DAMASCUS, April 20, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Disarmed Syrian rebels get on a bus on the outskirts of the rebel-held town of Madaya in northern Damascus, capital of Syria, on April 20, 2016. About 500 Syrian civilians are expected to be evacuated on Wednesday from hotspots besieged by both rebels and government forces, a military source told Xinhua. (Xinhua/Ammar)
DAMASCUS, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Intense battles continued Thursday between the forces loyal to the Syrian government and Kurdish fighting groups, a monitor group reported.
The Assayish forces, the security arm of the Democratic Union Party in Syria 'PYD', and other Kurdish groups have engaged in fight against the National Defense Forces (NDF), a para-military group loyal to the Syrian army, in the predominantly-Kurdish city of Qamishly in the northeastern province of al-Hasakah for two days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The UK-based watchdog group said the battles raged on Thursday after the Kurdish fighters took control over a prison which was under the Syrian forces control in the city.
It said that the prison fell after tens of Syrian soldiers surrendered to the Assayish, adding that the Kurdish fighters are still besieging the security quarter, which is under the government control.
The eruption of violence in Qamishly is the first to take place between the Syrian forces and the Kurds. The two have an undeclared coordination in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) group in the al-Hasakah province.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on ground, said the violence broke out after both sides arrested fighters from each other with failed attempt over their release.
At least 10 government NDF soldiers were killed and 20 others were arrested by the Kurds, said the Observatory, adding that four Assayish fighters were also killed as well as two civilians, including a child.
The marketplaces in Qamishly have become paralyzed after the surge of violence there amid a displacement wave by people who live on front-lines, said the Observatory.
It added that tribesmen are trying to convince the Assayish to ease the siege on the security quarter in the city to allow ambulances in and evacuate the wounded.
Syria's official media outlets remained tight-lipped on the incidents in Qamishly amid leaks that the Russians may mediate a reconciliation between both parities.
Last month, Kurdish parties in Syria voted in favor of establishing a federal region in northern Syria.
The Observatory said then that establishing a federal region was agreed upon following a "big meeting" between Kurdish parties in the city of Rmailan along the Syrian-Turkish borders.
The federal Kurdish region would include areas in northern Syria on a triangular-basis, including the predominantly Kurdish strongholds of Kobani, Afreen and the al-Jazeera region.
The watchdog group said the majority of Arabs in that Kurdish region reject the Kurd's federal rule, deeming the move as a preliminary step for partitioning off Syria.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry warned then the Kurds against announcing federal rule in predominantly-Kurdish areas.
The Kurds, who make up 15 percent of Syria's 23 million inhabitants with most living in the north of the embattled country, tried during the conflict to keep their areas away from military operations and retain the kind of "autonomy."
In mid-2012, Syrian troops withdrew from the majority of the Kurdish areas, and Kurdish militia became responsible for security there.
After the emergence of the IS militants, the Kurds got engaged in intense battles with the group, which captured Kurdish areas in northern Syria.
The U.S.-led coalition has aided the Kurds in their battles against the IS, since the start of its strikes against the extremist militants in Syria in September 2014.
GENEVA, April 21 (Xinhua) -- The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) deplored on Thursday the upsurge in fighting in parts of Syria, warning that the cessation of hostilities agreement is integral to UN efforts seeking to broker a political solution to the five-year crisis.
"The FDFA strongly condemns any attacks directly targeting the civilian population, as was the case in recent weeks in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo," the authority said in a written statement. Full story
DAMASCUS, April 21 (Xinhua) -- China's envoy to Syria, Xie Xiaoyan, stressed on Thursday that China will continue to help push all parties in Syria to reach a solution for the long-running conflict.
"China will continue to exert efforts to push all parties to reach a solution to the Syrian issue with thoughts and wisdom," Xie, who is currently on a visit to Syria, told reporters here in Damascus. Full story
DAMASCUS, April 20 (Xinhua) -- About 500 Syrian civilians are expected to be evacuated on Wednesday from hotspots besieged by both rebels and government forces, a military source told Xinhua.
An agreement was reached for the evacuation of 250 from Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa, which are besieged by the rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib, and in return, government forces will allow 250 civilians to leave the rebel-held towns of Zabadani and Madaya in the northern countryside of the capital Damascus. Full story