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Sweden boosts Syria funding to $376m

December 13, 2021 at 7:08 pm

Swedish flag in Malmo, Sweden [Harry Engels/Getty Images]

Sweden remains an active partner to Syria’s Kurds, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said yesterday following a meeting with officials in the region.

Linde met with co-President of the Kurdish autonomous administration’s Executive Council, tweeting: “Appreciate sincere discussion with SDC’s Ilham Ahmad on the situation in northeastern Syria. Sweden remains active partner.”

Sweden also announced a boost in its assistance in Syria to $376 million by 2023. Stockholm says the funds are aimed at “strengthening resilience, human security and freedom from violence”, along with improving “human rights, gender equality and democratic development”. Sweden does not cooperate with the Syrian regime.

The Syrian Democratic Council is the political wing of the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria. It formed in 2015 when the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) joined with various Arab groups to fight Daesh.

Kurdish groups in north-east Syria have long-attempted to gain legitimacy as an autonomous force in the territories under their control, also aiming to attain recognition from Western nations, which have backed them as partners to fight against Daesh throughout the ongoing Syrian conflict.

READ: US’ support for Kurdish groups is biggest problem for Turkey, DM says

The United States and European Union member states have subsequently sent numerous diplomatic delegations to meet with the militias and their administration. In August this year, the YPG announced that it would be opening an office in the Swiss city, Geneva, in order to build on relations with Europe.

There have emerged rising concerns, however, over the Kurdish militias’ human rights records, with reports revealing their forced recruitment of child soldiers, the shooting into crowds of protestors, and the torture of activists and abuse of ethnic Arabs in the territories under their control.

Turkey has repeatedly criticised Linde for cooperating with and helping to assist the militias, which Ankara views as a branch of the designated terrorist organisation, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Following Sweden’s boosting of its funding for the YPG, Turkey is expected to reiterate its condemnation of Europe’s ties with the militias.

Updated on 10 January 2022 at 16.40GMT removing reference to the direct financing of the YPG