When regime forces withdrew from Kurdish areas in northeastern Syria in July, they were quickly replaced by Kurdish fighters from PYD. Those forces then battled rebel fighters after they pushed their way into predominantly Kurdish areas. The Kurdish group is affiliated with the PKK, rebels fighting for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast region of Turkey.
The Islamic militants, who are fighting on the side of the rebels, have played a bigger role in the Syrian conflict in recent months and many openly say they want to set up an Islamic state. The opposition is split, with some groups strongly opposed to the influence of extremists.
The Observatory also said that the health of leading opposition figure Abdul-Aziz al-Kheir, who it said is being held by one of the country’s security agencies, has deteriorated recently. It did not disclose details of his health problems.
The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria accused the regime of being behind the disappearance of two of its leaders, including al-Kheir, shortly after they arrived home from China in September.
Al-Kheir, 61, comes from Assad’s hometown of Kardaha and belongs to the president’s ruling Alawite minority sect. He spent long periods in jail in the past because of his opposition to the regime.
Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser contributed to this report from Ankara, Turkey.