SETA: 'PYD has undeniable links with Assad regime and PKK'

Report by Turkish research foundation SETA says PYD’s militant wing in northern Syria, YPG, has had strong relations with PKK and Assad regime since beginning of civil war

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad attends an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais in Damascus in picture provided by Syrian news agency SANA on Feb. 20, 2016.

Updated Feb 26, 2016

The PYD has been allied with Bashar al Assad's regime in an attempt to benefit from the Syrian civil war since it started in 2011, a report which was released by the Turkey-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) said on Tuesday.

The report also stated that the PYD has had strong connections with the PKK since its foundation in 2003. 

The PYD is considered by Turkey to be the Syrian extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, NATO, and the EU.

Drawing attention to the oil-rich northeastern Syrian areas mostly populated by Kurds, the report said the Assad regime had previously seen the Kurdish population as a threat.

The Assad regime had arrested hundreds of PYD supporters including its leader Salih Muslim before the civil war began in northern Syria, the report recounted.

However, after the civil war broke out, the Assad regime decided to release the imprisoned members of the PYD and invited Muslim to come back to the country in a countermeasure against growing anti-regime opposition, which includes Kurdish groups other than the PYD in northern Syria, the report said.

"The PYD, unlike other Kurdish groups in northern Syria, has developed a pro-Assad policy and started to act in concert with Muhaberat, the Syrian national intelligence service, and pro-Assad Shabiha forces since the beginning of the civil war," the report claimed.

“The regime-affiliated forces then left areas [in northern Syria] to the PYD and its armed wing YPG to be captured," said the report.

Describing the PYD as "an armed non-state actor having controlled areas in northern Syria," the report said the group is trying to be "the only authority" in the region without allowing other regional communities "a right to live."

Political forces who treat PYD as a legitimate interlocutor "do not live in the reality of the region [northern Syria]" where PYD forces have been oppressing people including Kurds if they hold a different opinion other than the group, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour in late January.  

The PYD through its militant wing the YPG has been committing war crimes in the areas it captured in northern Syria by forcing people to flee, the report additionally indicated.

The London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International released a comprehensive report in mid-October indicating that YPG had committed war crimes in northern Syria by forcing thousands of non-Kurdish civilians out of their homes and demolishing entire villages.

The Turkish report further stated that the PYD has been benefiting from DAESH’s presence in Syria to present itself as "a useful actor" in US counter-terrorism operations against the armed group.

Washington does not consider the YPG to be a terrorist organisation, insisting that it has no proven connections with the PKK and is backing the group in the fight against DAESH in Syria. This has recently led to growing tension between Ankara and Washington over policy in northern Syria.

TRTWorld, AA