On the night of April 21, armed clashes broke out in Al-Hasakah Governorate's second-largest city of Qamishli between the Kurdish local self-defense units and those representing the Syrian government forces. During the fight, the sides doubled down on all the types of small arms: rocket-propelled grenade launchers, heavy-gauge machine guns and grenades. Preliminary figures indicate the loss of three people on each side.
According to independent observers, an internal security forces unit attempted to enter city downtown controlled by the Kurdish formations, but came under their small-arms fire. By the morning of April 21, local Kurdish formations, assisted by incomer units of pro-American Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) almost completely ousted the units of government internal security forces from Qamishli and established control over the uptown civilian airport. However, small groups of government-controlled military kept up resistance, having failed to retreat from a number of urban quarters.
It bears mentioning that before the events of 2011, the population of Qamishli accounted for about 200 thousand, mainly comprising Syrian Arabs and Kurds. Peaceful coexistence let people actively engage in agriculture and trade, while the city itself could be reckoned a poster child for efficient housekeeping and courteous attitude to foreigners.
Separately, soldiers of the government internal security forces were able to visit the Kurdish-controlled areas rather freely, despite the tacit city division into zones of influence. Either did the Kurdish fighters enter the "hostile turf" to visit their relatives.
It would seem that the clashes came out of the blue for no apparent reason. At that, several days after the incident began, the Kurdish side nailed colors to the mast and disagreed to the ceasefire proposed by the Syrian officers having arrived from Damascus. Tension was reduced only after an urgent request by sheikhs of local Arab tribes for the intervention of Russian military police stationed at an airfield outside Qamishli.
Through the Russian mediation, an agreement was reached stipulating an obligation with the aggrieved parties to ensure public safety, regardless of ethnicity. But the Kurds failed to agree with all the proposals and guarantees of the Russian military.
A series of negotiations has taken place and continues at the Russian airfield. SDF command representatives, in coordination with the local city authorities, including the Kurds, are invited to permanently cease fire, withdraw their armed detachments from greater Qamishli and hand over control to the government security forces (police). The Russian military police will keep the city safe, arranging round-the-clock patrols, interaction with the police and public authorities, as well as deploying several checkpoints and a communication center.
The SDF leadership declares readiness to leave the city, but adamantly refuses to yield control over the civilian airport and its infrastructure, including the runway.
The recent events and the situation of April 26 indicate that pro-American Kurdish forces are scheming acts of provocation reasonably in advance, aiming to cause a marked aggravation in the Qamishli area.
Several facts speak for this.
First, strong pro-American Kurdish detachments appeared in the city and got involved in active hostilities right away in the truest sense of the word. Whereas they should stay at a distance of 32 km from the border with Turkey, as previously agreed with Russia.
Secondly, on the morning of April 21, there was an official statement by the SDF command about their comprehensive support to the local detachments, with an address by US Armed Forces command representing the "western coalition" having immediately followed to express determination to back their Kurdish allies.
Third, the Kurds agree to all the Russian-proposed demands, except for the Qamishli airport liberation. That is, they are resolved to flagrantly break the Russian-Turkish agreements.
And one last thing. Syrian opposition representatives got actively involved in supporting the SDF (US) stance. Chairman of the Future Syria anti-government party Ibrahim al-Qaftan, said Bashar al-Assad's regime seeks to shift responsibility for the economic crisis on to this region and blame the local administration for this.
All of this makes us think that the ultimate goal is an attempt to disrupt the population's engagement in the upcoming May 26 Syrian presidential election. And Washington can be clearly discerned behind the accomplished provocation.