British Labour officials pledge solidarity with Syrian Kurds

British Labour officials pledge solidarity with Syrian Kurds in high-level visit
2 min read
04 April, 2018
Turkish armed forces seized Syria's Afrin region last month and drove out Kurdish YPG militia after launching a military operation in the north of the country in January.
Syrian Kurds have carved out autonomous cantons in the north. [Getty]
A delegation of officials from Britain's Labour party visited the Kurdish-led authority in northern Syria on Tuesday where they pledged to stand with the autonomous region in the face of Turkey's military offensive.

"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," said Maurice Glasman, a Labour peer in the House of Lords.

"We also bring, with a full heart, our solidarity," he said in Qamishli city, in a stretch of the country which Syrian Kurdish forces mostly control.

Last month, Turkish armed forces seized Syria's Afrin region and drove out Kurdish YPG militia after launching a military operation in the north of the country in January.

Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.

Since the start of Syria's conflict the YPG and its allies have carved out autonomous cantons in the north and set up a federal system of government.

Their power grew after capturing vast territory from the Islamic State group with the backing of the United States.

Syrian Kurdish leaders have repeatedly stated they seek autonomy as part of a decentralised Syria rather than secession.

Abed al-Karim Omar, a top member of the self-administration in the north, said the British group that arrived on Tuesday 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 MPs would discuss Afrin and the tens of thousands residents displaced there, Omar added.

Glasman said they would tour parts of northern Syria, meeting fighters of the YPG and its all-female YPJ affiliate, as well as local civil councils.

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle said they would "share that back in England with our parliament and with our people," and that he hoped for better scrutiny of arms sales to Turkey.

"We want to say we are with you side by side," he said.