‘ISIS seeks access to Syrian-Turkish border to secure its oil exports’
RT:You have traveled to Kurdish areas in Syria. What's their position on the civil war in the country?
Karin Leukefeld: The Kurds so far try to stay away from the armed conflict. Of course they are in opposition to the Syrian government. They have certain demands, but they did not join the armed forces against the Syrian government. What they did was they created their own sort of autonomous region in what they call Rojava, and they try to organize the people there in the autonomous regions of Kobani, Qamishli and Afrin. And a lot of Syrians have taken refuge there from the fighting between the Syrian government and the armed forces, the armed groups.
RT:Islamic State jihadists are currently making advances in Kurdish regions. How important are these territories to the militants?
KL: They needed them for economic reasons – mainly, I think, because they are plundering the Syrian oil fields and they are using the Turkish-Syrian border to bring the oil illegally into Turkey and to sell it there through people who are helping them. So they are trying to get access to the Syrian-Turkish border to use it to secure their economic needs mainly. Of course they are planning to have this, what they call the Islamic State, which they want to stretch from Lebanon along the Syrian-Turkish border to Iraq. So they want this part of the area probably also to advance further to Aleppo.
RT:What else we have seen is that Kurds wanted to cross from Turkey into Syria to help fight the Islamic State and to help their families, but they weren’t allowed to do so by the Turkish authorities. What was their thinking behind that, in your opinion?
KL: I think the Turks are really planning to have a buffer zone in that area. They want to keep all the refugees in a certain area within Syria and they don’t want to strengthen the Kurdish self-defense forces, because Turkey has a problem with the Kurds in its own country. So if they let young people cross over into Northern Syria to fight against the Islamic State this means in a way to support the Kurdish forces there, the Kurdish self-defense forces. And I think their plan really is to have a buffer zone in the area – to have the refugees there, but not to strengthen the Kurdish self-defense forces by young Kurds from Turkey.
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