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.
Despotism of Armed Factions in ʿAfrin
On July 15, 2019, the Educational Commission of the local council in ʿAfrin’s sub-district Jindiras fired three Kurdish teachers due to their alleged PYD membership (ARK News, July 15, 2019). On July 18, 2019, the armed factions and the military police of the Syrian opposition in ʿAfrin kidnapped six people from the Shara sub-district. Their fate is still unknown (ARK News, July 20, 2019). There is also a report that armed factions stole crops and imposed new taxes on farmers in villages of Shara sub-district, (ARK News, July 24, 2019). In Rajo, another sub-district of ʿAfrin, the faction Ahrar al-Sharqiya forced displaced persons from other parts of Syria to pay fees so they could stay in houses that are actually owned by Kurdish families (SMART News, July 19, 2019).
Military Mobilization along the Syrian-Turkish Boarder
On July 19, 2019, SDF military units were moved from ʿAyn ʿIsa to Tall Abyad near the Turkish border (SMART News). According to a media report, SDF Commander Mazloum Abdi stated that the SDF did not seek military action with Turkey. However, if the Turkish army attacked an area east of the Euphrates, there would be great conflict. Abdi called for international support to conduct border patrols if the “safe zone” demanded by Turkey is established (Rudaw, July 20, 2019).
Ali Hego, co-chair of the Commission for Home Affairs, also said that an attack on the area under PYD control by Turkey would massively worsen the security situation in the region. He mentioned that it would then be difficult to control thousands of ISIS fighters currently in prisons (ARK News, 23 July 2019). According to Aldar Khalil, however, the zone should be five kilometers wide, guarded by international troops and exclude the Kurdish cities on the Syrian side (ARK News, July 24, 2019).
On July 20, 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested four youths at a checkpoint near the village of Hazima, north of Ar-Raqqah. The adolescents were subsequently forcibly recruited (SMART News).
According to Shahin Ahmed, chairman of the Kurdish party PDK-S (Member of the Kurdish National Council in Syria), meetings between the SDF and the Syrian regime are continued. Accordingly, these meetings are expected to negotiate the official return of areas currently under PYD control to the Syrian regime (ARK News, 21 July 2019).
Attack of Syrian Security Forces on Hospital in As-Suwayda
On 20 July, 2019, the administration of a public hospital in Salkhad, As-Suwayda province, evacuated many staffers and patients after the hospital had been attacked by a member of the security forces of the Syrian regime and a group of armed persons accompanying him. The armed group demolished equipment in the emergency room and maltreated the head of nursing after he had refused to hand out narcotics to them (SMART News).