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Barzani calls on Syrian Kurds to stay and fight - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Syrian refugees cross the border into the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, August 19, 2013. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Syrian refugees cross the border into the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on August 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Azad Lashkari)

Erbil and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has faced huge problems in accommodating the thousands of Syrian Kurdish refugees who have arrived in the area since Saturday. Many had to be sent to mosques and schools as a temporary measure until suitable accommodation could be found.

The UN refugee agency announced on Monday that more than 30,000 people have crossed from Syria into Iraq since last Thursday, August 15.

The president of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, Massoud Barzani, has called on Kurds in “Western Kurdistan”—the Kurdish areas in Syria—to stay and defend their land.

Barzani sent a message to Syrian Kurds saying: “You all know that since the start of the Syrian revolution, tens of thousands of our brothers from Western Kurdistan have moved into our region, and we have accommodated them in refugee camps. However, regrettably, the international community did not offer these refugees any help. Recently, large numbers of refugees flooded our region again, and I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation to the Kurdistan Regional Government for the help it offered them by providing them with transport and temporary accommodation.”

“Having said all that, the issue remains very sensitive, because we do not want Western Kurdistan to be emptied of its Kurdish residents, and our people there must stay and defend their land [and] try to attain their legitimate rights,” he added.

Meanwhile, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which controls the Kurdish areas in Syria, to join the Syrian National Coalition in confronting the danger from armed groups in Kurdish areas.

In another development in Syria, a UN inspection team arrived in the country on Sunday to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in the war between opposition and government forces.

The team, which is led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, arrived by road from Beirut and will stay for 14 days. The inspection team’s stay can be extended by mutual agreement.

The team will investigate claims by the opposition that government forces have used chemical weapons in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus.