News / Middle East

Syrian Conflict Gives Kurds New Freedom

Scott Bobb
AFRIN, Syria — As fighting intensifies in the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Damascus, the Syrian government has withdrawn its troops from several Kurdish areas in northern Syria.  Kurdish leaders there have set up their own security force and say they intend to maintain control of their areas no matter what happens in Syria's conflict. Some Kurds see this as a step toward fulfilling the dream of having their own homeland. 

When Syrian government forces withdrew recently, the Kurdish city of Afrin came under the control of the Kurd's Democratic Union Party, known as the P.Y.D.  Afrin has its own checkpoints and flies its own flag.

Hundreds gathered in the nearby village of Jolbul to bury a local son who died fighting in the 28 year-old struggle by separatist Kurds in Turkey against the Turkish government. Most Syrian Kurds support this struggle and privately many say they aspire to the same goal: a Kurdish homeland in their region.

Kurds make up 10 percent of Syria's population but have never been officially recognized by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic. The PYD commander in this region, who goes by the name Hassan, says the Kurds now control about half of the Kurdish areas along Syria's border with Turkey.  But he notes the region also has non-Kurdish communities.

“The demographics [population distribution] do not support independence here and we are not looking for independence," Hassan explained. "All we want are our human rights and self-determination, not separation, just democratic autonomy.”

The Kurds are not taking sides in the 17-month conflict between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels of the Free Syrian Army. Commander Hassan says neither side is willing to acknowledge the Kurds' identity or demands and so their struggle will continue.

“Whatever happens, as long as the regime attacks the Kurdish people and maintains its policy regarding us, the Kurdish people will continue to sacrifice and will resist to the last drop of blood,” Hassan said.

Altogether the Kurds number about 30 million, spread across parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Their aspirations trouble the central governments of those countries.  Syria's Kurds, surrounded by conflict, are in a delicate position. But the war has given them a new freedom that they vow never to surrender.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Baran Nemrûd from: Semsûr
August 21, 2012 2:17 PM
Congratulations to VOA correspondent Bobb, for this lovely report. We expect more comprehensive reports from VOA about the Kurds in Syria who have been buried alive for decades. We Kurds have suffered a lot, and I hope our brothers and sisters in Western part of the homeland will gain their freedom.

We Kurds from the other side of the artificial border (Turkey) pray for our brothers and sisters so that they free themselves from Assad tyranny and the brutal Fundamentalist of FSA. thank you for our Baluch borher Dr Malik. We love and support Blauchi people as well.

by: Dr. Malek Towghi(Baluch) from: USA
August 20, 2012 10:51 PM
My country, the USA, EU, Russia, Israel and the whole civilized world should help the Syrian Kurds to maintain their autonomy -- and endorse the idea that the Kurds deserve and have the right to establish a United Sovereign Independent Kurdistan on their own lands now occupied by Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. LONG LIVE THE KURDS -- Dr, Malek Towghi (Baloch), Liaison, Baluch Human Rights International

by: mehmet from: TURKİYE
August 20, 2012 4:34 PM
I am a kurdish Iive southern turkey but I not want leave from turkey southern soil I want joın kurd and turkey poeople
In Response

by: Sherwan from: Iraq
August 20, 2012 8:08 PM
Dear all brother and sister everywhere, it's the time to give Kurdish people their rights.. Do all to help them..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs