Syria Kurds, regime to press talks after deadly clashes
The army and the Kurds have coordinated on security in Hasaka province against ISIS militants
Syrian regime officials and Kurdish representatives were to meet on Saturday for a second day of talks on ending deadly clashes in the northeastern city of Qamishli, a senior security source said.
A truce agreed on Friday held through the night, an AFP correspondent reported, and no gunfire was heard in the mainly Kurdish city, where control is split between Kurdish militia and the Syrian army and its allies.
The army and the Kurds have coordinated on security in Hasaka province against ISIS militants, but tensions have built up between the sometimes rival authorities.
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, 10 Kurdish fighters, and 31 troops and allied militiamen dead.
Government 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 neighborhoods 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 parts of the provincial capital Hasaka to the south.
Nearly all of the rest of the province is controlled by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), 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 ISIS.
Washington has defied angry complaints from NATO ally Ankara to provide military support to the Kurdish militia, which Turkish officials regard as an arm of the outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).