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In Syria, Kurds Carve Out Territory of Their Own

Syrian Kurds have quietly taken control of sizeable chunks of territory in the northeast of the country, reports Josh Wood. With the state gone, they are organizing for self-governance — but conflict may be coming. While Free Syrian Army flags wave at some protests, many Kurds strongly distrust the opposition forces.
Demonstrators hold Kurdish flags during a protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Al-Hasakah July 20, 2012. Picture taken July 20, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout   (SYRIA  - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

DEREK, Syria — The civil servants and security officers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government have not totally abandoned this town of 60,000 in the northeastern extremities of the country, but they might as well have.

On Sept. 27, protesters waving the flags of Iraqi Kurdistan and the Free Syrian Army marched toward the headquarters of the secret police, the once-feared mukhabarat. As they neared the building, the language of their chants switched from their native Kurdish to Arabic to echo the refrain heard across the Middle East for more than 21 months now: “The people want to overthrow the regime.” The enforcers of the Damascus regime stared out at the crowds from behind the worn metal grates of the structure’s windows, powerless.

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