News / Europe

Syrian Kurds Want Iraqi Border Crossing Opened

Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) chat together as they stand in front of a base, that used to be for Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, after capturing it from them in Al-Rmelan, Qamshli province, Nov. 11, 2013.
Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) chat together as they stand in front of a base, that used to be for Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, after capturing it from them in Al-Rmelan, Qamshli province, Nov. 11, 2013.
Syrian Kurds are hoping the Iraqi government in Baghdad will open a border crossing they recently captured from al-Qaida-affiliated jihadists. Competing forces within Syria and social and political divides in neighboring Iraq and Turkey, however, are big obstacles.

Syrian Kurdish militiamen have been in control since October of the town of Yaroubiya on the Iraq border after seizing it from jihadist fighters. Now their leaders want Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to open the crossing to trade and aid.

Other border crossings from Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan into the Kurdish-dominated northeast of Syria are currently closed.

Maliki and Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani have clashed politically over the division of oil revenue between Baghdad and the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish area.

Competing interests

Barzani has gone along with a months-long embargo on the Syrian Kurds imposed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who disapproves of the Syrian Kurds’ aims to set up a semi-autonomous state in the northeast corner of Syria.

Turkey has long been battling Kurdish insurgency in its territory and fears Syria could become a haven for cross-border Kurdish attacks.

But the closing of the border crossings with both Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdistan has caused considerable hardship for the Syrian Kurds, said Kovan, an activist who has asked for his family name not to be used.

“The people are using what they have got, what they have already. Everything is getting so expensive,” said Kovan.

In recent months Kurdish militiamen have pushed jihadists out of key areas and are attempting to craft a mini-state in Syria’s northeast in territory abutting both Turkey and Iraq.

The leading Kurdish party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party [PYD] has announced intentions of conducting elections and establishing a provisional regional government.

Turkey tightens grip

Since the self-rule declaration, the Turks have tightened up on the border with Syria, making it harder and more dangerous to cross illegally. The dangers were underscored last month when three young Syrian Kurds were fatally shot by Turkish border guards. The Turks said they were smugglers.

Two of them were brothers, Amer Ahmed Abdullah, aged 29, and his 17-year-old sibling, Yaser. Their cousin, Ali Abdullah, said they weren’t smugglers and had been working in restaurants in southern Turkey.

“No work, there is no job here, so they went there to work, to get life, and to get money. They weren’t smugglers," said Abdullah. "They were only working in restaurant. They came back to visit their family and go back to Turkey again but they killed.”

Syria’s Kurds are depending on locally grown fruit and vegetables. Stores are thinly stocked when it comes to goods from outside and pharmacists are short of basic medicines, including antibiotics.

There are talks underway about allowing one of the border crossings with Turkey to be opened, but the Syrian army - and not the Kurds - control it.

PYD leader Saleh Muslim recently told a Kurdish TV station that he is pinning his hopes on Iraq's Maliki opening its border.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
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 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.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs