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Kurdish militias end siege of Syrian base after Russian intervention

Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) military police members demonstrate with their flags and others bearing the portrait of Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan in the Kurdish town of Al-Muabbadah in the northeastern part of Hassakah province on 24 February 2018 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images]
Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) military police in Syria on 24 February 2018 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images]

The Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) militia has ended its three-day siege of a military base in the regime-held town of Qamishli in Syria following Russian intervention, Anadolu has reported.

Russian commanders in the region held a meeting with representatives from both the YPG and the regime forces on Wednesday night. As a result, both sides agreed to release their respective captives and the YPG lifted the siege.

The YPG surrounded the base after tension between the militia and the regime and its ally Russia. They have been putting pressure on the militia to withdraw from the north-eastern town of Ain Issa over the past few weeks.

The tension peaked on 28 December when the YPG captured regime troops, including senior officers. The regime forces retaliated by capturing YPG militants in Ain Issa.

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The Russian intervention came after Moscow redeployed a significant number of its troops in Syria to Qamishli throughout December. Hundreds of armoured vehicles were moved from Hmeimim Air Base in the western province of Latakia.

Over the past month, Ain Issa has been a point of conflict not just between the regime and the Kurdish militias, but also with Turkey and the factions it backs, such as the Syrian National Army (SNA). In December, the Turkish-backed fighters tried unsuccessfully to gain control of the town and were supported by Turkish strikes on Kurdish militia positions.

There have been a number of clashes and agreements in the area, but the Kurdish militias have resisted President Bashar Al-Assad's efforts to bring the Kurdish areas under state control. Russia has been a key mediator.

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