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Russia supports Kurds who fight against terrorist Islamic State in Syria

December 24, 2015, 18:47 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© AP Photo/Bram Janssen, File

MOSCOW, December 24. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday received visiting co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, Selahattin Demirtas. Lavrov said that "within the framework of efforts by the international community for settling the Syrian crisis it is fundamentally important to pool the capabilities of all those who are determined to resolutely fight against terrorism."

"Russia is prepared to maintain pro-active cooperation with those forces in Syria who wage a war against terrorists on the ground," he said.

Before the civil war in Syria broke out the Kurdish community in Syria had numbered some three million. Now, after the exodus of refugees and internally displaced persons and human casualties there are 2 million to 2.5 million Kurds left.

"Objectively, the Kurds were an obstruction to the Turkish authorities in their support for radical Islamists and for the local Turkomans’ militants loyal to the Turks. Syrian Kurds in the areas bordering on Turkey are a hindrance to Ankara in patronizing well-established routes of smuggling weapons and crude oil and in bringing to Turkey more jihadists and illegal migrants from all over the world," the leading research fellow of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ institute of the world economy and international relations IMEMO and the Oriental Studies Institute, Stanislav Ivanov told TASS.

"Ankara tried to deal missile and bombing strikes against Kurdish areas in Syria and suggested creating a so-called buffer zone in the border areas of Syria, where the policing functions would be placed in the hands of the oppositional Free Syrian Army. Both Washington and Brussels gave the cold shoulder to the Turkish leadership’s plans, though. Besides, the Russian air group’s involvement in the struggle against terrorists in Syria has messed up Recep Erdogan’s plans," Ivanov said.

Even amid the Turkish authorities’ anti-Kurdish campaign the People’s Democratic Party managed to clear the rather high 10-percent qualification hurdle in the November 1, 2015 election to gain 59 seats in the new parliament.

At the same time Ivanov said that the People’s Democratic Party, whose co-leader Selahattin was received by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, has nothing in common with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which some western countries regard as a terrorist organization.

"Nevertheless, in the context of a frenzied campaign against the Kurdish Workers’ Party in Turkey the offices of the parliamentary pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party came under attacks, too. But the PDP is a legal parliamentary force. Its members position themselves as Turkish citizens and campaign for the interests of all ethnic minorities. The PDP sympathizes with the Syrian Kurds, whom it regards as one of the most effective forces in efforts to settle the conflict and resist the Islamic State, but no more than that," Ivanov said.

"Syrian Kurds are not an opposition to the Bashar Assad regime. They are a third party to the intra-Syrian conflict. Syrian Kurds will be prepared to support any authorities in Damascus that would guarantee their constitutional rights within a federation or confederation or as an autonomy," Ivanov believes. "Cut off from Damascus by the Islamic State militants, Syria's Kurds are fighting weapons in hand to defend their territories in three enclaves along the Turkish border and in Aleppo. In that respect Russia supports the Syrian Kurds in their joint determination to defeat the Islamic State."

Russia’s veteran expert on oriental affairs, Georgy Mirsky, has dismissed speculations over the PDP leader’s visit to Moscow as meaningless fuss.

"He is not the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, but a representative of a legal opposition party in Turkey. Sergey Lavrov at the meeting with Selahattin Demirtas expressed Russia’s official stance in support of the Syrian Kurds who are fighting against Islamic State terrorists. Although it is true that Recep Tayyip Erdogdan will surely dislike that."

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