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Raʾs al-ʿAyn: Free Syrian Army takes control

KURDWATCH, November 14, 2012—In the early morning of November 8, 2012, units of the Free Syrian Army's (FSA) Ghurabaʾ-al‑Sham battalion attacked Syrian Army positions in the city of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). The FSA's invasion occurred via the southern and western access roads. According to some sources, fighters also came across the Turkish border. The FSA conquered all positions and checkpoints belonging to the Syrian government, as well as the border crossing to Turkey and the headquarters of the Political Security Directorate and the Military Intelligence Service, where government security forces had barricaded themselves. Reliable information on the number of dead among the ranks of the FSA and the government are not available. Numerous civilians fled to Turkey and to the surrounding cities and towns. At least one civilian was killed; the person in question was Yazan al‑Khatib from Dair az‑Zaur. The Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG), which take a critical stance towards the FSA, initially reacted cautiously. Reports of possible cooperation between the YPG and the FSA could not be confirmed. On November 9, 2012, the Democratic Society Movement of West Kurdistan (TEV‑DEM), an umbrella association of PKK-affiliated organizations in Syria, called on all armed groups to leave the city. Otherwise, according to the TEV‑DEM's declaration, they would be treated as enemies. The Supreme Kurdish Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Kurdish Council and the People's Council of West Kurdistan, also called for the withdrawal of armed groups. They based this demand on the need to protect the people from government counterattacks.

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