Syrian planes bomb Kurdish-held city, militia and Observatory say

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[August 18, 2016]    BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian government warplanes bombed Kurdish-controlled areas of the city of Hasaka in northeastern Syria on Thursday for the first time in the five-year-old civil war, the spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and a monitoring group said.

 

YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said the air strikes had hit Kurdish districts of the city, which is mostly controlled by Kurdish groups, and the positions of a Kurdish security force known as the Asayish.

"There are martyrs and wounded," he told Reuters.

The Syrian military could not immediately be reached for comment.

The YPG controls wide areas of northeastern Syria, where Kurdish groups have established an autonomous government since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. The Syrian government still has footholds in the cities of Qamishli and Hasaka.

Tensions erupted between pro-government forces and Kurdish groups in Hasaka on Tuesday, leading to the most significant violence between the sides since several days of fighting in Qamishli in April.

Xelil said government forces were bombarding Kurdish districts of Hasaka with artillery, and there were fierce clashes in the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war using a network of activists, said warplanes had targeted Kurdish security forces' positions in the northwest and northeast of the city.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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