Kurdish Fighters and Syrian Rebels Announce Fragile Ceasefire

24/11/2012 RUDAW By WLADIMIR van WILGENBURG – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The People’s Defense Units (YPG) announced in a statement on Friday that they have reached a truce with the Syrian Islamist groups Jabhat al-Nusra and Ghuraba’ al-Sham after 3 days of fighting in Serêkaniyê.

“Today at 16.30 a ceasefire was declared in Serekaniye (Ras al-Ayn) after a request by armed groups and friendly groups. [The] Ceasefire was declared on our terms: Armed groups must leave and the creation of a Peoples Council from all ethnicities,” read the YPG statement.According to this statement, the truce is for is for 2 days. “If our terms are not met until then, we will continue to fight them,” read the statement.

The YPG is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and it controls the east and the northern parts of the city of Serêkaniyê, while the Syrian rebel factions control the south and the west as well as the Turkish border crossing.

YGP fighters have clashed with the Syrian rebels in the past several days. They want the rebel factions to leave the area.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Thursday there were renewed clashes between the YPG and the jihadist groups Jabhat al-Nusra and Ghuraba’ al-Sham that resulted in the death of 9 combatants, 8 from the Nusra front and 1 YPG fighter. On Wednesday, the YPG sources and the Kurdish news agency Firat News claimed that armed groups had brought 50 vehicles and seven tanks from the Turkish border to Serêkaniyê, igniting new confrontations. According to a PYD statement, reinforcements entered the city after negotiations to stop the fighting had failed. In two days of fighting that started last week, it is believed that at least 54 people have been killed.

“Everybody was shocked by the intervention of seven tanks and armored vehicles from the Turkish side of the border and started bombarding Kurdish villages and areas randomly in order to terrorize/ displace citizens,” PYD Executive Council said in a statement.

The SOHR reported earlier that 400 Kurdish fighters had come from across Syria on Wednesday to reinforce the YPG, while 200 members of the Nusra front came from Tal Abayd, and more than 100 fighters and 3 tanks commanded by Ghuraba’ al-Sham went into the city. On Thursday, the Ghuraba’ al-Sham battalion warned the PYD in a Youtube statement that was translated by Al Jazeera English, saying, “We warn all those who stand against the revolution. Mainly the PYD and the PKK from carrying out any counterrevolutionary act. They must withdraw from Ras al-Ayn and stay away from any confrontation with our fighters,”. But YPD leaders are adamant that the Syrian armed groups must leave the area. Also, the Friday ceasefire comes after an announcement by the YPG that their fighters had killed 25 Syrian rebels, wounding more than 20, and destroying 3 vehicles. The Syrian armed groups claim that they want to take over the oil-rich Hasakah province through Ras al-Ayn, but it is unlikely that the Kurdish political parties would allow them to enter these areas without a fight. On Nov. 21, the PYD leadership called on people “to adhere to their land, their homeland and defend the sanctities.”