ARBIL - Iraq's northern Kurdistan region has no plans to send troops into Syria to defend fellow Kurds, a senior Iraqi Kurdish official said, despite safety concerns which have driven thousands to cross the border.
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said earlier this month his well-armed region was ready to defend Kurds living in northeastern Syria if they were being threatened by rebel militants who have captured swathes of land in the north.
But his chief of staff said it did not mean that Iraqi Kurdistan was considering sending troops across the border, a move which would drag the region deeper into a conflict that has increasingly split it down ethnic and sectarian lines.
Western powers were weighing up options on Tuesday for a possible military strike against Syria following a suspected chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb last week that killed hundreds of civilians.
"Our policy is not to intervene militarily," Fuad Hussein told Reuters in the regional capital of Arbil. "I think the Kurds in Syria, they have got their own people to defend (them)," he said.