Assad regime’s jets have continued to pound Kurdish-controlled parts of the northeastern city of Hasakah for a second day, killing at least 22 residents and forcing thousands to flee.
People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia, 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.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which reports daily on the war using a network of activists, said on Friday that at least 22 civilians, including nine children, had been killed in the past two days.
Thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, were evacuated from the divided city on Friday, said Redur Xelil, a spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“Whoever can bear arms is fighting the regime and its gangs,” Xelil told the Reuters news agency, adding that dozens had been killed in the air raids.
“Our situation is so far defensive but it will change while the regime escalates in this way,” he said.
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 Assad regime’s army said in a statement on Friday that the air raids were the result of Kurdish forces trying to take over the city.
The response was “appropriate”, and any further such attacks would also be met with force, the army said in the statement, according to Reuters.
The air raids on Hasakah, which is divided into zones of Kurdishmilitas’ and Assad regime’s control, marks the most violent confrontation between the Kurdish YPG and Damascus in more than five years of crisis.
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 last week 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.