[QODLink]
Middle East

Syria rebels clash with armed Kurds

Fighting near Turkey between Free Syrian Army and Kurds affiliated with Democratic Union Party leaves several injured.
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2012 17:54
Activists reported heavy clashes between government forces and rebels in the suburbs of Damascus [AFP]

Syrian opposition fighters have clashed with armed Kurds near the Turkish border, the latest sign of an emerging power struggle in Syria's ethnically diverse northeast.

Gunfire erupted on Monday in the mixed Arab and Kurdish frontier town of Ras al-Ain, which was overrun by the mainly Sunni Muslim Arab rebels on November 8 and bombed by Assad's forces in the days that followed.

Fleeing residents said the fighting was between the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Kurds affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian Kurdish party with links to Kurdish separatist fighters in Turkey.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least four Kurdish fighters were wounded in the fighting and that a rebel sniper had shot dead the leader of Ras al-Ain's local Kurdish Council, Abed Khalil.

"The injuries were the result of clashes between the two sides when rebels launched an assault on a checkpoint belonging to the Units for the Protection of the Kurdish People," it said, referring to a PYD-affiliated group.

Some residents said Kurdish fighters had attacked a house where FSA fighters were staying, and that there had been protests against the fighters in pro-PYD areas of Ras al-Ain.

Damascus clashes

The accounts could not be independently verified.

In southern Damascus, activists reported heavy clashes between rebels and government forces in the neighbourhoods of Assali and Hajar al-Aswad, while shelling was reported on the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk and in the suburb of eastern Ghouta.

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

Meanwhile, Syrian state news agency said that government forces clashed with “terrorists” in the suburbs of Damascus and in the southern city of Deir Az-zor.

The violence across the country comes as Germany said it expected Turkey to formally request that NATO missiles be placed on its border with Syria soon, but stepped back from an earlier statement that the move was expected on Monday.

"The most important thing is not whether an official request comes today or in the coming days," Thomas de Maiziere, German defence minister, said on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union defence ministers in Brussels.

Arriving at the meeting earlier, he had said he expected Turkey to formally ask NATO for Patriot surface-to-air missiles on Monday

EU ministers were examining a French call for the 27-bloc to formally recognise the opposition National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people as well as a controversial proposal from Paris to arm the rebels.

On Monday, Italy joined France as the second Western country to recognise the coalition formed at talks in Qatar on November 11 after 20 months of conflict that activists say has killed more than 39,000 people.

"We have recognised the coalition that brings together the various opposition groups as legitimate representatives of the Syrian people," Mario Monti, Italian prime minister, said in Doha.

Britain is expected to fine-tune its position on Tuesday.

508

Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list