CEYLANPINAR - Syrian rebels fighting to oust President Bashar Assad clashed with armed Kurds near the Turkish border on Monday, the latest sign of an emerging power struggle in Syria's ethnically diverse northeast.
Exploiting the unraveling of Assad's grip in wide swathes of Syria, Kurds have been asserting control in parts of the northeast, bidding for the self-rule and rights denied to their community for decades under Assad and his father before him.
Some fear the increasingly sectarian tinge of the anti-Assad uprising will splinter Syria. But whoever takes charge in the Kurdish plains nudging against Turkey will control a chunk of Syria's estimated 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil reserves.
On Monday, gunfire clattered in the mixed Arab and Kurdish frontier town of Ras al-Ain, which was overrun by the mainly Sunni Muslim Arab rebels on Nov. 8 and bombed by Assad's forces in the days that followed.