Regime forces and YPG clash for control of Syria's Hasakah

YPG launch a major assault on regime-controlled parts of Syria's Hasakah to take full control of the key city after calling on regime forces to surrender.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A YPG militant carries his weapon as he take positions in the northeastern city of Hasakah, Syria, August 20, 2016. Picture taken August 20, 2016

Fighting raged in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakah as YPG militants launched a major attack on last remaining regime-controlled parts of the key city on Monday, marking the most violent confontration between the militant group and the Syrian regime forces.

According to the militant group, which is considered to be the Syrian affiliate of the PKK - which is considered as a terrorist group by Turkey, EU, NATO and the US - the attack came after the YPG called on pro-regime forces to surrender.

The offensive, aimed at capturing a security compound which is located near the governor's office close to the heart of Hasakah, began after midnight in the aftermath of intensified clashes between two parties last week.

For the first time in the almost six-years of the Syrian war, Syrian regime forces deployed warplanes against the YPG. 

Despite its affiliate group, the PKK, being on the US terror list, the YPG has been backed by the US in the fight against the DAESH terrorist organisation in Syria.

But the Damascus-based regime's recent deployment of warplanes against the YPG prompted US-led coalition forces to scramble aircraft to protect American special operations ground forces in YPG-controlled areas.  

The move by the Syrian regime, which also claims to be fighting against DAESH, has been defined as “very unsusual” by the Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis. Davis also said the regime planes did not respond to US ground forces’ efforts to contact them.

'We will not retreat'

Syrian state media blamed YPG for not abiding by a truce mediated by Russia to evacuate injured regime soldiers from the city.

But the claim was denied by the YPG, which said that they had not reached any deal with the regime yet.

"To all the elements of the regime and its militias who are besieged in the city you are targeted by our units," leaflets distributed by the YPG in the city said.

"This battle is decided and we will not retreat ... We call on you to give up your weapons or count yourselves dead."

Militants from the YPG carry their weapons as they take positions in the northeastern city of Hasakah, Syria, August 20, 2016. Picture taken August 20, 2016. Photo by Reuters.

The YPG appeared intent on leaving a nominal Syrian regime presence confined to a security zone in the heart of the city, where several key government buildings are located, local sources said.

The complete loss of Hasakah would be a big blow to regime leader Bashar al Assad and would also dent efforts by Moscow, which had sought through a major military intervention last year to help the regime regain lost territory and prevent new opposition gains.

Residents said thousands of civilians in the ethnically mixed city have fled to villages in the countryside as the fighting intensified.

Hasakah's population, swelled by displaced Syrians fleeing areas that fell under DAESH control, is broadly divided along ethnic lines, with Kurds mainly in the city's eastern neighbourhoods and Arabs in the southern parts.

TRTWorld and agencies