Kurdish female members, foreground and background, of the Popular Protection Units stand guard at a check point near the northeastern city of Qamishli, Syria March 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
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Syria's Kurds have imposed compulsory military service for their men to help ward off a push by Islamist extremists in the predominantly Kurdish areas in northern Syria, Kurdish officials said Thursday.The move reflects rising anxiety among Syrian Kurds who fear the ongoing offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS) group in their region may potentially reverse gains made by their ethnic minority in the past three years. Amid the chaos of the civil war in Syria, the Kurds -- a long ostracized community -- have made unprecedented gains, carving out their own semi-autonomous territory in northern Syria as overstretched government troops abandoned the region to focus on defending Damascus, President Bashar Assad's seat of power. In November, the Syrian Kurds -- who had long tried to stay out of the fight -- declared their own civil administration in areas under their control, dividing it into the regions of Afrin, Kobani and Jazeera.
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