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Syrian Jihadists Kidnap 200 Kurdish Civilians

An Al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria kidnapped around 200 Kurdish civilians after violent clashes with Kurdish fighters.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/1/2013, 6:12 AM

Syrian supporters of the Al-Nusra group
Syrian supporters of the Al-Nusra group
AFP photo

An Al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria kidnapped around 200 Kurdish civilians after violent clashes with Kurdish fighters in the country, a monitoring group said on Wednesday, according to Al Arabiya.

“Fighters of Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have seized control of Tall Aren village in Aleppo province and are laying siege to another village nearby, Tall Hassel. They have taken hostage around 200 civilians from the inhabitants of the two villages,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects data from medics and activists on the ground.

“They have taken hostage around 200 civilians from the inhabitants of the two villages,” said the Observatory.

The main Kurdish militia called on Tuesday for battling jihadists after a Kurdish leader was killed following weeks of clashes between the Kurds and radical Islamists.

“We call on the Kurdish people... to step forward... anyone fit to bear arms should join the ranks of the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) and to face the assaults of these [jihadist] armed groups,” said a YPG statement quoted by Al Arabiya.

Isa Huso, a well-known Kurdish politician, was killed near his place of residence in Qamishli.

“Despite our repeated calls to the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) command... to date these parties have failed to take a clear position” against the radicals, the YPG statement said.

It said it was clear that FSA battalions, Al-Nusra Front and ISIS in particular, were coordinating with jihadist groups, adding that these groups and the FSA “have become one side in attacking the Kurdish people.”

For more than a year, Syrian Kurds have been threatened by the Islamic extremists who long ago split from the more secular and so-called “moderate” National Syrian Council opposition forces.

Syria's long-oppressed Kurdish minority is now taking advantage of the Syrian civil war and is seeking to establish an autonomous region - free of Arab rule - similar to that in northern Iraq.

In addition to the war against President Bashar Al-Assad, over the past several weeks a second civil war has begun brewing in Syria, between the more moderate, Western-backed rebel groups and the Islamist extremist groups.

One of the jihadist groups, Al-Nusra Front, has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Members of Al-Nusra and other Syrian rebels groups have committed atrocities during the Syrian civil war, including publicly beheading a Catholic priest who was accused of collaborating with Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

In July, Syrian rebels linked to Al-Qaeda killed a senior figure in the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).