Truce in East Syria, Kurds Vow to Stop Islamist Expansion

Tense Calm in Ras al-Ayn as Tuesday Pact Holds

A truce between the PKK-linked United Democratic Party (PYD), a major Kurdish bloc, and Islamist Syrian rebels seems to be holding in the city of Ras al-Ayn, but neither side seems to be taking any chances, and both are holding captives from the recent weeks of fighting.

The PYD says they are determined to hold back the rebels, who they insisted were “al-Qaeda,” from taking any more land along that region of the Turkish border. The insisted separate deals had been made with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a secular rebel bloc, allowing them free passage through the area.

The Islamist rebels in question are reportedly mostly members of the al-Nusra Front, as well as allies from a faction called Ghroba al-Sham. The two groups have ruled out leaving the city.

At the same time, other Kurdish factions are pledging support for the PYD should the fighting resume. Even factions like the “Free Kurdish Army” which were determined to keep the region neutral in the civil war now say they feel obliged to back the PYD against any further rebel incursions into Kurdish territory.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.