Syrian government besieges Kurdish neighborhoods in Aleppo

The Syrian government has blocked supplies to the Kurdish Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood (Photo: ANHA)
The Syrian government has blocked supplies to the Kurdish Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood (Photo: ANHA)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Syrian government is besieging the Kurdish-held neighborhoods of Al-Ashrafiyyah and Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitor reported on Monday.

SOHR said the siege threatens the lives of 200,000 civilians living in these two neighborhoods.

The Fourth Division and State Security Service have reportedly prevented the entry of food, flour and oil products to the two neighborhoods for over 20 days, causing shortages of these essential products.

"In addition, most bread bakeries suspended their work, along with deteriorating living conditions in light of the shortage of basic essentials and prohibitively high prices, which ignited a state of public anger in the two neighborhoods," SOHR reported.

The local communities affiliated with the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) have not been able to provide a daily allocation of bread to civilians.

"When the residents asked about the reason behind not distributing their bread, they were informed that flour was not available due to the siege and that the warehouses of flour reserve are completely empty," read the SOHR report.

Sheikh Maqsoud has been under the control of Kurdish forces since 2012.

The Syrian government has tried to avoid tensions with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and largely turned a blind eye to their control of Kurdish-populated cities since the 2011 Syrian uprising as it focused on fighting rebel factions seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Nevertheless, pro-Syrian government forces and Kurdish forces have clashed several times in the past, especially in the towns of Hasakah and Qamishlo.

The Syrian government has also occasionally blocked supplies from reaching Kurdish neighborhoods in Aleppo city or Kurdish villages near Tal Rifaat in northern Aleppo due to tensions between SDF and Syrian government forces.

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In October 2019, Syrian government forces entered Tal Tamr and other towns under a Moscow-backed agreement with the SDF following a Turkish offensive in the area. 

Despite this, tensions continued between Damascus and the SDF. Both sides have failed to reach an agreement on the future of local autonomy in northeastern Syria despite Russian mediation. 

Read More: Syrian government pushing for reconciliation deals with SDF-held regions

Damascus has also shown discomfort with the continued US presence in the Hasakah and Deir al-Zor provinces.