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Fierce fighting between Kurds and Islamic extremists in northeast Syria

July 24, 2013, 12:49 UTC+3

Clashes from Al-Hasakah have moved to the neighbouring Raqqa province where fierce fighting in the town of Tell Abyad on the Turkish border continues third day in a row

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BEIRUT, July 24 (Itar-Tass) - Conflict is escalating in north-eastern Syria between the Kurdish self-defence forces and extremist groups that are hatching plans to build an “Islamic emirate” in the country.

The Al Mayadeen TV station reported that clashes from Al-Hasakah have moved to the neighbouring Raqqa province where fierce fighting in the town of Tell Abyad on the Turkish border continues third day in a row. Islamist Mercenaries are shelling from guns and mortars the town and the neighbouring villages - Tell Fender, Yabisas, Sousak and Tell Akhdar. Kurdish population that fled the war zone has taken refuge there.

According to local reports, there have been cases of looting and setting houses on fire Tell Abyad, which is located 100 kilometres north of the administrative centre of Raqqa.

Extremists are turning the local Arab tribes against the Kurds, which is exacerbating ethnic hatred. Their representative Abu Firas al-Halyabi accused the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) of cooperation with the authorities in Damascus. Meanwhile, the “Kurdish brigade” that earlier was part of the so-called Free Syrian Army, has come over to the PYD side. Its fighters have disabled a few armoured vehicles, which were seized by rebel groups.

Kurdish militia commanders, according to Al-Mayadeen, have stated that they intend to fully forces members of the armed militias Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, associated with Al-Qaeda from their districts. To this end they have set up Al-Hasakah an additional 25 checkpoints, which allowed them to take control of the main roads in the north-eastern region. In response, the Islamists started to explode bombs near Kurdish barracks and party offices.

Fighting with the mujahedeen is underway in the area of Jel Agha (Al-Jawadiya) and Tell Kojar (Yarubiya) near the border with Iraq. Kurds successfully pursue militants near the city of Kobani, which creates, in the view of military analysts, a direct threat to Raqqa, seized by the rebels.

Government forces are not involved in military operations in Kurdish areas. Syrian air force, however, on Tuesday made air strikes on extremist groups’ bases in Shaddad (60 kilometres south of Al-Hasakah) and in Tabqa on the Euphrates.

The leaders of internal opposition in Syria, represented by the National Coordination Committee (NCC) met with PYD representatives and discussed with them the situation in the northeast of the country. The NCC stressed in a statement, published by the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, that “the Kurds are not going to separate from Syria and do not encroach on its territorial integrity.” “The temporary local self-governments bodies that are being created by Kurds will take care of the population and will work until stability is restored and the building of a democratic Syria begins,” the document says.

Member of the People’s Assembly (Parliament) of Syria and leader of the National Initiative of Syrian Kurds Omar Ousi for his part disproved Western and Arab media reports alleging that the PYD is going to hold parliamentary elections in Western Kurdistan and form its own government. According to him, it is a temporary administration, which will manage the Kurdish areas until the end of the Syrian crisis.

Ankara is seriously concerned over the events in the Al-Hasakah and Raqqa provinces and the prospect of the establishment of Kurdish control over the 550-kilometre Syrian-Turkish border. Military strength is being accumulated in the south-eastern boundaries of the country, and the Turkish Air Force pilots perform intensive flights over the border areas. At the order of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, the troops have been put on high alert and told “to open fire, if necessary.”

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