AMMAN - Islamist rebels have cut access to a Kurdish area in northern Syria and clashed with Kurdish nationalist PKK fighters whom they accuse of backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, sources on both sides said on Thursday.
The confrontation threatens to open a new front in Syria's 27-month-old civil war, in which Kurds, who form about 10 percent of the population, have so far played a limited role.
Fighting erupted overnight on the edge of Ifrin, a rugged, olive-growing area on the Turkish border, the sources said. Four people were killed, bringing to at least 30 the death toll from battles and assassinations in the last few days. Dozens more have been taken in tit-for-tat kidnappings, the sources said.
Tensions between Arabs and Kurds, whose relationship is riven by land disputes, especially in eastern Syria, have risen since the uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011.