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Kurds battle Assad's forces in Syria, opening new front in civil war

DIYARBAKIR - Syrian Kurds battled on Saturday with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, Kurdish sources and a monitoring group said, breaking a longstanding tacit agreement between the two sides to focus on other enemies in a complex civil war.
In Syria's predominantly Kurdish northeast, Assad's forces and Kurdish militia, mainly the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), have for the most part coexisted without clashing, focusing their firepower on the Islamic State insurgent group.
However, violence broke out when army soldiers and allied militiamen took control of buildings in an area that both sides had agreed would stay demilitarised, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
"There has been some serious fighting today. The PYD (the political wing of the YPG) arrested 10 soldiers and Baath party gunmen," Observatory head Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters.
"There is now fighting in many areas of Hassakeh."
The YPG and the government had divided Hassakeh into zones in a power sharing agreement, the Observatory said.
The army shelled three Kurdish-majority areas on the edges of Hassakeh city, and fighters from YPG clashed with Syrian forces inside the city throughout the day, the YPG said on its website



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