Summary of Qamishlo and Hasakah clashes
After three days of fighting, on April 22nd a truce went into effect that, unlike the first one, stopped the fighting between NDF/ SAA and Asayish/ YPG in Qamishlo. Interestingly, reports have surfaced that this truce was negotiated with the help of Russian and Iranian mediators. Time to summarize what happened.
There are several concurring narratives how the fighting started and who is at fault. At this moment there can’t be anything said with certainty as to who is at fault. We refrain for now from these rumours and mutual accusations. But we can definitely say that underlying tensions about control and politics in Northern Syria play a role in these recurring clashes.
About 30-50 loyalist troops died in the fighting and at least 60 were taken prisoner. Asayish lost about 10 soldiers though no official figures have been put out. During the fighting SAA used artillery from Qamishlo airport striking civilian populated neighbourhoods. These strikes are the main culprit of about 20 dead civilians and dozens wounded. A minor part was caught in the crossfire. These are all Kurdish claims, loyalists have not submitted any numbers on killed or arrested people. Asayish in addition captured a bakery, Alya prison and besieged the Quamishlo airport. There have been reports that Al-Wusta district, which is held by loyalist Assyrian forces, has been captured by Kurdish troops, but there has been no confirmation on the ground and this remains to be seen.
According to loyalist sources, Republican guard units arrived at the airport shortly before the ceasefire. Kurdish sources confirmed that military planes landed at the airport, but made no claim about whom or what they brought. On April 22nd in the morning fighting also broke out in Hasakah, but with no apparent gains by either faction. These clashes didn’t take the proportions of the ones in Qamishlo. Hasakah too is included in the truce. Islamic State tried to use the chaotic situation as they launched a small attack on Al-Shaddadah, which was repelled by the YPG. Reportedly there also have been explosions somewhere west of Hasakah, but those couldn’t be verified independently.
On saturday afternoon (04/23) reports arrived that Syrian warplanes bombed the kurdish enclave Sheik Maksood in Aleppo. YPG officials confirmed the bombings. This can be seen as a threat made by loyalist forces. These bombings notably happened after the truce (in Qamishlo/ Hasakah) was signed and in effect. The last time Sheik Maksood was bombed by loyalist forces was two months ago, in the last weeks it also has been attacked with indiscriminate artillery fire by various opposition militas.
Update: At 19:30 (local time) Asayish remobilized their forces for a non-specified violation of the truce by NDF. According to local journalists YPG is positioned around Qamishlo and hostilities are possible. Currently there isn’t any info available if clashes restarted.
Photos of damage caused by regime bombs on Şêx Meqsud neighbourhood of Aleppo. pic.twitter.com/v3vpwpZIJj
— Dr Partizan (@DrPartizan_) 23. April 2016