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.
Arrests by PYD
On April 16, 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces of the PYD arrested four young men at the so-called dam-checkpoint north of Ar-Raqqah. The men were then forcibly recruited (SMART News). On April 18, 2019, the SDF arrested and forcibly recruited fourteen young men in two villages east of ‘Ayn ‘Isa (SMART News). Eight young men were forcibly recruited for military service in Al-Tabqah, Ar-Raqqah province (SMART News, April 19, 2019).
The reintegration of former IS-members into society causes discontent among the residents of ‘Ain ‘Isa. In ‘Ain ‘Isa, former IS-members have recently been assigned as traffic policemen. The residents have complained that these former IS-members are now harassing the population, as well as illegally penalizing and fining civilians (The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, April 17, 2019, ARK News).
On the night of April 14, 2019, armed members of the Mezher family opened fire on forces of the Sheikh Al-Karamah militia in As-Suwayda. One member of the Al-Karamah forces was fatally injured (SMART News, April 15, 2019). According to media reports, members of the Mezher family also abducted a couple. The woman was released shortly after, while the man was taken to an unknown location (SMART News, April 16, 2019). According to further reports, the mayor of the city of Al-Qrayya, south of the city of As-Suwayda, was abducted by unknown persons. In addition, a young man was kidnapped near the town of Umm az-Zaytun in the north of As-Suwayda province. It is believed the kidnappers demand fifty million Syrian pounds for his release (SMART News, April 18, 2019).
Al-Hol Refugee Camp
Measles and other infectious diseases are spreading among children in the Al-Hol refugee camp. There is no hospital on-site to provide basic medical care, so infectious diseases are spreading rapidly in Al-Hol (Rudaw, April 18, 2019). Recently, seven children died as a result of catastrophic living conditions and insufficient medical provisions. The number of children who died between January and April 2019 now reached 260 (The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, April 20, 2019).
Kidnappings in ʿAfrin
About seven months ago, ten people from various villages in the area around Mabata in ʿAfrin were abducted. Now, Recently, the relatives of these people have publicly asked for help. The individuals come from different families and may have been kidnapped by various military groups due to their political engagement. However, the exact circumstances and reasons are unclear (Rudaw, April 17, 2019, ARK News, April 18, 2019). According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Al-Montasir Billah group, in particular, is often involved in abductions and ransom demands in the province of ʿAfrin (SOHR, April 20, 2019).