Syrian Rebels Release 120 Kurds Captured During Clashes in Aleppo

05/11/2012 RUDAW –  By ADIB ABDULMAJID – AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has released a number of Kurdish fighters captured during clashes in Aleppo last week. The majority of the fighters were members of the Democratic Union Party’s armed wind known as (YPG).It was reported that the Kurds detained by the FSA exceeded 200. However, 120 of them were released on Monday.

About 30 Kurds were killed in clashes with FSA rebels in the Kurdish neighbourhood of Alashrafiye in Aleppo. 17 FSA fighters were reportedly killed in the confrontations.

An FSA leader told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the clashes occurred due to a “misunderstanding between the two sides.” But Kurdish activists considered the recent clashes in Alashrafiye and in the suburbs of the Kurdish town of Efrin as the result of FSA’s violation of an agreement signed between both sides. These confrontations have worried Kurds in Syria who have so far escaped much of the violence caused by the anti-Assad revolution. A member of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) told Asharq al-Awsat on Tuesday that there was an agreement between his party and the FSA leadership to not enter the Kurdish areas under any circumstances, “because that will definitely give the regime’s forces the right to pursue them and will lead to massacres in these areas.”

“Our main goal is to protect our areas and our people against any potential danger, and, as known by now to all the Syrians, the presence of the FSA fighters in any region causes damage to the entire neighbourhood and results in large numbers of victims from the attacks of the forces of the dictatorial regime of Assad,” the leader said. The PYD leader said that the regime forced started shelling the Kurdish neighborhood of Aleppo as soon as the FSA fighters had entered the area.

“As the FSA rebels entered Alashrafiye neighborhood in Aleppo, the pro-Assad air force started to shell the area; the fact which led the Kurdish residents to take to the street and protest peacefully against the FSA presence there. But the rebels responded to the protest by shooting the civilians and killing 10 of them and wounding dozens.”

Sherzad Yezidi, member of the PYD, told Asharq al-Alawsat that a group of FSA’s fighters have already taken more than 300 Kurds hostage.

“They tried to use the Kurdish hostages to put pressures on the Kurds in Syria, the same plan as that of the regime, to drag the Kurdish people to get involved in the ongoing conflict,” Yezidi said. “Since the start of the revolution, we declared that we are a partner in accomplishing the demanded change in Syria, but we have also clarified that we will never participate in the armed conflict against the regime, and that we will preserve our peaceful movement to not give any reason to the Assad forces to launch a crackdown against our areas.”

Yezidi maintained that the FSA didn’t have any reasons to enter the Kurdish areas and clash with its residents. “This attack by the FSA forces against our areas could be a clear message to the Kurds, and a sample for the dark future awaiting the Kurdish people in Syria,” he concluded. On the other hand, following the release of 120 Kurdish hostages the FSA issued a statement, claiming that the clashes took place due to a misunderstanding between their forces in Aleppo and the Kurdish factions. The FSA statement blamed the incident on the Syrian regime. “Kurds are our brothers and partners in the country, and we should prevent such confrontations from occurring, because that is in favor of the regime; our mutual enemy,” the statement read.