Kurdish fighters seize Syrian border post from Islamists

Reuters

* Peace envoy wants Iran at peace talks

* Ten killed in Lebanon's Tripoli

* Forty dead in bomb in Damascus province

BEIRUT, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Kurdish militants seized a Syrianborder post on the frontier with Iraq early on Saturday,fighters and monitors said, after three days of clashes with anal Qaeda-linked group which had held the crossing since March.

The armed Kurdish group YPG told Reuters fighting carried onthrough the day and a senior security official on the Iraqi sideof the crossing said he could hear gunshots, mortar fire andshelling.

The Yarubiya post and surrounding areas in the northeastwere taken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant rebelgroup, who had seized it from the army, The Syrian Observatoryfor Human Rights said.

Ethnic Kurds in Syria have a complex role in nearly threeyears of conflict that started when President Bashar al-Assadcracked down on a pro-democracy uprising.

The ensuing civil war has pitted Sunni Muslims againstAssad's Alawite minority and different Kurdish militia havefought on both sides, normally over territory or power disputes.

Kurdish YPG spokesman Redur Xelil told Reuters Kurdish areasin Syria were blockaded by Islamist groups on one side, Turkishforces on the other and the closed border with Iraqi Kurdistan.But he said it was "too soon to talk about using the crossing".

International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Saturdaypeace talks in Geneva next month should be attended by Assad'sally Iran.

Shi'ite Iran has strongly supported Assad, whose Alawitefaith is an offshoot of Shi'ism, while Saudi Arabia, other GulfArab states and the United States support the rebels.

"We believe that the participation of Iran in the Genevaconference is natural and necessary as well as fruitful, so weare hopeful that this invitation is made," Lakhdar Brahimi tolda news conference in Tehran, according to Press TV, whichtranslated his live remarks into English.

The U.S. State Department said on Oct. 7 that Washingtonwould be open to Iran taking part in a "Geneva 2" conference ifit supported the "Geneva 1" 2012 statement calling for atransitional authority to rule Syria. Iran said it was"unacceptable to set conditions" on its attendance.

LEBANON CLASHES

The Syrian war has caused two million to flee intoneighbouring countries and exacerbated regional sectariandivides.

At least 10 people were killed in street battles betweenSunni and Alawite militants in the Lebanese city of Tripoli onFriday and Saturday.

In Syria, 40 people died when a car bomb exploded outside amosque in Wadi Barada in Damascus province on Friday, said theanti-Assad Observatory, which verifies reports through a networkof sources around Syria.

State news agency SANA said many "terrorists" - a term ituses for those fighting Assad - were killed in the explosion andquoted a witness who said the mosque's two entrances collapsedwhen the bomber struck before the end of Friday prayers.

State TV said on Friday Abu Mohammad al-Golani, leader ofJabhat al-Nusra, a rebel group that has claimed responsibilityfor several suicide bombings, had been killed.

Fighters from the Islamist group told Reuters Golani wasalive.

The Syrian conflict has killed more than 100,000 people,according to the United Nations.

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