Syria Media Roundup – September 9 to 15, 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.

Protests against SDF

On September 9, 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested thirty young men from a refugee camp in ʿAyn ʿIsa, Ar-Raqqah province, and forced them to serve in the military (SMART News). On September 11, 2019, the SDF arrested another seven young men in the village of Katuniyeh, west of Ar-Raqqah (SMART News).

On September 9, 2019, the Self-Administration increased the fuel prices by thirty-five to fifty percent in the area under its control. According to the Self-Administration increase was due to a shortage of fuel (SMART News). On September 10, 2019, a group of Kurdish activists called in the social media for demonstrations against rising fuel prices (ARK News). On September 11, 2019, dozens of civilians demonstrated in the city Al-Sabʿa Wa Arbaʿien and the surrounding villages in Al-Hasakah province against the destruction of the local livestock market by SDF units. The demonstrators blocked the road between Al-Hasakah and Deir Ez-Zawr. In particular, they criticized the plundering and devastation of the cattle market and the closure of around one hundred shops in the area (ARK News).

On September 10, 2019, forces of the International Alliance against ISIS moved about one hundred trucks with military equipment to bases near the city of Tall Tamr in the province of Al-Hasakah (SMART News). Another twenty trucks were transferred from Al-Hasakah province to a military base near ʿAyn ʿIsa in Ar-Raqqah province on September 11 (SMART News).

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) published a report on abductions by SDF forces. Accordingly, the whereabouts of about three thousand people are still unknown. Among them are hundreds of minors (The SNHR, ARK News, September 11, 2019, SMART News).

The Situation in ʿAfrin

In ʿAfrin, the civilian Muhammad Hanif Hussein died as a result of torture. He was reportedly killed by the military police of the interim government of the Syrian opposition in the Prison of Rajo district in the north of ʿAfrin. The young man was previously arrested in the village of Belilko. He was accused of maintaining contacts with the PYD (ARK News, SMART News, September 10, 2019). A week earlier, another civilian, Mustafa Omar, had been abducted by the Sultan Murad Division. He was also accused of having links to the PYD. His family does not have any information where Omar is being held (SMART News, September 10, 2019). According to the rebel militia Samarkand Brigade, demonstrations against the armed militias were planned in ʿAfrin and therefore, numerous arrests took place in ʿAfrin on September 11, 2019 (SMART News). The same day, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry for Syria released a report stating, “The overall security conditions in ʿAfrin and adjacent districts remained dire with armed factions having carved up the province into geographic zones of influence. As a result there is a general absence of rule of law and repeated incidents of kidnappings, torture, extortion and assassination. Victims were often of Kurdish origin as well as civilians perceived as being prosperous, including doctors, businessmen and merchants” (UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, ARK News).