50 regime forces surrender to Kurds in northeast Syria

AFP , Thursday 21 Apr 2016

Kurdish fighters
A Kurdish female fighter of the People's Protection Units (YPG) gestures as government forces surrender themselves to Kurdish fighters in the city of Qamishli, Syria April 21, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Fifty Syrian pro-government fighters surrendered Thursday to Kurdish forces in the northeastern city of Qamishli, a Kurdish security source said as fighting raged for the second consecutive day.

"A group of fighters loyal to the regime were taking cover in a prison in Qamishli, and Kurdish forces gave them until noon to hand themselves in," a Kurdish security source told AFP.

"When they didn't, the Kurdish forces stormed the prison, and the 50 regime fighters surrendered," he said.

He said other regime fighters from around the city were firing rockets at the prison.

Fighting between the Kurdish police force, known as the Asayish, and fighters from the pro-regime National Defence Forces erupted on Wednesday after a scuffle at a checkpoint in the city.

It resumed at around midday on Thursday, an AFP reporter said, adding that loud blasts from heavy weapons were heard across the city.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that since Wednesday 10 NDF fighters, four Kurdish forces and two civilians have been killed.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) group claimed in a statement that it carried out a suicide bombing in Qamishli on Thursday afternoon that caused several casualties.

The claim could not be independently confirmed.

In August, IS claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed 16 people in the city.

Qamishli is under the shared control of the Syrian regime and Kurdish authorities, who have declared zones of "autonomous administration" across parts of north and northeast Syria.

Syrian troops and seasoned Kurdish fighters have coordinated on security in Hasakeh province where IS militants have tried to advance, but tensions have built up between the sometimes-rival authorities.

More than 270,000 people have been killed and millions more hav been displaced since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011.

What began as a peaceful pro-democracy movement has spiralled into a complex war that has seen Kurds, regime forces, rebels, and militants carving out zones of control.

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