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Talk of Kurdish autonomy still makes Syrians squirm

In Syria, traveling from Damascus to Qamishli can prove complicated, as suspicions about Kurdish aspirations of autonomy persist.
A bird flies near a torn Syrian national flag in the city of Qamishli, Syria April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rodi Said - RTX2B18P
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DAMASCUS, Syria — At the Syrian Ministry of Information, where I and a fellow reporter recently were seeking authorization to travel to Qamishli, we were told we would also need the permission from the Political Directorate. The directorate is the press and information unit of the General Staff that controls the movements of foreign media inside Syria. A brigadier general behind the desk asked, ‘‘Why do you want to go to Qamishli?”

In Damascus, when you mention the area in northern Syria that until recently the Kurds called Rojava, suspicious looks are instantaneous. Although the Kurds accepted (not entirely willingly) the name change from Rojava to Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, Arabs, Syriacs and Turkmens are still suspicious about Kurdish aspirations of autonomy.

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