Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga fighters deny forceful recruitment

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Syrian Kurdish forces of the Rojava Peshmerga. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga fighters denied recent reports by media close to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is forcefully recruiting Syrian Kurds from refugee camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“Thousands of young people want to volunteer in the ranks of the Peshmergas and they are still waiting for the date of the acceptance to join the Kurdish Peshmerga training and waiting to defend the land of Kurdistan,” Abdul Hamid Farhan Sino, a Rojava Peshmerga, told ARA News.

Another Rojava Peshmerga told ARA news that some Syrian Kurds are even trying to use their connections in order to get into the Rojava Peshmerga forces.

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 last year.

In an interview with the KDP-affiliated Zagros TV channel last Monday, Major General Taymas said that soon the Syrian Kurdish fighters will return to Syria.

Currently, the Rojava Peshmergas are recruiting more fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan suggesting they want soon to return to Syrian Kurdish areas. However, PYD officials consider the return to be unlikely.

In the past, there were around 3,000 Syrian Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, but now there are more. “There are more than 5,000 fighters, and training courses are going on. There are also several training courses at refugee camps,” Sino said.

According to the rules, young men between 18 and 35 can volunteer after approval by their parents and proof of identity that they are born in Syrian Kurdistan. The goal is to protect the Syrian Kurds against terrorism, and protect all components of the Kurdistan region.

Sino accused the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of forcefully recruiting Kurds, including minors under the age of 17. The YPG has denied recruiting minors.

Moreover, he claimed that some YPG fighters have even defected to the Rojava Peshmerga forces.

The duty of Self-Defense law, which is popularly known as “conscription law”, in the areas held by the PYD-linked canton-administrations of Rojava, has been imposed on the young people who are between 18 and 30 year-old to undergo military training for six months and assist the YPG and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against ISIS.

Currently, conscripts are fighting in the Raqqa campaign.

Aldar Xelil, a high-ranking member of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), last week said it will not be accepted to have two separate Kurdish forces in Syria.

“Politically we could have 50 parties and even thousands of organisations, but militarily we should have only one fighting force. All armed groups should be organised under one command. No matter how deep the political divide, a division in the military could lead to a significant conflict. We do not want this. There is a military system in North Syria where all ethnicities are represented,” he stated.

Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, said during the 2017 World Economic Forum in January that he wants to avoid a civil war in northern Syria – Rojava.

“We don’t want to see Kurdish–Kurdish fighting in Rojava, that is why we have not sent back the Rojava Peshmerga,” Barzani said. “We are not optimistic about the future of Syrian Kurdistan–Rojava.”

Kurdish officials of 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.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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