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Kurds

Friend or foe? Assad quietly aids Syrian Kurds against Turkey

ALEPPO/BEIRUT: Syria’s US-backed Kurds are getting indirect help from an unlikely source in their war against Turkey in the northwestern region of Afrin: President Bashar al-Assad. Pro-government forces and Kurdish-led forces have fought each other elsewhere in Syria and Damascus opposes the Kurds’ demands for autonomy. But in Afrin they have a common enemy and a mutual interest in blocking Turkish advances. Turkey, which regards the Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin as a threat on its southern border, launched an assault…

Turkey detains top medical group members over Syria criticism

ANKARA: Turkey on Tuesday detained all the top members of the country's main medical association, including its chief, after they criticised Ankara's offensive against Kurdish militia in Syria. The arrests came after the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), which represents 80 percent of the country's physicians, issued a statement saying that conflicts lead to "irreparable problems" and that "war is a man-made public health problem". The TTB ended its statement on Wednesday with the words: "No to war, peace right now".…

Barzani to step down as Kurdish leader in Iraq

ARBIL, IRAQ: Massud Barzani, the president of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, told a closed-door session of parliament Sunday he was stepping down amid the fallout from a controversial independence referendum. "After November 1, I will no longer exercise my functions, and I reject any extension of my mandate," the 71-year-old said in a letter read out to parliament in the Kurdish capital Arbil. "Changing the law on the presidency of Kurdistan or prolonging the presidential term is not acceptable," said the…

Iraq Kurds offer to freeze independence vote

ERBIL/BAGHDAD: Iraqi Kurdish leaders offered on Wednesday to freeze the outcome of last month's vote for independence, taking a step back in a major crisis that prompted Baghdad to seize swathes of disputed territory. The offer came as world powers scrambled to avert any further escalation of the conflict between the key allies in the fight against the Islamic State group that has seen more than 30 combatants killed. There was no immediate reaction from Baghdad but the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) force,…

Baghad accuses Kurds of ‘declaration of war’

BAGHDAD: Baghdad said on Sunday that foreign Kurdish forces were present in the province of Kirkuk in what amounted to a "declaration of war", dramatically raising the stakes in its dispute with Iraq's Kurds. Kurdish officials denied Baghdad's claim that forces from Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were among its peshmerga fighters in an armed standoff with Iraqi troops in the oil-rich province. But the National Security Council headed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said PKK fighters were among…

Iraq tensions rise after Kurds warn of attack

BAGHDAD: Tensions escalated between Iraq's Kurds and Baghdad on Thursday as warnings of a "major attack" by government forces prompted Kurdish peshmerga fighters to temporarily block roads from other parts of the country. The move came just over two weeks after Kurdish voters overwhelmingly backed independence in a non-binding referendum the central government slammed as illegal. Iraqi Kurdish forces closed the two main roads connecting Arbil and Dohuk with Mosul for several hours, a Kurdish military official said.…

Iran puts economic squeeze on Iraqi Kurds

TEHRAN: International pressure mounted on Iraqi Kurdistan Saturday after its controversial independence "yes" vote, with neighbouring Iran announcing joint border drills with Iraq and banning fuel trade with the autonomous region. A day after a cut in foreign air links with the region, Iran's state broadcaster said all transport companies and drivers have been ordered to stop carrying fuel products between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan "until further notice". Diesel is one of Iran's main exports to the Kurdish region,…

Erdogan sees Israel’s hand in Iraqi Kurdistan vote

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Israel's Mossad intelligence agency played a role in Iraqi Kurdistan's independence vote, proved by the waving of Israeli flags during celebrations of the overwhelming "yes' vote. Ankara fiercely opposed the referendum and has threatened sanctions against the region, reflecting its worries about its own sizeable Kurdish minority. During a televised speech, Erdogan claimed that Turkey had been saddened to see some Iraqi Kurds acclaiming the…

Iran slaps fuel trade embargo on Iraqi Kurdistan

TEHRAN: Iran has embargoed exports and imports of fuel products to and from Iraqi Kurdistan in response to the region's controversial independence referendum, Iranian media reported on Saturday. All transport companies and drivers are ordered to stop carrying fuel products between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan "until further notice" or face "consequences", the state broadcaster's website reported citing a transport ministry directive. Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence in Monday's non-binding referendum,…