Members of Kurdish Self-Defense Forces (YPG) inside one of their improvised bases in Serekaniye. Dec. 31, 2012. In mid July, shortly after rebels struck in the Syrian capital with unprecedented attacks and a bomb blast that killed four of President Bashar Assad's top security aides, Syrian security forces began pulling back from several towns and villages across the border area, ceding defacto control to armed Kurdish fighters who have since set up checkpoints, hoisted Kurdish flags, and began exercising a degree of autonomy unheard of before
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