In this Media Roundup, we collect weekly local news from Syria, which are published mainly in Arabic and Kurdish media. Our aim is to make these 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.
Developments at the Turkish-Syrian border
On November 26, another military convoy of the International Coalition reached the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The convoy consisted of more than hundred vehicles with military equipment and oil tankers (SMART News). On November 27, armed forces of the US-led International Coalition built up the first observation towers on the Syrian-Turkish border near the city of Tall Abyad which is close to Raqqah. The International Coalition had announced to install them to counteract further escalation between the Turkish army and PYD forces (SMART News, The Syrian Observer). On November 27, SMART News reported on a meeting between the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia, the US-led International Coalition, and members of the SDF. The meeting, which is said to have taken place in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), was about the future of the East Euphrates region. The SDF and the PYD’s Self-Administration denied the implementation of the meeting (SMART News).
On November 28, tribal leaders in Manbij publicly criticized the increased forcible recruitment of civilians by the SDF (SMART News). On the same day, the SDF sent three hundred fighters of the so-called Manbij Military Council (MMC) and the Revolutionary Army into eastern Syria to Deir ez-Zawr to fight ISIS (SMART News). According to media reports, forces of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the PYD installed explosive bodies and mines in streets and private homes in Ra’s al-‘Ayn (Serê Kaniyê). There were similar reports prior to the invasion of the Turkish army and the withdrawal of the YPG from ʿAfrin (ARK News).
On December 1, thirty trucks loaded with diesel crossed the border between the SDF-controlled province of Raqqah and the province of Homs, which is under the control of the Syrian regime (SMART News).
Violent Crimes in ʿAfrin
According to media reports from November 26, crimes committed by Syrian armed groups in ʿAfrin are continuing. In the last few days a teenager was killed and three people were kidnapped. In addition, different factions stole numerous cars and large quantities of olive oil. Telephone and electricity lines were set on fire (Rudaw). On November 27, several armed groups in ʿAfrin began to replace Kurdish village names with Arabic and Turkish names. On November 28, some groups destroyed about thirty thousand olive trees in the Balbala area. Farmers have to hand over a large part of their harvest to armed groups. Meanwhile, forty families in Balbala were allowed to return to their homes. About six hundred families from other parts of Syria have been settled in the area so far (Rudaw).
Abductions in As-Suwayda
On November 30, armed men abducted a young man in As-Suwayda and demanded a ransom of one million Syrian pounds from his family (Suwayda24). On December 2, a group of gunmen attacked the home of another kidnapped person in As-Suwayda. The raid took place ten days after the kidnapping, after the family had refused to pay the ransom (Suwayda24).