Syria Media Roundup – November 19 to 25, 2018

In this Media Roundup, we collect weekly local news from Syria, which is published mainly in Arabic and Kurdish media. Our aim is to make this news accessible to a broader readership. The sources come from news channels that we consider the most trustworthy, though we cannot guarantee absolute reliability. The focus is on areas where mainly ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities live, such as ʿAfrin, Al-Qamishli and As-Suwayda. The Media Roundup, as well as other articles about the situation of minorities in Syria, can also be found on our website Power Sharing for a united Syria in English, Arabic and German.

Tensions at Turkish-Syrian border

On November 19, 2018, dozens of civilians in Ash-Shaddadi, south of Hasakah, demonstrated against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of the PYD. The protesters criticized the SDF for injuring three civilians during an SDF military exercise near the village of al-Hana (SMART News). On November 23, 2018, around thirty young people protested against the SDF in the center of ar-Raqqah. After demonstrators had requested the SDF to leave the country, seven of them were arrested (SMART News).

On November 23, 2018, the Asayiş, the security service of the PYD’s Self-Administration, seized 135 barrels of diesel, which were loaded into cars near ar-Raqqah (SMART News). Also on November 23, the Self-Administration banned trading with wheat seeds in the city of al-Hasakah (SMART News).

In previous media roundups, the release of ISIS members by the PYD has been consistently reported. In this instance, November 24, 2018, 102 members of the ISIS terrorist organization were released from prisons of the Self-Administration, although some sources reported higher numbers (ARK News, Rudaw).

According to media accounts, there are considerations from the Turkish and American sides to apply the roadmap, which has been implemented in Manbij, to other parts of Syria as well. The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu underlined the importance of having expelled the PYD from Manbij (SMART News). On November 22, US Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis confirmed that the US military would install observation towers along the Turkish-Syrian border. The aim of this is to ease the tense situation between Turkey and the SDF (SMART News, ARK News).

Crimes against civilians in ʿAfrin

According to a press release on November 19, the al-Hamza faction committed numerous crimes against the civilian population last week. Fifteen people from the village of Hassan Dera in the suburb of Balbala were arrested. They are accused of having links to the PYD. Furthermore, the al-Hamza faction is setting up roadblocks, thereby preventing basic supplies of food from reaching the civilian population. An elderly man was arrested at the court of Balbala when he submitted a lawsuit against members of the al-Hamzat faction, who had stolen his olives (Rudaw).

On November 19, more crimes were committed in ʿAfrin. During a so-called security operation, shops were robbed and set on fire by militants of the Syrian National Army (SMART News). Furthermore, a motorcycle exploded in front of a building of the Military Police of the Free Syrian Army. Seven civilians were injured. Forces of the People’s Defense Units of the PYD took responsibility for this attack (SMART News).

Meeting between Baath secretary and local leaders in As-Suwayda

Last week a meeting took place between the Baath party’s secretary in as-Suwayda, Yasser al-Shoufi, and the community leaders of as-Suwayda. During the meeting, the community leaders reportedly rejected the Syrian regime’s demand to set up military checkpoints in as-Suwayda in search for members of terror groups (SMART News).