Syria Media Roundup – May 20 to 26, 2019

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.

Release of Suspected ISIS Followers

On May 25, 2019, the PYD’s secret service, Asayiş, released eighty-five people, formerly accused of belonging to ISIS, in Deir ez-Zawr. The release was probably related to the intervention of tribal leaders (SMART News, ARK News).

On May 26, 2019, the PYD’s Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested and forcibly recruited fourteen young men in the villages of Al-Karamah and Hamad Assaf in the east of Ar‑Raqqah (SMART News).

Money Claims by Militias in ʿAfrin

As part of a series of so-called tax collections by armed factions, the Al-Amshat militia recently asked the owners of tractors in ʿAfrin to pay two-hundred and fifty-thousand Syrian pounds, about five-hundred US dollars. Some people in ʿAfrin are unable to pay the high taxes imposed by armed factions, wherefore some families are forced to flee their homes to another area (ARK News, May 21, 2019).

On May 22, 2019, the body of a civilian called Rashid Hamid Khalil was found in ʿAfrin. His body showed signs of heavy torture. Hamid Khalil, his nine-year-old son Mohammed Khalil, and a third person called Sharaf Al-Din Sido, were kidnapped by an armed group on their way to a hospital in Aʿzaz on May 13, 2019. Before the body was found, the kidnappers demanded one-hundred thousand US dollars for the release of the three people. Subsequently, a video was published, in which Al-Din Sido was shown with blood in his face and asking his family to pay the ransom. The whereabouts of Mohammed Khalil and Al-Din Sido are still unknown (ARK News).

In addition, twenty days ago the military police of the Syrian opposition in ʿAfrin kidnapped Djagerkwhin Ismail, a member of the local council of Jindiras; his whereabouts are also unknown (ARK News, May 25, 2019).

In an open letter, the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria called on the Syrian National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (Etilaf) to uphold their responsibility to work for the improvement of the situation in ʿAfrin. The Future Movement called for an assignment of international forces in ʿAfrin under the auspices of the United Nations (ARK News, SMART News, Rudaw).

Executions in As-Suwayda

On May 25, 2019, the Sheikh-Al-Karama militia executed three people. They were accused of having murdered a leader of the Al-Karama militia in the city of Salkhad in the south of As-Suwayda. According to a statement by the Al-Karama militia, the defendants had confessed to the murder (SMART News).