CaptionA patient at Sulaimanya Teaching Hospital suffers from serious burns after a bomb explosion near her home. Numbering 26.3 million, the Kurds constitute the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East. Since the end of the first World War they have been scattered around different countries. In Iraq and Turkey, Kurds form almost a quarter of the population, with smaller minorities in Iran and Syria. In Iraq they achieved virtual autonomy, but this has been severely undermined by factional fighting between warlords.