Fresh fighting has broken out between Kurdish fighters and al-Qaida-linked rebels in northern Syria, where clashes between the two sides have forced tens of thousands of people to flee into neighboring Iraq.
The Kurds became the first anti-government group to have actively taken on the jihadists, inflicting high casualties on fighters of two al-Qaeda affiliated groups, the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the battles Tuesday happened in several villages near the town of Ras al-Ayn. The area is next to the Turkish border in the northeastern corner of Syria that is home to many of the country\’s Kurds.
The United Nations refugee agency estimates 30,000 Syrians, most of them Kurds, have crossed into Iraq\’s Kurdistan region since last week. It expects several thousand more will move into Iraq on Tuesday.
Nearly 2 million refugees have fled Syria, with the majority going to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
In 2004, dozens of Kurdish activists were killed during a riot in the north-eastern city of Qamishli.
The conflict in Syria began as an uprising against Assad\’s rule in March 2011, and later developed into a civil war, leaving more than 100,000 people dead.