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Aleppo: Fighting between Free Syrian Army and PYD

KURDWATCH, November 5, 2012—On October 25, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) briefly captured large parts of the mainly Kurdish district of al‑Ashrafiyah in Aleppo from the Syrian regime and the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units [further information]. On October 26, conflicts arose between the FSA and the PYD's People's Defense Units. When a FSA friendly demonstration, organized by coordination groups and protected by the Salahuddin-al‑Aiyubi battalion, began in front of the Salahuddin mosque, the PYD organized a counter-demonstration. The People's Defense Units accompanied the demonstration. The demonstrators demanded the FSA's withdrawal from al‑Ashrafiyah. According to statements by an activist, as the demonstrations approached each other, the FSA fired into the air. The People's Protection Units responded by shooting into the crowd. According to the PYD, however, the FSA had immediately fired at the counter-demonstrators. Twelve people were allegedly killed, including seven members of the Salahuddin-al‑Aiyubi battalion. According to other reports, at least ten PYD supporters died—including many from the ranks of the demonstrators—as did fifteen members of the FSA Following the conflict, the PYD arrested several members of the FSA, prompting the FSA to stop around fifty minibuses near Haian on the road between Aleppo and ʿAfrin. Women and children were released, but approximately three hundred men were arbitrarily arrested. In negotiations with the PYD, the FSA declared that it would hand over the detainees on the condition that the PYD abandon its checkpoints in ʿAfrin and hand over the Suqur-al-Kurd battalion and the Yusuf-al-ʿAzmah battalion, which were founded in early October, to the FSA. Both battalions are comprised of Kurds from ʿAfrin. The PYD rejected this demand. On October 27, 2012, negotiations took place between the Kurdish National Council and the FSA, as a result of which, the detainees were released—the last of them on October 29.
In an interview with the website , Malik al‑Kurdi, Deputy Chairman of the FSA, described the advancement into al‑Ashrafiyah as a mistake and specified inner-Kurdish conflicts as the cause. According to al‑Kurdi, Kurdish groups within the FSA, first and foremost, the Salahuddin-al‑Aiyubi battalion, had pushed to end PYD control in several districts in Aleppo. In a press release, the leadership of the Salahuddin-al‑Aiyubi battalion contradicted al‑Kurdi's account and further explained that the FSA would not recognize the FSA leadership living in Turkey.

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