QAMISHLO (Kurdistan 24) – A top Syrian regime official on Sunday said military action would soon be launched against Kurdish forces and their US supporters in the country’s northeast.
“Our response will be a military operation against those criminals and traitors who are supported by the US,” Major General Jaiz Al-Musa, Governor of Hassakeh, said in an interview with Damascus-based pro-regime, Sham FM Radio.
Al-Musa referred to the fight which took place earlier this week between the Kurdish forces and regime fighters in the divided northeastern city of Qamishlo.
“We will kill all those villains and their US supporters,” he said referring to the Kurdish-led internal security force known as the Asayish.
Clashes erupted after a Syrian regime military convoy entered areas in the city that were under the control of the Kurdish internal security forces.
“They entered our areas of control and arrested civilians, and members of the patrol targeted our forces,” the Asayish argued in a statement.
However, the state-run TV and pro-regime SAMA TV claimed a government patrol was ambushed by the Kurdish Asayish in Qamishlo.
“Planned by the US, the Asayish checkpoint has turned into an ambush, and they opened fire on the [Syrian government] military security armored vehicles from all sides,” Al-Musa said.
“The brave men of the Syrian Arab Army resisted the shooting and killed several traitors who are supported by the US, Israel, and Turkey,” he further commented.
Al-Musa also claimed the Kurdish forces apologized to the government, but the latter did not accept the apology and vowed to retaliate.
“They started sending their apologies, but we reject any apology, and the response will be stronger. We will retaliate for our martyrs,” he said.
“The Asayish apologized to us and attempted to justify the crime they committed against our fighters, but we refuse all such justifications by the traitors who always follow dark, crooked ways,” he further explained.
“For every drop of our martyrs’ blood, we will kill a large number of those traitors and criminals who [do not respect] the law of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Al-Musa further threatened.
ASSAD-KURDISH TALKS AFFECTED?
The fighting in Qamishlo comes weeks after a delegation of the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) visited Damascus and held talks with the government.
The SDC, which is the political umbrella of the US-backed, People’s Protection Units-led (YPG) Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), disapproved of the clashes.
“Any escalation, at this time, will not serve any Syrian national party that believes in dialogue to find a solution to the Syrian crisis,” the SDC said in a statement on Sunday.
The SDC also called upon the concerned parties to exercise restraint and steer clear of any provocations.
“We assure our Syrian people that what happened in Qamishlo was carried out by those who want to thwart our efforts,” the SDC statement read.
However, some political analysts see the fighting as a stand-alone incident which does not represent the overall policy of the Syrian government toward the Kurdish self-administration.
“Assad needs the Kurds to rule the north but I doubt he is serious about any real form of autonomy that will satisfy Kurdish demands. He believes in a centralized Syria,” Joshua Landis, who heads the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma, told Kurdistan 24.
“He may be willing to allow Kurds to keep more of the wealth of the region but real cultural or regional autonomy comparable to Iraq? I doubt it. Baathism, Arabism and his history are all against it,” he further commented.
Kurdish forces control most of Qamishlo, but regime forces and allied militiamen hold part of the city and its airport.
Deadly clashes last broke out between Kurdish forces and pro-regime fighters in Qamishlo in April 2016 but ended days later with a truce.
Syrian President Bashar al Assad has turned a blind eye to YPG control of Kurdish-populated cities since the 2011 uprising as his army has focused on fighting mainly Sunni rebel factions seeking to topple his rule.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Wladimir van Wilgenburg)