KRG sets refugee quota amid clashes in Syria
GENEVA / ARBIL
Masoud Barzani (C), president of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, visits Syrian refugees at the Quru Gusik refugee camp in Arbil. REUTERS photoSyrian refugees continue to stream over the border into northern Iraq, where the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has put in place a daily quota of 3,000 amid warnings from Arbil that it could intervene in northern Syria.
About 30,000 refugees, believed to be mainly Syrian Kurds, have poured into northern Iraq since Aug. 15, and up to 3,000 were lined up to cross yesterday, the United Nations agency UNHCR said. “The Kurdistan Regional Government authorities have put a daily quota for those refugees who will be allowed in. Today they will allow 3,000 persons in, but yesterday a similar quota of 3,000 was set, but at the end of the day, 5,000 refugees were allowed to cross,” Jumbe Omari Jumbe of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told a news briefing in Geneva.
An adviser to Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said the sudden mass influx of Kurdish refugees increased the likelihood that Iraq’s Kurdish region would act to protect its kin across the border. The adviser told Reuters that the sudden refugee influx increased the likelihood that he would order action, although he played down the suggestion the leader might dispatch his powerful security forces across the frontier.
“Sure, Barzani’s intervention has become likely after what has happened in the last few days. But I do not expect that he will involve the military,” he said.
“Mr. Barzani has expressed his dissatisfaction with the massacres suffered by Kurdish people in Syria and asked the U.N., U.S. and neighboring countries to protect the Kurdish people who are facing semi-genocide,” the adviser said. Barzani visited Syrian refugees at the Quru Gusik refugee camp in Arbil, about 350 kilometers north of Baghdad on Aug. 19.
Meanwhile, fresh battles broke out yesterday in strategic, majority Kurdish areas in Syria, as al-Qaeda-linked jihadists and the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) fought each other for control, an NGO and activists said.
In the northeastern province of Hasakeh, “clashes broke out at dawn pitting the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG), against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), al-Nusra Front and other battalions,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The fighting hit the villages of Dardara, Hmeid and Jafa, as well as others surrounding the strategic town of Ras al-Ayn, near the Turkish border, the watchdog said. The fighting comes days after jihadists linked to al-Qaeda pressed a fresh offensive to take control of majority Kurdish areas.