Syrian rebels and Kurds battle for control of Aleppo

Syrian rebels and Kurds battle for control of Aleppo
3 min read
28 September, 2015
In Aleppo, a perplexing struggle is being played out between the four main actors in Syria's war. On Sunday, Kurdish militants captured an Aleppo neighbourhood from Syrian rebels.
Kurdish militants have been battling IS militants throughout northern Syria [Getty]

Syrian rebels and Kurdish militants continued to battle it out for control of Aleppo's Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood for the fourth day in the row.

Fighting has been centered on a major road in the Sheikh Maqsoud district, which connects the city to the northern countryside, between al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham militants, and Kurdish fighters.

The road is said to be a lifeline for the Syrian rebels based in Aleppo, according to Syria Deeply.

Aleppo Media Centre reported that a man and woman were killed during the fighting when their car came under fire on the al-Kastilo road.

Images of trucks alight after being hit by suspected Kurdish shells, have also circulated on social media.

Residents of Aleppo's rebel-held Salah al-Din neighbourhood took to the streets in small numbers on Sunday to protest against suspected Kurdish militant attacks on civilians.

Banners were carried reading "YPG, we will drive you out of Sheikh Maqsoud as we expelled the Islamic State group from Aleppo", and other statements denouncing the Kurdish rebel group.

Clashes broke out after YPG fighters set up road blocks on the border of Sheikh Maqsoud and a regime-held neighbourhood.

Al-Araby al-Jadeed's Syria correspondent said that the move goes against a rebel-Kurdish agreement that checkpoints should not be set up on neighbourhoods connected to regime-held territories - essentially an act of normalisation.

Pro-regime newspapers reported that Kurdish fighters overran Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood forcing rebel fighters and their families to flee.

A fighter in Ahrar al-Sham told ARA news on Monday that rebels did withdraw from the district on Sunday night.

"Our forces tried to avoid further losses in clashes with the YPG. Our main fight is against the regime forces, that's why we decided to withdraw entirely from Sheikh Maqsoud," the fighter told ARA news.

However, Syrian activists reported skirmishes between the two groups on the outskirts of the district on Monday.

Although rebels and Kurdish forces have fought side-by-side against IS, including the liberation of Kobane, there have been flare-ups over the YPG's treatment of Arab civilians.

There have also been reports of the mass-displacement of Arab civilians in areas that the Kurdish fighting groups have captured from the Islamic State group

Rumours persisit about the murder of Arab civilians in Kurdish custody.

This is includes the suspected extrajudicial killing of Ayman al-Tahri, in Tal Abyad, by his Kurdish jailers in June, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

On 26 September, Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh al-Muslim told UK newspaper The Independent that the fall of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would be a "disaster" for "everyone".

In the interview, Muslim also said that al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham  have "the same mentality" as IS.

Kurdish militias have been fighting with IS in Syria's north-eastern province Hassakeh province alongside the regime.

Muslim denied that there is any collaboration between the two groups, although many in the opposition camp believe otherwise.

Clashes in the province continued in Monday, with an IS mortar attack on a regime checkpoint killing three soldiers according to ARA news.

The regime also have advanced on two IS-held villages in Aleppo province as they attempt to break a regime cordon of a Syrian airforce base

Kweres has been under sustained attack by IS militants in recent weeks, and the support column is hoping to save the fighters from falling to the extremists.