Assad regime’s air force has bombed Kurdish-held areas of the northeastern city of Hasakah for the first time in the five-year-old crisis, the Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters and a monitoring group have said.
People’s Protection Units (YPG), a crucial partner in the US-led war against Islamic State (ISIS), said it would “not be silent” over what it called it an act of aggression.
There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government.
YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said the air strikes had hit Kurdish districts of the city, which is mostly controlled by Kurdish groups, and positions held by a Kurdish security force known as the Asayish.
“There are martyrs and wounded,” he told the Reuters news agency.
Assad regime forces were also bombarding Kurdish districts of Hasakah with artillery, and there were fierce clashes in the city.
“Every hand spattered with the blood of our people will be held to account through all possible and available means,” the YPG said in a statement.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes had targeted Kurdish security forces’ positions in the northwest and northeast of Hasakah city.
It said clashes were also taking place in a number of places around Hasakah.
The YPG and Assad regime have mostly left each other to their own devices in the multi-sided Syrian war, during which Kurdish groups have exploited the collapse of state control to establish autonomy across much of the north.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance consisting primarily of YPG Kurdish fighters, said on Friday they were in control of most of the city, held by ISIS, also known as ISIS, since 2014.
The Kurdish militias launched an offensive against ISIS to retake the city of Manbij in May. Kurdish militias aimed at controlling Manbij to complete their control over northern Syria and pave the way to their autonomy goal.
The Assad regime, which routinely uses its air force against rebels in western Syria, still has footholds in the cities of Qamishli and Hasakah, both in Hasakah governorate.
The fighting marks the most significant violence between the YPG and government forces since several days of fighting in Qamishli in April.
Kurdish militias or ISIS ?
Taking Manbij could cut ISIS main access route to the outside world, paving the way for an assault on their Syrian capital Raqqa. However, the Kurdish militias have bigger plans for the area as they seek their autonomy.
The autonomous federation being planned by Syrian Kurdish parties and their allies is taking shape fast: a constitution should be finalized in three months, and possibly sooner, to be followed quickly by-elections, a Kurdish official said.
The political federation for northern Syria builds on three self-ruled regions carved out by the YPG since Syria descended into conflict in 2011 in an uprising to topple President Bashar al-Assad. It has already grown, expanding last year to include the town of Tel Abyad that was captured from Islamic State by the YPG in October.
In fact, Kurdish militias use US support to launch offensives against new areas under the term of fighting ISIS, while the force the Arab citizens to flee their homes, so the Kurdish militias can force control over new areas and add it to their contents.
They are accused of making ethnic crimes against Arab citizens in northern Syria.
Syrian Kurdish groups have made no secret of their aim to link up their two autonomous regions, or cantons, in northeastern Syria with one further west – Afrin. All that’s preventing them was the 80 km stretch of territory at the Turkish border held by ISIS near Manbij and further west by rebel groups that are hostile to the YPG.
The plan had taken on even greater significance since the Syria Democratic Forces alliance secceeded in taking Manbij from ISIS hands.