Posted on August 22, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Kurdistan
Kurdish YPG fighters southeast of Qamishlo city, Syrian Kurdistan. Photo: Reuters
HASAKA, Syrian Kurdistan,— Syria’s military said Sunday a truce deal has been reached with the Kurds in the flashpoint Kurdish city of Hasaka in Syrian Kurdistan, but a Kurdish source said it has yet to be finalised.
The northeastern city has been rocked by deadly clashes between US-backed Kurdish forces and fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad since Wednesday.
In a bid to calm tensions, a delegation of Russian officials from the coastal Hmeimim military airport arrived in the nearby main Kurdish city of Qamishli on Saturday for talks with the two sides.
A Syrian military source told AFP the deal was struck between regime forces and Kurdish fighters after two days of mediation by regime ally Russia.
The three-point agreement calls for a “halt to all hostilities and the return to regime forces of any positions seized by Kurdish fighters” since Wednesday, the Syrian military source said.
It also stipulates that casualties would be transferred north to Qamishli.
The military source said additional negotiations would take place on Monday.
However, a Kurdish military source told AFP from Hasaka that none of the three points had been agreed.
“No agreement has been reached on a ceasefire or the return of positions to the regime,” said the source, who declined to be named, stressing that more negotiations are due on Monday.
Earlier a source from the Hasaka governorate said a delegation of Russian officials and members of the pro-regime militia National Defence Forces (NDF) had arrived at Qamishli airport for a meeting to take place on Monday.
A local journalist working with AFP toured seven army checkpoints that had been seized by Kurdish fighters and confirmed that regime forces were back in control.
But Kurdish fighters still held three positions previously controlled by the NDF in Al-Nashwa, a southern district of Hasaka, the journalist said.
The regime and Kurdish forces share a common enemy in the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, but there have been growing tensions between them in Hasaka.
Clashes erupted last week after Kurds demanded the NDF be dismantled in Hasaka, and violence escalated on Thursday when regime warplanes bombarded Kurdish-held positions in the city for the first time.
Regime aircraft overflew the city on Sunday morning but without carrying out attacks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The unprecedented regime strikes prompted the US-led coalition to scramble aircraft to protect its special operations forces helping the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as they battle IS in Syrian Kurdistan [northern Syria].
Since Wednesday, the fighting has left 43 people dead including 27 civilians, among them 11 children, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
Thousands of civilians have fled Hasaka, where electricity has been cut and bakeries shut.
Syrian Kurds have established three autonomous zones, or Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin across Syrian Kurdistan (northern Syria) in 2013. On March 17, 2016 Syria’s Kurds declared a federal region in Syrian Kurdistan.
Washington regards the Kurdish YPG forces as key ally and the most effective fighting force on the ground in Syria and has provided weapons and special forces military advisers.
In the northern province of Aleppo, the scene of heavy clashes all month between government forces and rebels allied with jihadists, 28 civilians were among 38 people killed Saturday in strikes by the regime and its Russian allies, the Observatory said.
More than 290,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011, and millions have been forced to flee their homes.