30 dead in Syria clashes

2012-10-27 22:41
Free Syria Army (FSA) fighters battle with regime loyalist soldiers to dislodge a sniper from its position overlooking the two main roads in the neighbourhood of Askar, in Syria's northern city of Aleppo. (AFP)

Free Syria Army (FSA) fighters battle with regime loyalist soldiers to dislodge a sniper from its position overlooking the two main roads in the neighbourhood of Askar, in Syria's northern city of Aleppo. (AFP)

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Beirut - Syrian rebels clashed with Kurdish militia in the northern city of Aleppo, leaving 30 dead and some 200 captured, a watchdog said on Saturday, sparking fears of a new front in an already fractured country.

The fighting between armed rebels and members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), erupted on Friday in the majority Kurdish neighbourhood of Ashrafiyeh, it said.

"There were 30 people - Arabs and Kurds - killed in the fighting, including 22 combatants from both sides," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement, adding that Ashrafiyeh is now under PYD militia control.

Scores of people were then captured, mostly by the rebels, the Observatory said.

"More than 200 people have been kidnapped," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. "Some 20 rebels were kidnapped by the PYD. The rest of the those kidnapped are Kurds."


The area had been relatively free of the violence that has rattled Aleppo since fighting between regime forces and armed rebels erupted in the city on 20 July.

But on Thursday, residents said some 200 rebels moved into the district, announcing they had come to spend the Eid al-Adha Muslim holidays, starting the next day, in the area.

"Snipers have set up in the buildings and 50 armed men, dressed in black and wearing headbands with Islamic slogans, entered a school near me. I heard them tell the residents: 'We are here to spend Eid with you'," one resident said soon after the rebel force arrived.

"I am waiting for things to calm down before leaving," he said.

The fighting came the next day - on Friday, coinciding with the first day of a truce between Syria's warring parties which has largely been ignored by all.

Syria's Kurdish minority has on the whole remained neutral during the country's civil war, which has sown divisions among the country's patchwork of ethnic and religious groups.

The conflict, which has pitted the army, security forces and pro-regime militias against rebel fighters since a revolt against Assad morphed into an armed insurgency, has left at least 35 000 people dead, according to the Observatory.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara, the US and the EU, took up arms in the Kurdish-majority southeast of Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45 000 lives.

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