HASAKA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – On Sunday, a Syrian government official called on Kurds to stop the ongoing fighting between the Syrian army and the Kurdish forces (YPG and Asayish) in the Kurdish city of Hasaka and cooperate to defeat the Islamic State (IS).
In an exclusive interview with Kurdistan24, the Governor of Hasaka Mohammad Za’al Ali said that the fighting between the Syrian Kurds and the government is not to the advantage of the Kurds.
“We respect the sacrifices made by the Kurds in Syria in their fight against [IS], but their fighting against the government is disastrous,” the Governor said.
“Kurds should direct their guns towards [IS], not the government that supported them,” he said.
Regarding the ceasefire proposed by the government on Thursday, the Governor said the Kurds rejected and returned to fighting next day.
“One of our demands was lifting the siege that Kurds imposed on the government forces in the south of the city, but they rejected, and their conditions were impossible to achieve,” he said.
“One of the Kurds’ demands was ending the situation of the government-Kurdish control of the governorate, and subjecting the whole province to Kurdish control,” Ali explained.
The Governor stated that the demand of ending the government existence in Hasaka was a shocking and impossible request.
“Kurds in Hasaka are Syrians and cannot operate without the government,” Ali continued.
Concerning the Kurdish demands, the Governor said that the government welcomes peaceful negotiations, not under the force of arms.
“Kurds should remember that they are not the only component in Hasaka; there is the Arabic faction as well, and Kurds cannot impose their control by force,” he said.
KURDISH POSITION IN ROJAVA
On the Kurdish side, officials in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) denied the statements from the Hasaka Governor and clarified that the Syrian government is using the Kurds as a temporary tool.
Nawaf Khalil, head of Germany-based Kurdish Center for Studies (KCS) and a former spokesperson for the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Europe, spoke to Kurdistan24 about Kurds in Rojava.
Khalil said the Syrian government prevented Kurds from fighting against IS and imposed themselves as the only force in the province.
“From the beginning of the Syrian revolution, the Syrian regime imposed itself as the only force fighting terrorism and considered Kurds as separatists,” he said.
“Last year, the Syrian army prevented the Kurds from fighting [IS] in Hasaka by refusing to leave their positions,” Khalil explained.
“Later, they left many areas in Hasaka for the terrorists, thus Kurds had to fight and defend the city,” he added.
Clashes between the Syrian Kurdish Security forces (Asayish) and YPG against the Syrian government broke out on Aug. 16 when the pro-Assad militias known as the National Defense Forces (NDF) arrested several Kurds arbitrarily.
Despite the Syrian government launching many aerial strikes and hitting Kurdish-held positions, the Kurdish forces made notable advancements in the government-held areas in the past three days.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Kurdistan24 correspondents Heybar Othman and Ekrem Salih contributed to this report from Hasaka)