Syrian Kurds urged to rise up against jihadists

Syrian Kurds urged to rise up against jihadists

Syrian Kurds urged to rise up against jihadists

A Kurdish fighter from the People’s Defense Units (YPG) holds his weapon as he takes position atop a building with a YPG flag in Aleppo's Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood, June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman

The People’s Defense Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has issued a call to arms to battle jihadists after a Kurdish leader was killed on July 30 after weeks of clashes with radical Islamists.

“We call on the Kurdish people... to step forward... anyone fit to bear arms should join the ranks of the YPG and face the assaults of these [jihadist] armed groups,” said a YPG statement published on a Kurdish website, Agence France-Presse reported. The YPG is considered the PYD’s armed wing, while the PYD is said to have alleged links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Isa Huso, a prominent Kurdish politician, was assassinated as he left his house in the city of Qamishli on July 30. That raised to new heights Kurdish resentment against the main opposition National Coalition and militants from the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

KCK echoes call

“Despite our repeated calls to the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army command... to date these parties have failed to take a clear position” against the radicals, the YPG statement said. It said it was clear that FSA battalions were coordinating with jihadist groups.

It singled out the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), saying they and the FSA “have become one side in attacking the Kurdish people.” The PKK’s alleged urban wing, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), echoed the YPG’s statement and called for support.

“All Kurds should [provide aid] until the Rojava [the Kurdish northern parts of Syria] revolution is assured. Kurds should support this revolution financially and morally,” the statement said.

Clashes between jihadists and Kurdish fighters have raged for some two weeks, after jihadists were expelled from the key town of Ras al-Ayn on the Turkish border.