Sputnik’s Arabic edition quoted a source in the Syrian Army as denying reports that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were advancing in the Syrian city of al-Hasakah, located in the mainly Kurdish-held northeastern part of the country.The information came as the Syrian Army continues a military operation against the armed Kurdish groups after a ceasefire violation on August 16, when the YPG fired mortar mines at the government troops’ positions.
“The country’s Air Force planes continue to fly over al-Hasakah… no one can prevent our forces from conducting air operations,” the source said.
It denied previously published information that the US-led international coalitionallegedly does not allow the Syrian Air Force to make flights over al-Hasaka due to the presence of American military forces in the region.
Earlier, media outlets cited Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis as saying that the US military dispatched two F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets to intercept a pair of Syrian Su-24 warplanes that had flown in the vicinity of al-Hasakah.
Last week, regular Syrian troops launched a military operation in the eastern areas of al-Nashwa, in what was followed by the army’s advance on the district of Geweran. An army source said that the goal is to enter al-Nashwa’s western and eastern areas in order to move further towards the center of the city.For his part, al-Hasakah Mayor Muhammed Zaalan Al-Ali told Sputnik that Kurdish forces had allegedly blocked the al-Hasaka-al-Qamishli road, preventing the advance of the Syrian Army and its allies.
“We appreciate Kurdish forces’ help in the fight against terrorists last year, when 500 Kurdish soldiers were killed and 900 more wounded. But we wonder why the PKK [the Kurdistan Workers’ Party]has now turned their weapon against the Syrian Army and other government organizations, even though the country’s army previously supported the Kurds in their fight against armed terrorists,” he said.
The warring sides in al-Hasakah have reportedly not provided any official information about the number of casualties among the armed forces and civilians.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry has said that the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation at Hmeymim Airbase has registered a total of nine violations of the ceasefire agreement in Syria over the last 24 hours.
The Russia-US brokered ceasefire in Syria came into force on February 27. However, Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, and Daesh terrorist group (ISIL/ISIS), which have been condemned by Russia and throughout the world, are not part of the ceasefire deal. Kurdish forces were not invited to Switzerland to sign the official truce, but had not fought government forces, as both focused their efforts on thwarting Islamic extremists.
According to the Australian television network ABC, the fighting in Hasaka, which had been divided into zones of Kurdish and Syrian government control, “marks the most violent confrontation between the Kurdish YPG militia and Damascus in more than five years of civil war.”Many fear for the well-being of Arabs and other minorities in the Kurdish-dominated city. ABC reports that thousands of non-Kurds, including members of the Christian community, “have fled to villages in the countryside as the fighting intensified, residents said.”
Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting numerous opposition factions and radical Islamist groups, including Daesh.Russia conducted its anti-Daesh air campaign in Syria for six months, between September 2015 and March 2016 at the request of Damascus. Moscow started withdrawing aircraft and personnel from bases in Syria after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the goals of the campaign had been completed.