World Bulletin/News Desk
The commander of the Popular Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, the military branch of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Sipan Hemo, whose forces have recently gained some Syrian districts in the country's north amid ongoing clashes with radical Islamist groups, said Turkey has nothing to fear from YPG forces, describing other groups as the real threat to the region.
Speaking to Rudaw, an online newspaper in northern Iraq's city of Arbil, Hemo said, “Contrary to what has been said we, as the YPG, see ourselves as friends of the Turkish people.”
He noted that YPG units sided with those in the region who contribute to the “advancement of democracy” and that the victory of other groups would be a “disaster” for the region.
“We see radical Islam as a threat not only to ourselves but also to the Turkish people and the world as well,” Hemo stated.
Turkey has been distressed by developments on its southern border where forces of the PYD, the political offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), have been strengthening their position against al-Nusra forces. Recently, PYD forces raised their flag in Ras al-Ain, a key town a few hundred meters from the Ceylanpinar district of Sanliurfa province in Turkey.
Reports that the PYD is aiming to declare autonomy in north Syria have further alarmed Turkey. Turkish officials said they could not ignore the possibility of a de facto Kurdish entity in northern Syria, as this might put the territorial integrity of Syria in jeopardy and present a security threat to Turkey.
Hemo said Turkey should not see the flag raising as a problem.
During the interview the Kurdish commander claimed that many foreign fighters entered Syria from Turkey to join the ranks of al-Nusra, describing the situation as “very striking” given the fact that Ankara is in the middle a settlement process with its Kurds to solve its decades-old conflict between the PKK and state.
“Although Turkey is in the middle of a peace process with its Kurdish population, it is uneasy about the situation of Kurds inside Syria. This might seem like a contradiction, but we know that it is not,” said the Kurdish militia leader.
In relation to the position of Syrian Kurds in the more than two-year-old crisis in the country, Hemo said Kurds remained neutral and did not take sides either with the opposition or with the regime. He added that they acknowledged that Kurds cannot do anything for the rest of Syria but can protect “their own Kurdish region in Syria. But Turkey got uncomfortable with our stance. What discomforts Turkey is the fact that Kurds govern the Kurdish region.”
Syrian Kurds have been alternately battling both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's troops and the opposition. Some Kurds claim to back the uprising, but opposition groups have been accusing them of making deals with the regime to ensure their security and autonomy during the conflict.
Hemo denied that the YPG was the military branch of the PYD, saying that his forces are composed of members of other Kurdish parties along with PYD members.Last Mod: 25 Temmuz 2013, 10:01