Middle East

Clashes between Kurdish, government forces kill 1 in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — Kurdish security forces said Wednesday that Syrian government-allied fighters killed one of their personnel in an overnight attack on a checkpoint, in a city the two groups share control of in northern Syria.

The fighting began when a group known as the National Defense Forces attacked the position manned by the Kurdish security forces in the city of Qamishli, Hawar, a Kurdish news agency also reported. The Kurdish security forces, known as Asayish, said one of their own died after sustaining wounds in the fighting late Tuesday.

Intense firefights could be heard across the city overnight. Kurdish security forces deployed around Qamishli, taking cover behind walls and firing at the government-allied group in the distance.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the attack on the checkpoint. There was no official report from the Syrian government or its allied forces.

Qamishli in northeastern Syria is mainly controlled by the Kurdish forces, although government troops and allied militia have a security presence near the airport and other neighborhoods.

Tensions occasionally flare between the two sides over territory, leading to fighting. Violence also breaks out during political disputes between the Kurdish group, dominant in Syria’s northeast, and the central government in Damascus.

The Kurdish security forces accused the government-allied forces of seeking to “sow sedition and create instability for the people of our areas.”

The Kurds, Syria’s largest ethnic minority, have carved out a semi-autonomous enclave in Syria’s north since the start of the civil war in 2011. In the area, the dominant Kurdish group, which has allied with the United States to combat Islamic State militants in the area, has developed its own administration and controls most of Syria’s oil resources.

The Kurdish-led administration has been demanding recognition as a semi-autonomous entity as well as representation in political negotiations with the Syrian government. UN-led political negotiations have achieved little in containing Syria’s 10-year-old conflict.

By AP News

FILE PHOTO: Kurdish-led militiamen ride atop military vehicles as they celebrate victory over Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria, October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

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