07/18/2013, 00.00
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Kurds and Islamists clash along Turkish border

In Ras al-Ain, Kurds inflict a heavy blow against anti-Assad Islamist fighters. Caught between rebels and the regime, the Kurds have set up their own People's Protection Units.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Syria's civil war could be further complicated by a third player intervening in the already complex rebel patchwork fighting Assad. Along the Turkish border, Kurds fighting to protect their territory in northeastern Syria inflicted a crushing defeat on the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front. The clash between Kurdish fighters and jihadists erupted after Al-Nusra Front attacked a convoy of Kurdish fighters.

Local sources said that at least nine jihadists were killed in Ras al-Ain, a strategically important Kurdish area on the border between Syria and Turkey used by foreign fighters to swell rebel ranks in the struggle against the regime.

Kurdish fighters took total control of Ras al-Ain "after 24 hours of fighting. The (jihadist) groups were expelled from the whole of Ras al-Ain, including the border post" with Turkey, one source said.

People's Protection Units (YPG) are the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian Kurdish political party.

Since the beginning of the civil war in 2011, Syria's Kurdish minority has always defended its own interests.

Set up for this purpose, People's Protection Units have kept away from both the rebel cause and the regime, holding a neutral position or opposing both sides depending on circumstances.

In early April, the Lebanese newspaper L'Orient Le Jour published reports about Kurds and rebels joining forces against the army in the northern neighbourhoods of Aleppo, but clashes like yesterday's have already occurred in recent months in north-eastern Syria.


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