BAGHDAD, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in Iraq's semi- autonomous Kurdish region said they harbored 30 Syrian Kurdish soldiers who fled the unrest in their country, an official from Kurdish regional government said on Monday.
"About 30 Syrian soldiers resorted in batches to Iraq's Kurdish region during the past few days because of the current unrest in Syria," the regional deputy minister of Peshmerga affairs Anwar Haj Othman told reporters.
"They are all Kurdish Syrian soldiers and there are no officers among them," Othman said.
"We will never hand them over to the Syrian side because they are Kurds, and as duty to protect them in accordance with our Kurdish values," he said. "They are here as refugees."
Thousands of Syrian army and security personnel have fled their units during the months-long unrest in Syria, while the United Nations put the death toll in the country at more than 5,400 early in February.