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KURDISH FORCES GAIN UPPER HAND IN BATTLES IN SYRIA’S HASAKAH

DAMASCUS, Syria, - Kurdish forces have captured several government positions, following an attack they waged after midnight, in Syria's north-eastern city of Hasakah, a well-informed source said.

Just hours after the announcement that a truce had been reached, between the Kurdish forces and the Syrian government forces, to defuse tension in Hasakah on Sunday evening, the Kurdish groups of Assyaish and the People's Protection Units (YPG) attacked several government positions in that area.

The Kurdish fighters captured the eastern part of Ghwairan, a large predominantly Arab district, that has been divided between the Kurdish and the government control, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also, the Kurds captured a government compound, including two institutes, the facilities of economy and engineering, as well as, silos and the government-run Sadcop oil company, the source added.

He said, the Kurds are trying to reduce the presence of government forces in the city, to a small security zone.

After the advance of the Kurds, the government now is only in control of the western part of the contested district of Ghwairan, as well as, the neighbourhoods of Meridian, al-Omran, Qudat, Mahatta, Layliyeh and downtown Hasakah.

In the city of Qamishli inside Hasakah, the government is in control of the airport, a security zone, in addition to the al-Zind neighbourhood and nearly 50 villages in the countryside, according to the source.

Earlier in the day, Kurdish forces violated a truce, which was mediated by the Russians.

Assayish members attacked several government positions in the city, in addition to targeting the neighbourhoods of Nashwa and Ghwairan and a Syrian army checkpoint.

Meanwhile, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said, intense battles renewed in the Naswha and Ghwairan areas, amid the advance of the Kurdish forces.

The U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition, also scrambled war planes in Hasakah on Monday, after bringing in reinforcement to one of its bases near the city, according to the Observatory, which says, it relies on a network of activists on the ground inside Syria.

A day earlier, a truce was reached between Syrian forces and Kurdish fighters in Hasakah under Russian mediation.

The "regime of calm" includes a cessation of battles, evacuation of wounded people, return to the previous lines of both parties, and the start of negotiations.

The cease-fire was supposed to start as of 5 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) on Sunday, coupled with transporting the wounded to hospitals, in the city of Qamishli in Hasakah.

The military positions should return to their previous state, and negotiations were set to start on Monday, at the Qamishli airport, between representatives of both sides and Iranian and Russian mediators, according to the agreement.

Tension started to rise last week, when both the National Defence Forces (NDF) and Assayish, arrested members of each other.

The NDF is a paramilitary group formed in the early years of the five-year crisis, that backs government forces. Its initial task was to fill in the positions recaptured by the Syrian army.

Later on, the group, which largely composed of fighters from the Alawite sect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, started fighting alongside the army.

In recent months, the NDF, which is mostly referred to as pro-government fighters, have become more organised with headquarters present in most Syrian cities and accepting recruits from local communities in each city.

As the situation in Hasakah got more tense, the Kurdish militias demanded the dissolution of the NDF there, a request rejected by the Syrian army.

Later on, the Assayish started shelling NDF positions inside Hasakah, prompting the Syrian army to respond with air strikes for the first time, according to the source.

The Assayish and the YPG unleashed major offensives against NDF positions inside Hasakah, triggering further shelling and air strikes by government troops.

80 percent of the residents of Hasakah have fled to areas in the countryside, as a result of the latest confrontation.

In previous bouts of tension between Syrian government forces and the Kurds, both parties had managed to contain the situation and avoid further confrontation.

The YPG and other Kurdish militant groups have been assuming positions in Hasakah since 2012.

At the time, there were reports about a tacit agreement between the Kurds and the Syrian government.

Buoyed by the support of the U.S.-led coalition, the YPG and the allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have made sweeping victories against the Daesh in key areas in northern Syria.

The Russians were said to have also backed the Kurdish fighters, in their push against the Daesh, but no Kurdish group have admitted receiving such support from Russia.

Source: Nam News Network