British officials visit Syrian Kurdistan, vow solidarity with Kurdish authorities
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – British Labour officials visited Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) on Tuesday, pledging to stand with Kurdish authorities against the threat of future attacks.
“We’re here for a long-term relationship with you, where we can support you against all the people who are trying to destroy your liberty,” Maurice Glasman, a Labour peer in the House of Lords, told reporters.
“We also bring, with a full heart, our solidarity,” he said during his visit to the city of Qamishlo (Qamishli).
The group entered Rojava from the Kurdistan Region through the Semalka border crossing, in a trip facilitated by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Last month, Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels, Free Syrian Army (FSA), captured the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin in the northwest of Syria, driving US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the area.
Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group designated by Ankara as a ‘terrorist’ organization. Turkey has threatened to launch further military operations on the east.
Abed al-Karim Omar, a top member of the Rojava administration, stated that the arrival of the British officials marked the first such public, high-level delegation.
“There were meetings previously not declared,” he said. “But this is the first visit in this official way.”
The British MPs are scheduled to discuss the overall situation in Afrin, including the tens of thousands of displaced from the area, according to Omar.
Glasman stated that the delegation would tour parts of Rojava, meeting YPG and its female-military affiliate, the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), and local civil councils.
Labour MP Lloyd Russel-Moyle said that they would “share that back in England with our parliament and with our people,” hoping for better scrutiny of the country's practice of selling arms to Ankara.
“We want to say we are with you side by side,” he said.
Since the civil war swept across Syria, YPG and its allies have established autonomous cantons in the north, forming a federal system of government. Over the past few years, the Kurdish force has liberated large swaths of territory from the Islamic State (IS) with the support of the US-led international coalition.
Rojava leaders say they seek autonomy as part of a decentralized Syria, rather than secession.
Editing by John J. Catherine