Truce between Syrian regime and Kurdish militias holds

Truce between Syrian regime and Kurdish militias holds
A truce between Kurdish and Syrian regime forces in Qamishli has entered a second day with no sign of fighting on Saturday, which follows days of violence.
2 min read
23 April, 2016
The Syrian town of Qamishli was quiet on Saturday after days of fighting [AFP]

Syrian regime and Kurdish officials were set to hold talks on Saturday, to end a series of clashes in the northeastern city of Qamishli.

Fighting between Kurdish militias and fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad broke out in Hassakeh province on Wednesday, until a truce was agreed on Friday.

That held through the night with no gunfire heard in the mainly Kurdish city and control is split between Kurdish militias and the Syrian army and its allies.

Both groups have coordinated on security in Hassakeh province against the Islamic State group - who are active in the area - but tensions have built up between the Kurdish units and regime forces.

The fighting in Qamishli began on Wednesday with a scuffle at a checkpoint and was a rare outbreak of violence between the two sides.

According to the Kurdish security forces, the three days of fighting have left 17 civilians, ten Kurdish fighters, and 31 troops and allied militiamen dead.

Regime officials and Kurdish representatives met at Qamishli's army-controlled airport on Friday and agreed to observe a truce until a lasting settlement to the dispute is reached.

"There will be a new meeting today (Saturday) at Qamishli airport," a senior security source in Damascus told AFP.

"They will discuss several points, including an exchange of fighters held by each side and the Kurds handing back control of the neighbourhoods they took from the regime," the source said.

On Saturday morning, there were fewer fighters from either side on the streets. Even checkpoints that had been erected during the fighting had been taken down overnight.

The army and its militia ally - the National Defence Forces - control Qamishli airport and parts of the city, as well as districts in the provincial capital, Hassakeh, to the south.

Nearly all of the rest of the province is controlled by the People's Protection Units, who have declared an autonomous region across the mainly Kurdish northern areas they control.

The YPG is regarded by the Pentagon as the most effective fighting force on the ground in Syria against IS.

Washington has defied angry complaints from NATO ally Turkey to provide military support to the Kurdish militia, which Turkish officials regard as an arm of the outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers Party.