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Government forces and Kurdish troops fight for control of Hasakah


08-23-2016 12:54 BJT

Syrian government forces and Kurdish militants are fighting for control of the northeastern city of Hasakah. The two sides were once united in the fight against Islamic State. But now the government is accusing Kurdish militias of seeking to divide the country, while the Kurds believe the government has hatched a plot with Turkey against them.

A fragile ceasefire takes hold in Hasakeh city. The provincial capital in northeast Syria that withstood ISIL attacks before has fallen victim to fighting among former allies. Residents move cautiously around the streets buying whatever food they can lay their hands on. Many believe that the clashes will restart very soon.

The Kurdish YPG militia is trying to take the city from the hands of the Syrian government in a step that many view as an attempt to divide Syria and create a Kurdish entity.

It does not take long before clashes erupt again, Kurdish militants lead the charge while the Syrian army falls back and then tries to advance again and retake what it lost.

Syrian army soldiers backed by local militia from Arab tribes in the region are fighting against difficult odds. The YPG has the support of the U.S.-led coalition, which has imposed a defacto no fly zone over Hasakeh depriving the Syrian army of one of its few advantages in this battle. But Syrian soldiers say they will go on fighting.

“We will fight for the city no matter how difficult the battle may be,” a Syrian soldier said.

“It’s weird to fight against the Kurds after we fought alongside them against ISIL for so long,” a Syrian soldier said.

The Syrian army has a sizable force in the city but without air support and under the tight siege the Kurds are imposing on the city, it is unlikely that the army can hold the city for long.

The fighting for the city of Hasakeh goes on. If the Kurdish militias take Hasakeh and create a separate entity, they will threaten not just the government in Damascus but also Turkey. Such a move could send the majority of the residents of the area, who are mostly Arab tribes, in the direction of allying themselves with radical groups like ISIL to seek protection.

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