Syria Media Roundup – July 8 to 14, 2019

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 ʿAfrin, Al-Qamishli and As-Suwayda

Delegation of the U.S.A met leaders of the SDC

Aldar Khalil, one of the PYD executives, again denied the detention of political prisoners by the PYD. He is thereby contradicting the statements of the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC). The KNC still demands the release of all political prisoners, in particular eight politicians and activists, as well as eight Kurdish officers, who, some years ago, left the Syrian regime’s armed forces and joined the opposition (ARK News, July 8, 2019).

A number of leading US envoys, including James Jeffrey, US Special Representative for Syria, William Rupak, US advisor of the International Alliance To Defeat ISIS, and Black Miran, Commander of the US Army in Syria and Iraq, met with the chairpersons of the Syrian Democratic Council’s Civil Council of Deir Ez-Zawr, Ghassan Al-Yousef and Laila al-Hassan. The meeting was also attended by a number of tribal leaders from the province of Deir Ez-Zawr. The talks focused on how to increase security in the province and how to rebuild the infrastructure. The meeting took place on the oil field “Omar”, east of Deir Ez-Zawr (SMART News, July 10, 2019).

On July 11, 2019, the Turkish army sent additional tanks and heavy artillery to Sanliurfa close to the Syrian-Turkish border (SMART News). In the night of 11–12 July 2019, forces of the International Coalition sent a military convoy of about two hundred trucks from Al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) to their military base Tell-Beydar, further west in the province of Al-Hasakah (SMART News).

Explosions in northern Syria

On July 11, 2019, bombings took place in several cities in northern Syria. In Al-Qamishli, a car bomb exploded in front of a church. Beside damages to buildings and cars, at least eight persons were injured (Rudaw, ARK News, SMART News). In Al-Hasakah, motorcycles exploded in four different places. One person was injured. The attacks, which recently became more frequent in areas under SDF control, are allegedly executed by ISIS members and shall target PYD and SDF members. However, victims of the attacks are predominantly civilians (SMART News).

Another bomb attack took place in ʿAfrin last week. The explosion of a car bomb killed eight civilians, four members of armed groups and one unidentified person. About thirty people were injured (Rudaw, ARK News, SMART News). The Wrath of Olives Operation Room, a group fighting against the Turkish occupation of ʿAfrin, took on responsibility for the attack (ARK News, 12 July 2019).

ʿThefts in Afrin

In addition to the attacks by Wrath of Olives, ʿAfrin continues to suffer from numerous thefts and the destruction of local infrastructure. Recently, more and more water pumps and irrigation equipment have been stolen. Members of the Sultan Murad Division also stole cables from landline phones in ʿAfrin’s sub-district Shara (ARK News, July 8, 2019). In Jindiras, the Al-Hamza faction issued a decree urging farmers to sell their crops below value to the faction (ARK News, 9 July 2019).

As-Suwayda

On July 8, 2019, strangers abducted two young men, on a road between the villages of Burajka and Al Mazraʿa. The reason for the kidnapping is unknown (SMART News). On July 10, 2019, unknown persons abducted a young man near the Al-Shahba gas station in As-Suwayda. So far, the background of this incidence is also unclear (SMART News).

On July 9, 2019, there was an armed conflict in the village of Rimat Hazm in the province of As-Suwayda. According to media reports, unknown persons attacked the group led by Safwan Salam Azzam, which is accused of having executed numerous kidnappings in As-Suwayda. Azzam and two other group members were injured. Following the attack, members of the Azzam gang surrounded the hospital where the injured persons were treated. Allegedly, they wanted to prevent the arrest or kidnapping of Azzam members. However, armed forces of the Syrian regime did not show up. (SMART News).