AMMAN - Seven al-Qaida-affiliated rebels were killed in a battle with a Syrian Kurdish militia on Wednesday, as violence between Syria's Arabs and Kurds increased, opposition activists said.
The fighting in Atma, a town on the Turkish border which is a main escape route for refugees fleeing the civil war, shows how the region has become a battleground for a myriad of armed groups in a scramble to grab territory, opposition sources said.
As well as the seven members of the the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant killed in fighting with the PYD, the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), two women PKK recruits were also killed by mortar fire on the outskirts of the nearby town of Jandaris, the sources said.
Since the start of the revolt, President Bashar Assad's forces have pulled out of Kurdish regions, including Ifrin, where Atma is located, handing de facto control to the PKK.
While fear is widespread among Kurds of a possible Islamist takeover if Assad falls, the PKK has come under criticism from other Kurdish groups for having ties with Assad's forces and has also been accused of killing peaceful Kurdish activists, charges the group denies.
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