The Western-, Qatari- and Turkish- backed Free Syrian Army has been infiltrated by Islamists, and factions near Aleppo “are no different than Islamic State,” said a Syrian Kurd researcher who toured Kurdish areas in northern Syria.
Dr. Kamal Sido, who works at the Middle East desk for the German human rights NGO Society for Threatened Peoples, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Kurdish forces are winning the battle against Sunni Islamist groups, though the humanitarian situation remains dire.
“Humanitarian aid is needed to be brought in from neighboring Turkey and Iraq, but both countries closed the borders,” he said, accusing Ankara of being behind the Iraq closure. “Turkey is seeking to put pressure on the Kurds in northern Syria.”
Sido, who maintains a large number of contacts in northern Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan, published a report on his research trip in June, basing it on numerous interviews during March and April.
“The military situation of the Kurds is good as they are able to protect the area very well with the help of US-led allied forces,” he said.
In the Aleppo region, “the FSA is fighting against Kurdish civilians,” he charged, going on to point out that the Free Syrian Army there “has the same ideology and policy as the Islamists, which want an Islamic state run by Shari’a.”
The Islamist groups are pushing for an Islamic state, which would be terrible for the Kurds and other minorities.
Asked about the mood among Syrian Kurds, Sido responded that they were optimistic since Kurdish forces continue to liberate lots of territory from the Islamists such as the Syrian border areas of Kobani, Tel Abyad and Qamishli, as well as the region of Afrin.
He noted that Qamishli, near the Turkish border, is dangerous and continues to be struck by Turkish artillery and car bombings by Islamist groups.
“The Kurds and other minorities in Syria need international aid,” said Sido, adding that if Syria is not transformed into a federal democracy, the country would remain dangerous for the Kurds and other minorities.
Regarding his visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdish researcher said the internal political situation is difficult because of internal disputes.
Asked if the Kurds in Iraq are ready to declare independence, Sido cautioned that it is likely not going to happen as long as internal squabbles are not resolved as well as relations with Baghdad.
“If these problems are resolved then we can speak about independence,” he said, adding that otherwise an independent Kurdistan would resemble South Sudan, which has been plagued with civil war since it gained independence in 2011.