Damascus denies entry to UN inspection team
Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - On a day that saw another suicide bomber hit central Damascus, Bashar Al-Assad's government slammed the door at a United Nations inspection team, currently in Cyprus waiting for permission to enter the country to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons. "Syria cannot accept these manoeuvres from the UN's Secretariat-General, taking into account the truth of the negative role it played in Iraq," a Syrian foreign ministry source said.
The United Nations launched an investigation a month ago, when anti-government sources accused the regime of using chemical weapons in the village of Khan Al-Assal, in the countryside north of Aleppo.
In the city itself, unusual alliances are forming between Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG), set up to protect Aleppo's Kurdish neighbourhoods, and anti-regime rebels.
Strategically located on a hill north of the city, the Sheikh Maksoud area is turning into what rebels call 'the biggest battle for Aleppo'.
Sources in the Syrian Free Army, quoted by Lebanon's French language newspaper L'Orient le jour, said that the YPG, which are the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, provided them with ammunition and fought on the frontline against the regime.
"I carry the colours of my Kurdish brothers, even though I am an Arab," a rebel commander wearing the Kurdish yellow-red-green scarf told the paper.
Local and international sources have recently reported an unexpected alliance between rebels and Kurdish militias, which have been traditionally opposed.
In an amateur video, some Syrian Free Army fighters are seen celebrating the liberation of the Sheikh Maksoud district alongside Kurdish fighters. AP quotes a Syrian activist who said that the operation was codenamed 'Kurdish brotherhood'.
When government planes on Saturday hit the hill that dominates the north of Aleppo, killing 15 civilians, including nine children, Kurds hit back, killing five loyalist soldiers at a checkpoint.
The partnership between Kurds and Syrian Free Army against Bashar Assad is a new factor in the opposition front.
A YPG fighter said their priority was to "protect our people in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Maksoud, where the Kurdish Democratic Union Party has been rooted for years". For others, it is "question of conscience" and "fighting the same enemy."
Kurds number some 30-35 million people, divided between Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. In Syria, they are about 10 per cent of the population, mostly in the country's northeastern region.
Since the start of the revolution, Kurdish militias have stayed neutral, defending Kurdish areas from rebel incursions.
As the civil war escalated in the summer of 2012, numerous frictions were reported between Kurdish fighters and Islamist members of the Syrian Free Army in the Ras al-Ayn area, in Syria's north-east.