Syria Kurds expel jihadists from post, seize weapons

Syrian Kurdish fighters in the northeast of the country expelled jihadists from a checkpoint on Saturday and seized their weapons and ammunition, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The advance comes just days after Kurdish fighters loyal to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) expelled jihadists allied to the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) from the strategic Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain.

"Clashes raged during the night from Friday to Saturday, pitting (Kurdish fighters) against Al-Nusra Front, ISIS and other (rebel) groups... near the villages of Tal Alu, Karhuk and Ali Agha," said the Britain-based Observatory.

The clashes "ended at 8:00 am (0500 GMT), when the Kurdish popular committees seized control of a... (key) checkpoint" there, said the group.

The Kurdish fighters then seized ammunition, light weapons, a vehicle mounting a heavy machine gun and a mortar launcher from the jihadists, the Observatory added.

PYD chief Salih Muslim has stated that Syria's Kurds are planning to create a temporary autonomous government to administer their regions in the north.

Kurdish regions have been administered by local Kurdish councils since President Bashar al-Assad's forces withdrew from the areas in mid-2012.

The redeployment was seen as a tactical move by the regime, freeing up forces to battle rebels elsewhere, and encouraging the Kurds to avoid allying with the opposition in order to maintain their new-found autonomy.

Since then, the Kurds have walked a fine line, trying to avoid antagonising either the regime or the rebels, and focusing on maintaining security in Kurdish areas while strengthening control over their own affairs.

Kurds represent about 15 percent of the Syrian population.

Meanwhile in northwestern Syria, the air force kept up a fierce campaign against the town of Saraqeb and staged 10 air strikes there Saturday, said the Observatory.

The strikes on the rebel-held town in Idlib province caused the collapse of several homes and injured an unknown number of people, the group added.

Air raids also hit areas where the rebels were reportedly advancing in Aleppo province in northern Syria, it said.

Saturday's violence comes a day after at least 95 people were killed across Syria, said the Observatory.

More than 100,000 people, most of them civilians, have died in Syria's 28-month war, the group says.

ser/bpz