Syria Spotlight: Jihadist Sources Describe Border-Region Fighting Between Kurds, ISIS Near Atmeh Village
On Saturday, we reported on the ongoing fighting between the Islamic State of Iraq and Ash Sham, Kurdish fighters and the Free Syrian Army in the mountainous region along the Turkish border.
The situation regarding state of the ongoing fighting, which involves clashes in several areas along the border but mostly around the village of Atmeh, is unclear. On Sunday, conflicting reports have emerged from Kurdish and pro-Jihadist sources about what is happening.
Jihadist sources on Sunday reported on developments in the fighting around the village of Atmeh, which has now entered its 10th day. The sources describe ISIS’s account — or partial account — of the fighting so far.
It is important to note that while jihadist sources refer to the Kurdish factions involved in the clashes as the Turkish PKK, while Kurdish sources say that it is the YPG that are involved.
According to FiSyria, a Russian-language pro-jihad website based in the Caucasus, which follows ISIS and also the Chechen-led Jaish Al Muhajireen Wal Ansar, reports that after a ceasefire, the PKK broke the truce and began fighting ISIS. The Kurdish fighters were entrenched on a hillside outside Atmeh, from where they took up positions and began to shoot at the road, where people — presumably ISIS fighters — were moving around. After this initial clash, ISIS decided to start attacking Kurdish positions. On the first day of the operation, ISIS managed to overrun three hills on both sides of Atmeh.
According to FiSyria, the number of Kurdish fighters killed in the battle is not known, but local Kurdish villages say that least 90 people died in the clashes. FiSyria says that 12 ISIS fighters have been killed.
A week later, ISIS attacked the Kurds again, taking another hill. ISIS also took ten people, including three women, prisoners. FiSyria said that the Kurdish snipers are mostly women. In the fighting, four Kurdish fighters were killed and three ISIS fighters were wounded.
FiSyria provides the following photograph, showing the positions of ISIS and the Kurdish fighters (for non-Russian speakers, the Kurdish factions are marked in red and the ISIS factions in green).
FSA Helping Broker A Truce?
Meanwhile, the pro-Kurdish PUK media reports that the Free Syrian Army is leading negotiations between the two sides are ongoing in an attempt to broker another ceasefire.
According to PUK Media, several Free Army leaders in Aleppo are trying to reach an agreement between the ISIS and the YPG and to end the clashes around Efrin and Atmeh.
A YPG negotiator told PUK that under the terms of the truce, ISIS fighters are to withdraw from the hills between Atmeh and Jindires and will cede them to FSA, while the YPG forces will retreat to Kurdish areas around Jindires.