Kurds break from Syrian opposition after hopes for an autonomous region are dashed

By Elhanan Miller March 30, 2012, 3:59 pm

Syrian refugees cross the border with Turkey on March 20 (photo credit: AP/Burhan Ozbilici)

Kurdish citizens of Syria have fled to the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, where they are receiving military training in preparation for the post-Assad era, an Arabic-language Kurdish website reported Thursday.
According to xabar24, at least 330 Kurdish Syrians are being trained in a military camp run by the Peshmerga, the Kurdish armed forces. According to one youth in the camp, training began last week south of the Kurdish capital Irbil following a decision of “the highest ranks of the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP),” led by the region’s President Masoud Barazani.
The Kurdish youth told xabar24 that the training is shrouded in secrecy, with cadets banned from leaving the training grounds. He added that the military training will allow Kurds to “intervene in the Kurdish areas [of Syria] to prevent chaos when the Syrian regime falls.”
Kurdish President Masoud Barazani (photo credit: Helene C. Stikkel/Wikimedia Commons)

Kurds, a Sunni Muslim ethnic minority, comprise an estimated 9% of Syria’s population, mostly concentrated in the country’s north and north-east. Many Kurds have fled Syria to the neighboring Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, as Assad’s crackdown on Syrian towns intensified over the past months.
Kurdish representatives stormed out of a Syrian opposition meeting in Istanbul Tuesday, after their demands for an autonomous federal region within Syria went unmet.