Eva Savelsberg, chair of the Berlin-based European Center for Kurdish Studies, said the PYD, which is the Syria affiliate of the PKK terrorist organization, was given free rein to recruit in northern Syria by the Assad regime.

She told Anadolu Agency: “For us there is no difference really between the PKK on the one hand and the PYD on the other; the PYD is simply the Syrian branch of the PKK.”

She continued: “We should know that since the YPG and PKK are in the end the same group, of course weapons received inside Syria will also be used in Turkey. We shouldn’t be naive about that.

“So one day you can be in Turkey and fight there as part of the PKK against the Turkish state; the next day they can call you, they can tell you to go to Syria and fight there as part of the YPG, so I think it’s very clear that those weapons given to the PYD by the United States, by Russia, and of course by the Syrian regime will also be used in Turkey, so it’s quite clear that Turkey is concerned about this development.”

Savelsberg said the regime of President Bashar al-Assad had granted the PYD a form of autonomy in Syria’s northern territories at the expense of other Kurdish groups.

“What they [the PYD] regularly do, for example, is take the party offices of other Syrian Kurdish political parties. They arrest members of these parties, they are imprisoned sometimes only for a couple of days, but sometimes also for weeks or months.

“A lot of human rights organizations, for example Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, they also agree with us that there is torture in those PYD prisons.”

She added: “Another real problem is the forced recruitment which has been done since 2013. I generally think that it’s a problem to recruit people into a militia, of course, and they don’t have any chance to say ‘No, I don’t want that,’ and interestingly the Syrian regime doesn’t recruit people anymore in the Kurdish regions, so they really gave up this job to the PYD.”

Anadolu Agency