Iraq Kurd leader [Barzani] voices backing for Syria Kurds
Syrian Kurds want referendum after fall of Assad
ARBIL, Iraq — Syrian Kurdish party leaders said they want a referendum after an eventual fall of embattled President Bashar al-Assad to decide on their people's future as part of Syria.
More than 200 Syrian Kurds from 25 countries are taking part in a two-day conference in the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Arbil.
"In Syria, we will not obtain the same thing as the Iraqi Kurds because the circumstances are different," Hamid Darwish, head of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party of Syria, told AFP on the opening day.
"We wants our national rights to be written into the constitution and approved by our Arab brothers," he said.
Abdul-Hakim Bashar, who leads the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria, said his people had "the right to self-determination within the framework of the unity of Syria and based on the principle of decentralisation."
Kurds account for about nine percent of Syria's population. They have several rival parties, all of which are officially banned, seeking political and administrative rights for their community.
They have supported the anti-regime protests that broke out in mid-March and have claimed thousands of lives as Syrian authorities crack down on dissent and battle army deserters.
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, president of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, earlier Saturday backed the minority Kurds of neighbouring Syria.
"We do not want to interfere in the affairs of Kurds in Syria, but we will help and support your decisions," he said. "But on condition that you remain united during this sensitive period, and that you avoid internal conflicts."
He continued: "The situation is important to us because it (Syria) is a neighbouring country, we have a long border with it, and more than two million Kurds live there. It is important to know their future."
Iraq's Kurdish region, comprised of three provinces in the north, enjoys broad autonomy under the country's 2005 constitution.