News / Middle East

Kurds Drive Islamist Militants from More of Northeast Syria

FILE - An officer of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) stands guard near the Syrian-Iraq border.
FILE - An officer of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) stands guard near the Syrian-Iraq border.
Reuters
Syrian Kurdish fighters have captured more territory from Islamist rebels in northeastern Syria, a Kurdish militant group said on Monday, tightening their grip on an area where they have been setting up autonomous rule.
 
The Kurds said they had routed their rivals in three days of battles, while Islamist sources spoke of a tactical retreat.
 
Syria, tugged by various regional conflicts, has frayed into a patchwork of warring ethnic and sectarian pockets, tilting the balance of power in some of its Middle Eastern neighbors.
 
Kurdish assertiveness has posed a quandary for Ankara as it tries to make peace on its own soil with militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a rebel group which has fought for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.
 
Turkey fears a power grab by Kurdish militias in Syria may embolden the PKK militants. But it is also uneasy about swaths of territory on its border falling to al-Qaida-linked rebels.
 
Redur Xelil, spokesman for the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), said Kurdish militias had seized the city of Ras al-Ain and all its surrounding villages.
 
Ras al-Ain is in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah bordering Iraq and Turkey. Its population is 70 percent Kurdish and 30 percent Arab.
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said the Kurds had seized at least 19 towns in the area.
 
Majority Sunni Arab Muslims have led the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, in which Kurds have played an ambivalent role, but rebels are also fighting among themselves.
 
Islamist militants have clashed with more moderate groups in mostly rebel-held northern Syria, and have battled Kurds in northeastern border areas for months.
 
Xelil said the latest Kurdish advance had followed fierce fighting in the past three days. “This was not a retreat, they [the Islamists] were defeated,” he told Reuters by telephone.
 
“We did this because they were a direct threat to Kurdish regions. There were daily attacks from their side.”
 
A source linked to the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front said the Islamists had withdrawn without a fight, citing problems in convincing enough militant units to stay on the frontline.
 
The Islamists are falling back to Tel Abyad, another northern town bordering Turkey, and rebel sources reported clashes with the Kurds in that area as well.
 
Xelil said Kurdish fighters would press on to Tel Abyad.
 
“As long as they are there they are still threatening our areas. We will retake all the territory between Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ain,” he said.
 
Turkish officials say they have had meetings with Syrian Kurdish groups, expressing willingness to work with them if they remain opposed to Assad, promise not to seek autonomy through violence or before Syria's wider conflict is resolved, and  pose no threat to Turkey's own security.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid