Internanional Security

Syrian government aircraft bombed Kurdish positions in the divided northeastern city of Hasakeh on Aug. 18, the first such strikes against a Kurdish-held area of Syria, an AFP correspondent reported.

The strikes hit three Kurdish-manned checkpoints and three Kurdish bases, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. They came after heavy clashes broke out on Aug. 17 between Kurdish fighters who control two-thirds of the city and pro-government militia who control the rest. The clashes have left 11 people dead – four civilians, four Kurdish fighters and three government loyalists, a medical source told AFP.

The Kurds, who control much of northeastern and northern Syria along the Turkish border where they have proclaimed a so-called  autonomous Kurdish region, recently demanded that the pro-government National Defense Forces disband in Hasakeh.

A government source in the city told AFP that the air strikes were “a message to the Kurds that they should stop this sort of demand that constitutes an affront to national sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, the U.N.’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, on Aug. 18 said ongoing fighting in besieged parts of the country had forced the organization to suspend its humanitarian aid convoys. De Mistura said convoys had been unable to reach parts of war-torn Syria for a month, especially Aleppo. “Tomorrow is World Humanitarian Day, but in Syria we witness conflict, attacks, barrel bombs, chlorine gas, air strikes and suicide attacks,” de Mistura told reporters in Geneva on Aug. 18.  He said a 48-hour cease-fire in Aleppo would be the main focus of the U.N. task force.

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