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.
Relocation of Units at Syrian-Turkish Border
Numerous articles report on the relocation of units and military equipment of the US-led International Alliance and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to the Syrian-Turkish border towns of Tell Abyad and ʿAyn ʿIsa (SMART News, August 19, 2019; August 2019). Due to the threat of a military confrontation, on August 24, 2019 around one-hundred-fifty more civilians fled from the area of Tell Abyad to the cities of Ar-Raqqah and Sluk on 24 August 2019 (SMART News).
On August 20, 2019, the SDF arrested and forcibly recruited seven young men in Kalta City, in Ar-Raqqah Province (SMART News).
On August 24, 2019, the SDF announced that they will take over the military bases of YPG and YPJ at the Syrian-Turkish border in Raʾs Al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) in the north of Al-Hasakah and in Tell Abyad (SMART News). Mazlum Abdi, the commander of the SDF, said: “In coordination with the US, we will make every effort to reach an agreement with Turkey. There are initial agreements that will ensure security in the region, and we will contribute as a positive part to this process” (Rudaw). According to reports, the YPG has already withdrawn from its positions near Raʾs Al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) to an area twenty kilometers behind the border and moved its heavy weaponry towards Al-Hasakah (SMART News, August 25, 2019).
Kidnappings in ʿAfrin
On August 18, 2019, armed factions in ʿAfrin kidnapped dozens of Kurdish civilians because of their alleged ties to the PYD. Subsequently, the armed factions demanded ransom for the release of the kidnapped individuals (ARK News, August 20, 2019). On August 19, 2019, armed factions kidnapped a woman on the outskirts of Basuta in ʿAfrin province, her fate is unknown. Mohammed Ahmed Khider, member of the PDK-S and member of the Basuta Town Council, was kidnapped by armed factions on August 21, 2019. His whereabouts are unclear (ARK News, August 22, 2019). On August 22, 2019, armed factions kidnapped Sheikh Said Zadah, also PDK-S member and member of the local council of Shara, a sub-district of ʿAfrin. His whereabouts and the reason for his abduction are also unclear (ARK News, August 23, 2019).
Al-Karamah Forces Criticize Syrian Regime
According to the Sheikh Al-Karamah forces, a young man from Umm Az-Zaytun in the northern province of As-Suwayda, has been killed because the requested ransom was not payed. He had been abducted by a criminal gang. The Al-Karamah forces now accuse the Syrian regime of having made no effort to contribute to the liberation of the abducted young man (SMART News, 21 August 2019).