Middle East

Iraqi Kurdistan trained Syrian Kurds, says official

A Syrian refugee flashes the victory sign at the Domiz refugee camp in the northern Iraqi of province Dohuk July 25, 2012. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

ARBIL, Iraq: Iraqi Kurdish forces gave basic training to Syrian Kurds to fill any "security gap" should the Syrian regime fall, a top official in the party of the Kurdistan region's president said on Tuesday.

A "very small" number of young Syrian Kurds "were trained in basic training in camps in the region in order to fill any security gap after the fall of the Syrian regime," Hayman Hawrami, the head of the external relations department in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), told AFP.

"We in the KDP and the region's government will not interfere in Syrian affairs, and we will not force any political equation on how the situation for Kurds in Syria will be," Hawrami said.

"But we supported uniting the Kurds in Syria so they can be a main supporter of the Syrian opposition and a main supporter of the positive change in Syria," he said.

Syria's two main Kurdish opposition blocs, the Kurdish National Council and the People's Council of Western Kurdistan said on July 11 that they would unite to form the Supreme Kurdish Council.

"We in the KDP are giving attention to Syrian affairs, because there are more than two million Kurds in Syria," Hawrami said.

His remarks come as Syrian opposition chief Abdel Basset Sayda was on a visit to Kurdistan in a bid to convince Kurdish leaders to join the opposition, according to a high-ranking official in the Kurdish National Council.

Activists say more than 20,000 people have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime began in March 2011.





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