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 Activists demand end to violence in Syria's Kurdish city of Ras al-Ain

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Activists demand end to violence in Syria's Kurdish city of Ras al-Ain  23.1.2013   


A video claims that rebels have captured and beaten Kurds in Ras al-Ain (Serêkaniye) in Syrian Kurdistan. Photo: AFP  See Related Articles

January 23, 2013

BEIRUT,— At least 56 people have been killed in a week of fighting in Syrian Kurdistan in northeast Syria between anti-government rebels and members of the Kurdish minority, as anti-regime activists demand a halt to the bloodshed.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collates reports on Syria’s violence from local activists, said Tuesday that the anti-government rebels were using tanks and mortars Tuesday against Kurdish forces.

Fighters from the Kurdish People’s Defense Units militia clashed with several Islamist rebel groups in the majority Kurdish city of Ras al-Ain (Serêkaniye)  in the Governorate of Hassakeh (western Kurditan), the Observatory said.

“The clashes erupted [last] Wednesday ... and [have] resulted in the deaths of at least 56 fighters,” the group said.

The People’s Defense Units are affiliated with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The rebel Free Syrian Army has pledged to work with Syrian Kurds, and rebel flags have joined Kurdish flags at anti-regime demonstrations in towns and


villages in the northeast. But activists blame Islamist rebels outside the FSA framework for sparking the fighting in Ras al-Ain (Serêkaniye).

The Local Coordinating Committee of Hassakeh issued calls for the fighting to cease, as activists denounced “the diversion of the revolution.”

“This is a call to every free person, to stop this farce that is now taking place in Ras al-Ain,” an activist posted.

“If the battalions fighting in Ras al-Ain have any extra ammunition, let them send it to Homs, or [the Damascus suburb of] Daraya – that is where the battles of heroism and honor are taking place, and not in Ras al-Ain,” he continued.

A video posted this week on YouTube purports to show Islamist rebels detaining and briefly abusing several members of what they say are members of the PKK, although they are likely members of the party’s Syrian allies.

The video is entitled “crimes of the Free Syrian Army in Ras al-Ain,” although it is unclear whether the rebels are part of the FSA or one of the Islamist groups outside its rubric.

Pro-uprising activists in other parts of the country have also demanded an end to the fighting in Ras al-Ain.

The fighting is one of many sectarian or ethnic fault lines that have prevented the emergence of a single coherent movement to try to oust President Bashar Assad since insurgents took up arms after the government cracked down on peaceful protests in March 2011.

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