Kurdish factions unite against Syrian rebels

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Kurdish factions in Syria, including the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a group affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), have agreed to join forces in a standoff with hundreds of rebels in northeastern Syria, a Syrian Kurdish representative and an activist said Nov. 23.

Hundreds of fighters loyal to the PYD have been locked in fierce battles with fighters of the jihadist Al-Nusra Front and allied Ghuraba al-Sham group in Ras al-Ayn on the border with Turkey. The agreement sets the stage for an expanded conflict in the area between rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian Kurdish forces.

“We initially agreed on forming these (joint) forces that do not belong to any side, and discussions are ongoing now” in Arbil, Mohammed Rasho, a representative of the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan, close to the PYD, said.

Talks on the formation of the joint forces between the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan and the Kurdish National Council, which comprises a number of Syrian Kurdish parties, began three days ago, Rasho said, adding that they took place under the supervision of the presidency of Iraqi Kurdistan. An activist who identified himself as Havidar meanwhile said that “the two Kurdish national councils in western Kurdistan (Syria) have agreed in Iraq to create a united military force, bringing together PYD forces and other Kurdish dissidents” in Syria.

“Since the Free Syrian Army forces came to Kurdish areas, especially Ras al-Ayn,” there was in the beginning “an understanding that they would limit their deployment to Arab areas,” said Rasho.

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