In this Media Roundup, we collect local news from Syria, which is published mainly in Arabic and Kurdish media, weekly. 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 ‘Afrin, Al-Qamishli and As-Suwayda.
Developments in Areas under PYD Control
On June 2, 2019, the PYD’s Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested fourteen young men in Ar-Raqqah and forcefully recruited them (SMART News). Al-Monitor reports protests against the ongoing wave of arrests and forced recruitment of young men. According to Al-Monitor, the SDF’s action is directed against members of all ethnic groups and takes place both in cities and in rural areas. In Ar-Raqqah and Dair Ez-Zawr, however, the protest of the Arab population against forced recruitment is particularly strong (Al-Monitor, May 28, 2019).
The YPG forces belonging to the SDF bombed a position of the Turkish army near the city of Tall Rif’at on June 9, 2019. During the attack, one Turkish soldier was killed and seven others injured (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights).
According to media reports, two American women and six children from ISIS families were handed over from PYD Self-Administration to US authorities (SMART News, Rudaw, June 5, 2019). As a first step of an agreement with tribal leaders, the Self-Administration also began to relocate eight hundred women, children and elderly from the Al-Hol refugee camp in Al-Hasakah province to their areas of origin in Ar-Raqqah and Al-Tabqah (Rudaw, SMART News, June 4, 2019).
On June 7, 2019, several families of persons who were abducted by ISIS in recent years demonstrated in ‘Ayn Al-Arab (Kobanî). The demonstrators called on the officials to inform them about the fate of their relatives (Rudaw).
Fires and kidnappings in ‘Afrin
Once again, armed factions in ‘Afrin set fire to a wooded area. This time, the area around Mount Hawar was affected, an area near the city of Şiyê at the Syrian-Turkish border (Rudaw, June 4, 2019, ARK News, June 8, 2019). In addition, on May 31, 2019, an armed faction abducted a cattle ranger in Jindiras, a sub-district of ‘Afrin. On May 11, a group abducted a teacher and demanded fifteen million Syrian pounds for his release (ARK News, June 3, 2019). Near the checkpoint of an armed group near the Mobata junction on the Rajo Road in ‘Afrin, armed men killed two civilians (Syriahr, ARK News, SMART News, June 8, 2019). On June 9, 2019, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the kidnapping of a civilian in ‘Afrin city. The Hamza Division raised ransom demands for the release of the person (Syriahr).
Nineteen Kidnappings in As-Suwayda in May
The security situation in As-Suwayda remains unstable. Many cases of killings, kidnappings and robberies have been reported. In May 2019 alone, nineteen civilians were abducted, including four minors, according to a report by Suwayda24. For most cases of kidnappings with ransom demands unknown gangs are blamed. In some cases, local armed factions or family clans are believed to carry out kidnappings (Suwayda 24).