Both Syrian regime forces and Kurdish militias have joined together to fight ISIS in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah for the first time.
The Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) and pro-Syrian regime forces are fighting their shared enemy ISIS in two districts in Hasakah city, where control has been divided between both the YPG and the Syrian regime for several years after the civil war began in Syria.
"We can't fight all alone in Hasakah because IS attacked in great numbers," a Syrian Army soldier fighting in Ghweyran told AFP.
Hasakah city, the capital of the province, was until recently relatively safe compared to Syria’s other cities in the four-year-long conflict. However, ISIS began gradually encroaching on the province and then launched an operation on Hasakah on June 25 after a series of failed attempts to infiltrate the city.
The YPG is the military wing of Democratic Union Party (PYD). The PYD is seen as a Syrian affiliate of the outlawed PKK. The PKK aspires to create an independent nation for ethnic Kurds out of parts of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. the PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the EU, NATO, as well as Turkey.
The PYD is the only Syrian Kurdish Party that is not under the umbrella of the Kurdish National Assembly - Syria, or Kurdnas, formed through the efforts of Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani.
ISIS has captured several southern neighbourhoods in Hasakah, once home to 300,000 people, and has forced tens of thousands to flee the city.
According to AFP the unofficial alliance between the YPG and regime forces has been successful, as they have encircled ISIS in the south of the city and regime forces have made significant advances in downtown Hasakah.
"We've pushed the IS guys out of Ghweyran. There's only a bit left to go," a senior army officer told AFP.
"The Kurds wouldn't have been able to encircle the IS fighters without the weapons we gave them," the officer said.
The YPG has denied receiving weapons or aid from the Syrian regime, but an AFP reporter said that their weapons are Russian-made and resemble weapons used by Syrian army soldiers nearby.
"For us, there's a single enemy, and that is IS," one fighter told AFP.