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article imageTrench planned for border between Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan

By Paul Iddon     Apr 15, 2014 in Politics
In Iraqi Kurdistan a trench is being dug along the frontier with Syria in order to prevent militants from that war torn country illegally crossing into that territory.
AFP quotes the spokesman for the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga army Halkurd Mullah Ali explaining how, "The trench is designed to prevent infiltration of members of terrorist groups and [to] stop smugglers."
He elaborated adding that smugglers have begun "operating in these areas because the Syrian authorities lost control of them, and these areas became insecure."
Peshmerga Brigadier General Hashem Yeti has also said that, "We arrested terrorists and smugglers trying to infiltrate into [Iraqi] Kurdistan."
The trench will be about 10 miles long and two meters deep as well as three meters wide. It is part of an Iraqi government strategy put in place to protect that country's relatively porous 600-mile border with Syria.
Rudaw informs us that this plan has added to tensions between Arbil (the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan) and Rojava (the capital of the Syrian Kurdish province).
Rojava has stated it thinks the trench is part of an effort to isolate the Syrian Kurdish areas. A powerful Syrian Kurdish group which calls itself the Democratic Union Party (the PYD) are bitterly opposed to the construction of this trench saying it is little more than an attempt to blockade Syria's Kurdish population. It has already closed its border crossing with Iraq in protest leaving hundreds who were trying to cross since waiting.
However deputy Peshmerga minister Anwar Haji Osman of Iraqi Kurdistan said the trench is a necessity. Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have recently infiltrated deep into Iraq and led large militant campaigns against the Baghdad government in the predominately Sunni Iraqi provinces of Anbar and Nineveh.
He has conceded however that given tensions within Iraq between the Maliki government in Baghdad and the Kurdish autonomous policies in northern Iraq that the cooperation between the two political entities now is indeed "complicated."
Osman has said that the Peshmerga have arrested many people on that border attempting to smuggle arms into Iraq. He said that before now "we have not been able to protect the border as required. Until now, nearly 1,000 people have been arrested with light and heavy weapons."
He went on to claim that these weapons originated from Iranian and Russian sources.
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