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article imageOp-Ed: Kurd rebel leader claims Assad would not use chemical weapons

By Ken Hanly     Aug 27, 2013 in Politics
Damascus - Not all rebel groups are united in blaming Assad for what seems to be clearly some sort of chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus. Saleh Muslim head of Syria's largest Kurdish group said that Assad would not be so stupid as to use chemical weapons.
Muslim said that it would be stupid of Assad to use the weapons particularly in Damascus with the UN weapons inspectors close by and when he was gaining the upper hand in the civil war in many areas.
Muslim suggests that the attack on Wednesday was designed to frame Assad and provoke an international reaction. Indeed it has. Many western countries have already claimed that Assad is responsible and are planning responses. There are planes flying in to Cyprus. Another US warship is in the eastern Mediterranean and a meeting of western military leaders is taking place in Jordan.
Muslim said to Reuters: "The regime in Syria ... has chemical weapons, but they wouldn't use them around Damascus, 5 km from the (U.N.) committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so".
Muslim's own Kurdish Democratic Union Party(PYD) has its own well-armed militias. They have clashed with both Assad forces and militant rebel forces. They seem to concentrate upon control of the territory they occupy. Assad forces on the whole have been content to use their scarce resources elsewhere. However, Islamic militant rebels have challenged the Kurd control of territory and their have been many serious clashes between the groups.
A Kurdish source reports: "Violent clashes between Syrian Kurdish guerrillas and Islamic-jihadist militants of al-Qaeda-linked gangs, supported by some brigades of the Arab-Free Syrian Army (FSA), are taking place in the border Kurdish towns of Tall Abyad and Sêré kaniyé (Ras al-Ain) in western Kurdistan (north and northeastern Syria). ..
Between 21 and 23 August, over 100 jihadists of al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, both affiliated to al-Qaeda groups, and members of the FSA have died in the clashes. "
Muslim suggested that there were "some other sides who want to blame the Syrian regime, who want to show them as guilty and then see action" were behind the chemical attack. Muslim' s statements should remind everyone that the opposition is made up of many different groups. Muslim went on to suggest that if the U.N. inspectors found evidence Assad was not behind the gassing, "everybody would forget it". Muslim asked rhetorically and sarcastically: "Who is the side who would be punished? Are they are going to punish the Emir of Qatar or the King of Saudi Arabia, or Mr. Erdogan of Turkey?" The Kurds are particularly suspicious of Turkey whom they accuse of supporting the radical Islamists who are in conflict with the Kurds.
The Kurds have slowly been consolidating their control of northeast sections of Syria. They maintain they are not seeking to divide the country but they are moving towards autonomy of the sort that is already in place in northern Iraq. The group said in July that it was setting up a transitional council. There is already a broad fragmentation of Syria into Kurd-controlled northeast, a government held area around Damascus, and the Mediterranean, and a rebel held area from around Aleppo along the Euphrates River Valley all the way to Iraq.
While Muslim's Democratic Union Party fights Al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants, Turkey, the US, and NATO all consider the PYD a terrorist organization. Some rebel groups accuse the party of having close relationships with Assad. It is not one of the good rebel groups that can expect arms from the Gulf States and the west. As the Islamists take control of some areas, the Kurds are fleeing over the border into Iraq as shown in the enclosed video.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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