A portrait of Hafez Assad at a Syrian army base taken by Kurdish fighters after intense fighting. Photo: YPG.
HASAKAH, Syria - The military commander of the Syrian Army in the city of Hasakah, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khaddour, has been trying for more than a month to remove all the checkpoints of the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) and push them out of the city.
Some sources have told Rudaw that the YPG and its security forces have refused the demands of the Syrian army commander, who has succeeded in removing the checkpoints of the Arab National Defense Forces in the city.
Sources say that Khaddour has tired of the situation in Hasakah, where there is more than authority on the ground. More than once, Khaddour has warned in front of his followers that he would resign if Hasakah continued to be ruled by two authorities, referring to YPG control of some neighborhoods in the city.
A YPG-controlled neighborhood was recently bombed by Syrian forces in Hasakah, indicating that tensions were coming to a head.
Some sources have confirmed that existing tensions in the city were heightened after the Arabic National Defense Forces of the Syrian regime confiscated four cars loaded with gas cylinders that belonged to the Kurdish authorities at a checkpoint. As a result, the YPG arrested more than 20 members of the National Defense, among them a captain from the Alawite sect, at the checkpoint.
"After the failure of negotiations between the Syrian regime and the YPG for the release of the 20 detainees held by the Kurdish forces, Syrian regime artillery bombed the village of Mufti, a northern Hasakah district with a Kurdish majority,” one source said.
"The bombing was direct and hit the center of the Kurdish security building in the neighborhood,” he said, adding that led to Kurdish forces attacking a Syrian regime roadblock at the northern entrance to Hasakah.
According to eyewitnesses, one soldier and a captain were at that checkpoint.
"The government has subsequently bombed Kurdish neighborhoods by focusing on the al-Mushirfah neighborhood, but there were no direct hits to the headquarters of the YPG and the Kurdish security forces,” another source said.
Other Kurdish-held neighborhoods in the city also were bombed, including by Syrian regime warplanes, the source added.
Sources told Rudaw that several officials had arrived in Qamishli Monday, including the president of the General Intelligence in Syria, Ali Mamlouk, the Assistant Regional Secretary of the Baath Party, Hilal Hilal, the Governor of Hasakah Mohammed Za'al Ali and Secretary of the Baath Party branch in Hasakah, Khalaf Muhasham. They had met with the YPG leadership and a truce was declared among the parties at 10 pm last night.
Among the consequences of the clashes was the seizure of several checkpoints and and outposts by YGP forces.
For its part, the Syrian Arab army captured neighborhoods and sites in the north and northeast of the city, and the YPG forces pulled out of some other places.
Sources reported that the Syrian Arab army on Tuesday was building fortifications in the city center and bringing tanks to the Khashman checkpoint and reinforcing its military forces.
“There is a large exodus from the Kurdish neighborhoods of Salehiyah, Mufti, al- Dahiyah, Tel Hajar, Khashman and al-Talayih,” a source said.
The displacement exceeded 70 percent and the people were heading towards the cities of Qamishli, Amuda, and Darbassiyah, while the road between Qamishli and Hasakah is still cut off. Some fleeing civilians went on foot and others by cars that went on dirt roads and others through Derbassiyah into Amuda and Qamishl, the source said.
Sources said that the elders of the Arab tribes had offered their services to Kaddour in a meeting, and there are reports of 700 volunteers from the sons of the tribes in the neighborhood of al-Nashwa joining the Syrian Arabic army against the YPG forces.
There are also attempts by the Islamic State (ISIS) to launch an attack on the neighborhood of al-Nashwa and reports of airstrikes by Syrian warplanes against ISIS militants in the same neighborhood.
"The number of victims following the clashes between the YPG and the Syrian government army in al-Hasakah reached eight dead among the YPG and a larger number among the Syrian Arabic Army,” a witness said. “People have also witnessed seven bodies of members from the government army in addition to five civilians.”
In the Brak Hill area, sources said that, “ISIS has sent a large number of fighters from Brak Hill to the Shaddadah region on Hasakah’s outskirts, while fighters from Shaddadah have advanced to the hill in an exchange of positions.”