Kurd-jihadist clashes intensify near Turkey

Kurd-jihadist clashes intensify near Turkey

Kurd-jihadist clashes intensify near Turkey

Buildings damaged by what activists said was shelling by Syrian forces in Daraya is seen in this photo. Clashes rage near the Turkish border. REUTERS photo

Fierce clashes raged Jan. 18 in the majority Kurdish northern Syrian city of Ras al-Ain on the Turkish border, a day after a sniper killed a French journalist in Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed Yves Debay’s death, after Aleppo-based activists accused regime troops of the shooting, and distributed photographs of his body and press card.

The fighting in Ras al-Ain came six months after troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad withdrew from majority Kurdish areas, leaving residents to fend for themselves. Jihadists have since staged several assaults on the strategic city, and most of its residents have fled. Syria’s Kurds are divided over the revolt against al-Assad, some support the regime, others back the revolt and yet others are striving to stay neutral.

‘Jihadists capture tank’

 Fighters from radical groups Al-Nusra Front and Ghuraba al-Sham battled Kurdish militiamen a day after launching a new assault on the border town. A Kurdish resident of Ras al-Ain, who said he opposed al-Assad’s regime, said the jihadists crossed the Turkish border with three tanks into Ras al-Ain on Jan. 17.

 “The Kurdish fighters have seized one of the tanks,” the activist, who identified himself as Havidar, told Agence France-Presse via the Internet. Activists say they fear Turkey may be using jihadists in Syria to fight its own battle against the Kurds.