As Syria’s Rebels Gain in North, Battle With Kurds Heats Up

Rebel Victory Could Set Stage for Another Major War in Syria

The Syrian rebels’ progress in the ongoing civil war has often been overstated by Western officials predicting imminent victory. Still, the groups are taking more territory in the north, and as their hold in that region strengthens, the face of the battle is starting to change.

Skirmishes with Kurdish factions in Ras al-Ayn have been ongoing for weeks, but as the rebels’ hold on the north looks at least semi-permanent, the Kurds are more resigned to having to confront them sooner, rather than later.

The rebels’ rhetoric varies from group to group, but the commonality is Sunni Arab nationalism, a sentiment which has alienated Kurdish factions initially hoping to see more autonomy, and now likely to see much less in the event the rebels win the war.

Staying neutral in the war has been goal for many Kurdish groups, but has proven impossible as the fighting moves into their oil-rich lands. With the Syrian military more or less ceding those lands to the rebels to focus on defending the area around the capital, the rebels are finding in the Kurds new enemies, and a major war that they will likely have to deal with even if they manage to defeat the Assad government.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.