Syria Media Roundup – September 2 to 8, 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.

Kurdistan 24 Deprived of Media License

On September 4, 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested and deported twelve young men near the city of Al-Tabqah in Ar-Raqqah province (SMART News). In the night of September 6 to 7, the SDF intelligence service arrested the chairman of the local council of Al-Haws village in Ar-Raqqah province. The reason for the arrest and the place where the person is captured are unknown (SMART News).

The PYD Self-Administration is taking further measures to restrict the work of the media in northeastern Syria. Thus, the news channel “Kurdistan 24” was revoked the license for public reporting. In a statement, Kurdistan 24 states that license withdrawal is a general indicator of the Self-Administration’s behavior towards critical reporting (ARK News, 2 September 2019).

On September 5, 2019, the Self-Administration handed over three Nigerian children of ISIS fighters to a representative of the Nigerian government in the city of Al-Qamishli in northeastern Syria (Rudaw, SMART News).

On September 2, 2019, SDF units targeted fighters of the oppositional rebel group Syrian National Army near the cities of Aʿzaz and Mareʿ in Aleppo province. In the incident, a fighter of the Syrian National Army was killed, others were injured. The Turkish forces responded to the attack by targeting SDF bases south of Mareʿ (SMART News, September 3, 2019). On September 3, 2019, forces of the International Alliance against ISIS, along with SDF forces, conducted a military patrol at the Syrian-Turkish border in the area around Tall Abyad (SMART News). On September 7, 2019, the SDF announced that according to the US-Turkey agreement, local military councils will take over SDF sites in the security zone along the border.  These will be trained by forces of the International Alliance and will fill the vacuum after the withdrawal of the SDF from the security zone (SMART News). Under this agreement, US and Turkish forces conducted joint patrols in Ar-Raqqah province for the first time on September 8, 2019 (ARK News, SMART News).

Concern for Yazidis in ʿAfrin

In a media report dated September 4, 2019, Ali Isso, director of the Yazidi organization Ezdina, expressed concern about the situation of the Yazidi in ʿAfrin. According to him, armed factions in ʿAfrin kill and abduct Yazidis and forced them to convert to Islam. Before the Syrian civil war around 60,000 Yezidis lived in ʿAfrin, but since then already eighty percent of them have been expelled (Rudaw). On September 3, 2019, armed factions abducted twenty civilians from the village Marata in ʿAfrin. The armed factions justified the abduction by accusing the abductees of maintaining contact with the PYD Self-Administration and demanded a ransom for their release (ARK News). Furthermore, the Al-Amshat faction in ʿAfrin’s sub-district Shiya has been accused of having tortured a civilian named Hekmat Hanif and of subsequently having expelled him from his home. It was reported that a displaced family from another part of Syria had been accommodated in Hanif’s house after the incident (ARK News, 5 September 2019).