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.
Military Armament at Turkish-Syrian Border
On August 6, 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of the PYD arrested and deported eight young persons at a checkpoint in Ar-Raqqah province (SMART News).
Between August 4 and 6, 2019, the international coalition sent two military convoys to Al-Hasakah province. The first convoy consisted of three hundred trucks, the second of two hundred trucks (SMART News, Rudaw August 6, 2019). During the night of August 9 to 10, a third military convoy with around two hundred trucks allegedly headed towards SDF-controlled areas around Aleppo and Ar-Raqqah (SMART News, 10 August 2019).
Simultaneously with Turkish threats to launch a military operation in northeastern Syria, Turkish military convoys reached the Turkish-Syrian border near ʿAin Al-ʿArab (Kobanî) on August 6, 2019 (ARK News, 7 August 2019). On August 9, 2019, the Turkish army sent fifteen trucks to the Syrian-Turkish border near Tall Abyad (Rudaw, SMART News). One day later, the SDF relocated military units from ʿAyn ʿIsa in Ar-Raqqah Province to Ras al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), Al-Hasakah Province (SMART News, 7 August 2019).
Also on August 7, 2019, the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced a joint decision with the US to implement immediate measures to address security concerns at the Syrian-Turkish border. In addition, the establishment of a joint operation center in Turkey was announced, where the establishment of the planned security zone should be coordinated. Turkish spokespersons also announced that the security zone should serve as a “peace corridor” for the return of Syrian refugees (SMART News, Anadolu Agency, August 7, 2019).
Expulsions in ʿAfrin
Various factions in ʿAfrin are displacing civilians from their homes. Incidents of the Levant Front were reported on August 5, 2019. A civilian living in the Maabatli district was expelled from his home. As a reason for the action, the armed faction stated that his already deceased father was registered as the owner of the house, but not the man himself. Another person was expelled because the house she lived in allegedly belonged to the PYD (ARK News). In addition, armed groups in Jindiras, a sub-district of ʿAfrin, called village chiefs, so-called Mukhtars, to register land and olive farms of Kurdish citizens expelled from ʿAfrin to the Shahba area north of Aleppo. It is believed that the goal of the registration is to confiscate property and distribute it among the resettled Arab population (ARK News, August 10, 2019).
In a report dated August 10, 2019, Rudaw reports the killing of fifty people, including six children, by armed factions. Four of those killed allegedly died in July 2019 as a result of torture. Another one hundred and thirty people allegedly were arrested or abducted by armed factions, whereby twenty families were asked to pay ransom for the release of their family members. Rudaw reports that 26 explosions occurred in ʿAfrin, injuring dozens of people (Rudaw).
Al-Karamah Forces criticize Syrian Regime
Once again, the Al-Karamah forces issued a statement blaming the Syrian regime for the deteriorating security situation in As-Suwayda. According to the statement, the regime offers protection to ISIS members and grants them access to the province of As-Suwayda (SMART News).
On August 2, 2019, an armed group abducted a young man from the village Umm Az-Zaytun, in northern As-Suwayda province. Thirty million Syrian pounds are demanded for his release (SMART News).