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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Islamists take over Syria border post with Turkey; Kurds take control of their lands

Just great:
Rebel forces gained control of the Bab al-Hawa crossing between Syria and Turkey on Thursday.

But by Saturday evening, a group of some 150 foreign fighters calling themselves as Islamists were in control of the Bab al-Hawa post, an AFP photographer said.

Some of the fighters said they belonged to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), while others claimed allegiance to a group called Shura Taliban.

They were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket launchers and improvised mines.

The fighters identified themselves as coming from a number of countries: Algeria, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and the Russian republic of Chechnya.
But there is some better news, as the Kurds are asserting control of their lands in Syria:
On the second day of events in Syrian Kurdistan, several more cities have fallen into the hands of Kurdish groups.

Fawzi Shangal, the leader of the Kurdish Accord Party in Syria told Rudaw that the city of Amude and Efrin fell on Friday and they expect Derek city liberated within hours.

Shangal maintained that the Kurdish cities fell without any major clashes. The forces of the Assad regime withdrew from the area, he said.

“According to the Erbil agreement [signed between Syrian Kurdish political factions] On June 11, the Kurdish National Council and the Council of Western Kurdistan have formed a joint leadership to run those cities,” he said.

Members of the Democratic Union Party [PYD] raised the Kurdish flag alongside the official flag of the Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK] on all government buildings in the newly liberated cities on Friday.

Kobane, in the province of Halab [Aleppo], was the first Kurdish city near the Turkish border to be liberated yesterday.

On Thursday PYD stopped soldiers of the Free Syrian Army [FSA] from entering Kobane as the news of the liberation reached other parts of the country.

“The Kurdish forces rejected a request by the FSA and told them that they [Kurds] can control their own areas,” Hussein Kochar, a PYD official told Rudaw.

Kurdish leaders are preparing for the full liberation of Syrian Kurdistan and the responsibility of restoring peace and order in those cities.
And another city was liberated from Assad's troops this morning in Syrian Kurdistan.

The biggest wild card in Syria is still Assad's chemical weapons.

(h/t Yoel)