Will 17 Million Kurds Take Up Arms Against Syria's President Assad and Declare Independence From Turkey and Syria? The Kurds Are Alluding To That Possibility.Assaulted by Turkish and Iranian forces, Kurdish rebels are starting to unite. Until now, the estimated 1.7 million-strong ethnic Kurdish minority in Syria has not openly challenged the Syrian regime, which has been struggling to quell anti-government protests for the past six months. While they are more organized than other opposition groups, they have been reluctant to take action, not just out of fear of Damascus’s heavy hand, but out of uncertainty that a new regime would be any better.
“If Syrian Kurds would rise up against Assad’s regime Damascus would be much more harsh and brutal and that has been on the minds of every Kurd,” Jawad Qadir, executive editor of the Kurdish Globe, told The Media Line.
Based in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, which was set up in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, Qadir explained that Syrian Kurds are waiting to see whether the risk of defying Assad would be worth the gains.
Numbering some 38 million dispersed among four main countries, the Kurds speak their own language and most practice Sunni Islam. So far, the Syrian regime has been cautious about antagonizing the Kurdish minority.
“The fact that Iraqi Kurdistan doesn’t incite people to participate actively doesn’t mean that they are satisfied with Damascus politics,” Qadir said.
He added that the Syrian Kurds have yet to push for their own enclave, but should they eventually chose that path, they would be a formidable foe for the Syrian military. They had close links with the PKK and could become heavily armed, which would have regional ramifications.
“Turkey fears that Syrian Kurdish participation would immediately affect the Kurds in Turkey and there would be Kurdish uprisings in two countries,” Qadir said. “If the Syrian Kurds ever declared independence, Assad wouldn’t be the first to invade, but the Turks because that would spark a revolt by the 17 million Turkish Kurds.”Turkey Launches Massive Airstrikes - Kills Hundreds of Kurds.Turkey's armed forces said on Monday some 145-160 Kurdish guerrillas were killed in the military's air and artillery strikes in northern Iraq this month, raising the toll from between 90 and 100 rebels.
The attacks, the first in more than a year on suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebel bases in Iraq, were launched after PKK assaults in Turkey killed more than 40 security force personnel over the previous month.
The raids have fueled tensions between Turkey and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region after lraqi Kurdish officials said one air strike killed seven civilians a week ago, triggering protests in the capital Arbil and other towns.
The Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Monday more than 100 PKK militants were also wounded in the onslaught launched on Aug. 17, basing its figures on "various sources".
Turkish warplanes also launched 21 air strikes between Aug 25-28 in the Zap and Gara areas of northern Iraq, where the PKK has bases from which it launches attacks on southeast Turkey. Artillery struck 38 targets over the same four-day period.