Syrian army, Kurdish fighters reach new ceasefire in Hasakah


DAMASCUS, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Kurdish fighters and the Syrian army have reached a new ceasefire in the province of Hasakah, just days after a previous truce was shattered with intensified confrontation, Syria's national TV reported Tuesday.

The new ceasefire has supposedly gone into effect at 2 p.m. local time (1100 GMT) Tuesday, said the report, adding that several points have been agreed upon.

The Syrian forces and security apparatus as well as the Kurdish security force, called Assayish, will remain in their positions in Haskah, according to the deal.

The news agreement also includes opening all blocked routes in Hasakah city by the Kurdish fighters, who have mounted a wide-scale offensive recently to push the government out of Hasakah, a city that has largely become controlled by the Kurds.

The new truce also provides for exchanging prisoners and wounded people at 9 p.m. local time (1800 GMT).

Efforts will continue be made to resolve the Kurdish issue, said the report, adding that roads will be opened inside Hasakah and Qamishli city toward the military positions in and outside the city.

The ceasefire deal is the second to be reached in recent days, as the tension between the Kurds and the Syrian government has hit an unprecedented high.

A day earlier, state news agency SANA accused the Kurds of breaking a truce reached on Sunday, saying the Kurdish fighters attacked several government institutions.

A source in the city told Xinhua that the Kurds actually took control of several government positions, in their bid to shrink the government presence in that area to a small security zone.

The control in Hasakah has been divided between the government and the Kurds since 2012. The Kurds maintain a sort of autonomous rule in areas with heavy Kurdish presence.

The situation between both parties have been calm throughout the past years, but tension sparked when both the Assayish and a pro-government fighter group, called National Defense Forces (NDF) started arresting members of each other.

The incidents developed into intense battles recently.

The ceasefire deals have been mediated by Russia, reports said.

In previous bouts of tension between Syrian government forces and the Kurds, both parties had managed to contain the situation and avoid further confrontation.

At the time, there were reports about a tacit agreement between the Kurds and the Syrian government.

Buoyed by the support of the U.S.-led coalition, the powerful Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have made sweeping victories against the Islamic State (IS) group in key areas in northern Syria.

The Russians were said to have also backed the Kurdish fighters in their push against the IS, but no Kurdish group have admitted receiving such support from Russia.


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