Syria Media Roundup – March 4 to 10, 2019

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.

Arrests in Ar-Raqqah

On March 6, 2019, the so-called Internal Security Service arrested eight people in the center of Ar-Raqqah and a woman at the roundabout Eddikhar. The reasons for the arrests were not communicated to the arrested persons and their relatives (SMART News). According to media reports, on March 8 four young men from the village of Hawi Al-Hawa, west of Ar-Raqqah, were arrested and forcibly recruited (SMART News).

On March 5, members of the PYD kidnapped Junaid Sayed Majid, a member of the Kurdish Democratic Party – Syria (PDK-S). The PDK-S is a member party of the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC). Majid was beaten by the kidnappers and deposed on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan in physically bad conditions (ARK News).

On March 5, the Turkish army shelled YPG positions near Tall Rif’at (SMART News).

Release of ISIS-Members

According to a media report of March 4, members of the PYD released more than one hundred captive ISIS-members in the city Al-Suwar in Deir ez-Zawr. According to ARK News leaders of the tribes Al-Akeidat and Al-Baggara were involved in the negotiations on the release (ARK News). According to a Kurdistan24 report, the PYD’s Self-Administration and tribal leaders have agreed on coordinating the release of ISIS-members (Kurdistan24, March 4, 2019). In addition, thirty prisoners from Ar-Raqqah and Al-Tabqah were released at the request of tribal leaders. The released person had also been accused of belonging to the terrorist organization (ARK News, March 5, 2019).

Agreement between SDF and ISIS-Members

Around one-hundred-fifty ISIS-members and one-thousand ISIS-family members left the town Al-Baghouz following an agreement between ISIS-members and the SDF (SMART News, March 4, 2019). After an additional agreement on March 5, 2019, four-hundred ISIS-members capitulated in Al-Baghouz and one-thousand five-hundred ISIS-family members left the city (SMART News). On March 6, about six-hundred more left Al-Baghouz, including one hundred ISIS-members (SMART News). 

On March 8 and 9, approximately one-thousand-five-hundred Iraqis, two-thousand-three-hundred Syrians, and one-thousand-eight-hundred persons of other nationalities arrived at the Al-Hol refugee camp (SMART News). On March 6, women demonstrated there for the improvement of their severe living conditions (ARK News).

Explosion in ʿAfrin

On March 5, a terror attack in ʿAfrin took place. The explosion in front of a store injured a young man and a 14-year-old boy. So far, nobody took responsibility for the attack (SMART News).

On March 10, 2019, the oppositional Syrian Interim Government opened in ʿAfrin a registration center for Palestinian refugees from other parts of Syria. According the report thousands of Palestinians have fled to ʿAfrin from war actions south of Damascus (SMART News). In recent months, there have been repeated reports of a demographic restructuring from a Kurdish to an Arab majority of the population in ʿAfrin. The registration center could be part of this strategy.