Erbil residency office warns Kurdish-Syrian citizens not travel to federal provinces
ERBIL (Kurdistan24) – The Syrian Kurds that have Kurdistan Region residency permits should not travel to provinces under the control of Iraqi federal authorities as they might face arrest and deportation, the Erbil residency office told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.
Remarks by Sheikh Kamil Mohammed, the head of the capital’s residency directorate, came during an exclusive interview with Kurdistan 24.
Mohammed’s advice against traveling to the federal provinces comes from his concerns regarding the arrest and deportation of Syrian Kurds by the Iraqi authorities to Damascus.
The arrest and deportation are “politically motivated”, he said, adding authorities in the center and south Iraq "do not sometimes recognize our residency permits."
“Therefore, I do advise Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] citizens not to travel there,” he said.
In July, Kurdistan 24 reported that Iraqi security forces arrested 70 Syrian Kurdish refugees in Baghdad and Mosul.
According to Syrian government law, military service is mandatory for all Syrian males, and Syrians could be conscripted if repatriated to Syria, something Iraqi authorities have attempted corroborate with their Syrian counterparts when detaining Syrians.
With the eruption of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, thousands of Syrians, mainly from the northeast of the country known among the Kurds as “Rojava”, fled to the Kurdistan Region, which once hosted more than two million refugees and Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs).
While the Iraqi federal authorities have shut down all the displaced camps under its jurisdiction, the Kurdistan Region’s camps have remained open as Erbil regularly reiterates its long-standing position that returns should be voluntary.
Since the arrival of thousands of Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region, the UNHCR Iraq has also invested $800 million to support the Kurdistan Region in protecting Syrian refugees.
According to the latest data of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Joint Crisis Coordination Center (JCC), the Kurdistan Region hosts 246,810 Syrians.
Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 reporter Lavin Omar