them to join fight against Assad's regime  19.6.2012  








Syrian rebels are seen in Idlib, Syria. Photo: AP
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First Kurdish Battalion announced in Syrian Kurdistan in March 2012. Photo: Ekurd.net/YouTube.
  
June 19, 2012

BEIRUT, — The Free Syrian Army Tuesday called on their “Kurdish brothers” to join rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while promising an end to injustices against Kurds in a future democratic Syria.

“The Joint Command of the Free Syrian Army... appeals to our Kurdish brothers, soldiers and civilians, and invites them to join the ranks of the FSA inside the country,” the group’s spokesman Colonel Kassem Saadeddine said in an online video.

The Syrian opposition, particularly its political wing in exile, the Syrian National Council (SNC), has been criticized for the predominance of Islamists in key posts and for not being representative of Syria’s diverse religious and ethnic groups.

Kurdish activist Abdel Basset Sayda was named on June 10 to lead the SNC, partly in a bid to gain the confidence of Syria’s minorities.

Kurds represent around nine percent of Syria’s 23 million population.

They complain of persistent discrimination, and demand recognition for their Kurdish culture and language, and that they be treated as full-fledged citizens.

The FSA statement said that Kurds would be an integral part of the rebel army, “at home with their Syrian brothers from all backgrounds” in defending “our country” and supporting “our revolution.”

“Let us work together to transform the FSA into an alternative national military institution to the army of the ruling gang,” Saadeddine said.

He added that the FSA would be a “protector of the demands of the Syrian revolution” and that it would work to “build a civil state, a pluralistic democracy that would remove all forms of injustice” suffered by the Kurds.

The statement emphasised that Kurds have and will always be “partners”, working “hand-in-hand to build the country’s future and end discrimination for all Syrians, whatever their ethnic or religious background.”

The FSA’s appeal comes as Syrian Kurds of all persuasions, from soldiers who do not want to kill their countrymen to those seeking to escape the violence, are seeking refuge across the border in Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdistan region.

Most had to be smuggled across the border, avoiding Syrian security forces, after facing what they said was discrimination and oppression in Syria.

But they say they have been welcomed by Iraqis in Kurdistan, which hosts the Domiz refugee camp in Duhok province, where some 1,500 of them are now housed, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The United Nations says that more than 86,000 Syrians have fled to surrounding countries to escape a brutal crackdown by Assad’s regime on an uprising against his rule,www.ekurd.net although only around 5,400 have ended up in Iraq.

Kurds will meanwhile be represented at EU-sponsored talks in Brussels at the weekend aimed at forging more unity among the Syrian opposition, according to an EU spokesman.

The Kurdish National Council will join main opposition groups including the Syrian National Council, the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change and the Democratic Forum, at the talks, the spokesman said.

More than 14,400 people have been killed in the revolt against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which broke out in March 2011, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, AFP 

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