Last updated: 29 July, 2012

Syrian opposition chief visits Iraqi Kurdistan

Syrian National Council chief Abdel Basset Sayda is on a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan in a bid to convince Kurdish leaders to join the opposition, an official from a Syrian Kurdish group said.

“Abdel Basset Sayda arrived tonight (Sunday) in Arbil, and he will meet the president of the Kurdistan region, Massud Barzani, and other Kurdish leaders” on Monday, a high-ranking official in the Kurdish National Council (KNC) told AFP.

“Sayda wants to reach an agreement with Kurdish leaders to join the Syrian National Council,” the official said, adding that the meeting will be attended by the Supreme Kurdish Council, which includes the KNC and the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK).

The KNC is close to Barzani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, while the PCWK is close to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984 and has bases in the autonomous Kurdistan region in north Iraq.

The official also said that Sayda had made a previous secret visit to Kurdistan to meet Barzani and other Kurdish leaders after he took up his post in June.

Activists say more than 20,000 have been killed since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in March 2011.

The country is home to some 2 million Kurds, and Sayda himself is Kurdish. The KNC and the PCWK united under the Supreme Kurdish Council earlier this month.