An amateur video claims to show fighters from the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) clashing with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT, NO REPORTER NARRATION EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3 A video published on a social media website on Saturday (January 17) purported to show fighters from the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) clashing with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Reuters is unable to independently verify the content of this video, which was obtained from a social media website. The Syrian Kurdish fighters were seen crouching on the ground while firing from rifles during a heavy exchange of gunfire. Others were seen standing on the roof of what was said to be a local police station which the YPG fighters claimed to have taken from Assad forces. Kurdish sources and a monitoring group confirmed on Saturday that Syrian Kurds battled with forces loyal to Assad, breaking a long-standing 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 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. Syrian Kurds, who say they suffered years of marginalisation under Assad, had on occasion fought with the president's loyalists in territorial disputes, but never in sustained clashes. Damascus has promoted its ties with the Kurds, saying that it provides military support to Kurdish forces to help them battle Islamic State, although the PYD (the political wing of the YPG) denies that it cooperates with the central government. During the three-year war in Syria, Kurds have asserted control in parts of the northeast where their community predominates. Islamic State and other hardline groups consider Kurds heretics and have fought to take areas they control. Around 200,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, according to the United Nations.