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.
Report on PYD Child Soldiers
On July 23, 2019, six civilians, including one child, were injured during the shelling of the city of Ceylanpınar in southeastern Turkey. The two rockets fired came from areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) (SMART News). On the same day, the Turkish military fired at seven targets in northeastern Syria in response to the former attack (SMART News, July 23, 2019). On July 28, 2019, the SDF reinforced its military sites on the Syrian-Turkish border in Tall Abyad near Ar-Raqqah (SMART News).
On July 25, 2019, the SDF arrested and forcibly recruited ten young men in Tall Abyad‘s Sluk district (SMART News). On July 28, 2019, the SDF forcibly recruited four more young men in the village of Al-Samra in eastern Ar-Raqqah province (SMART News).
The Secretary-General of the United Nations recently published the 2018 annual report on the situation of children in war zones. It also documents the situation of Syrian children. Thus, the YPG / YPJ People’s Defense Units recruited the most child soldiers in comparison to other factions in the Syrian civil war: The majority of the children were recruited and used by YPG / YPJ (313) operating under the umbrella of SDF, followed by Hayʿat Tahrir al-Sham” (UN General Secretary 2018: 26f.). The report further states that more than forty percent of the child soldiers recruited and deployed by the YPG / YPJ in 2018 were girls. Among these cases, there are twenty documented cases of girls under the age of fifteen. The absolute majority of underage female child soldiers were used for combat (see ibid.).
Attack in ʿAfrin by ‘Wrath of Olives’
Since the Turkish invasion of ʿAfrin, about 45,000 olive trees have been felled or burned. Olive products are the main agricultural products in ʿAfrin, and the damage to farms results in a lasting deterioration of both the economic situation of the owners and of ʿAfrin’s population. According to one activist in ʿAfrin, the burning and felling of olive trees is part of a systematic policy of changing the ethnic composition of the area (Rudaw, July 22, 2019).
There were also reports of kidnapping a doctor named Kamal Jaafar. Accordingly, Jaafar was abducted from his home by an armed group and his wife was requested to pay three thousand US dollars for his release (ARK News, July 25, 2019).
On July 28, 2019, a child was killed in a motorbike explosion in the city of ʿAfrin, another fifteen civilians were injured (SMART News). The militant group “Wrath of Olives” took responsibility for the explosion (ARK News, July 29, 2019). Wrath of Olives was founded in the summer of 2018 to fight against the Turkish occupation in ʿAfrin by executing bombings, kidnappings, etc.
Criticism of Syrian Regime by Al-Karama
In a public statement, the Sheikh al-Karamah forces in as-Suwayda have accused the Syrian regime of facilitating the entry of armed ISIS members into as-Suwayda. According to Al-Karamah, the regime wants to pressure the youth in As-Suwayda and encourage them to join the regime forces (SMART News, July 25, 2019).