Screen capture of a video showing clashes between rebels and Kurdish militias in the Aleppo suburb of Achrafieh. Posted on YouTube on October 28, 2012.
Although many Syrian Kurds joined the popular uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime at the beginning of the Syrian revolt, some have since distanced themselves from the rebellion. A week ago, for the first time since the conflict began, rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) clashed with Kurdish militias. The rebels have since accused Kurdish leaders of having made a deal to support al-Assad.
The clashes pitted FSA rebels against members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the main Kurdish political party in Syria – in the majority Kurdish suburb of Achrafieh in the northern city of Aleppo. This suburb had been, until then, spared of the violence that has shaken Aleppo since July 20.
According to local residents contacted by FRANCE 24, the confrontation broke out when several FSA rebels entered Achrafieh, and members of Kurdish militias manning checkpoints into the neighbourhood tried to chase them out. Since the start of the conflict in Syria, the PYD has declared itself neutral and has consistently tried to keep FSA fighters away from areas under its control.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, a London-based opposition watchdog, claims 30 people died in the clashes. This latest incident could signify a shift in relations between Syrian Kurds and the rebellion.
Since July, the Syrian army has been pulling out of the towns mostly inhabited by Kurds in areas bordering Turkey, and these areas are now under PYD control.
Before the start of the conflict, the Kurdish community, which accounts for almost 15 percent of the Syrian population, had been marginalised by the authorities. In March 2004, a Kurdish protest movement was bloodily suppressed
by the regime.
Images showing clashes between armed groups that are part of the FSA and Kurdish militias in the suburb of Achrafieh. Video posted on October 28 on YouTube.