Syria Media Roundup – September 16 to 22, 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.

Arrest Wave by the PYD

On September 16, 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested and deported nine young men from a refugee camp in ʿAyn ʿIsa (SMART News, September 17, 2019). Two days later, another fifty-five young persons from Al-Mansura and sixteen youths from the villages of Khnez, Tal Al-Samman and Al-Fatsa were arrested in the northern province of Ar-Raqqah. Eight teenagers were arrested in Al-Karamah, east of Ar-Raqqah, and further arrests took place in other cities and villages (SMART News, 18 September 2019). On September 19 and 21, 2019, the arrests of twenty-two internally displaced persons from a refugee camp west of Ar-Raqqah and more than forty youth in the city of Ar-Raqqah were documented (SMART News). In most cases, the arrested young men are forcibly recruited for military service in the SDF.

The Asayiş, the secret service of the PYD, banned a cultural event organized by the Kurdish National Councils (KNC) local council in Qamishli last week as part of a series of actions to oppress political opponents (ARK News, September 16, 2019). Shortly after the ban became public, the KNC issued a statement condemning the actions of the PYD (ARK News, 17 September 2019). On September 17, 2019, the Asayiş released four captured members of the PDK-S, a member party of the KNC. The released persons had been arrested by the Asayiş in the village Bani Shikafte in Al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) on April 10, 2019 (SMART News, ARK News, September 17, 2019).

On September 19, 2019, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) issued a report accusing the SDF of providing oil and gas supplies to the Syrian regime. The SNHR report calls for investigations revealing the SDFs revenues for oil and gas exports. The report states that the SDF support the Assad regime, which is involved in severe human rights violations and subject to sanctions by the USA and the EU. Moreover, the SDF do not expose their revenues for oil and gas exports. The authors assume that a considerable amount of these revenues is handed over to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) which has been classified as terrorist group by many governments (SNHR, ARK News). On September 18, 2019, the Pentagon announced that it would continue to militarily support the SDF (SMART News, September 19, 2019).

Abductions by Militias in ʿAfrin

A report of ARK News mentions the case of Istrvan Asʿad Abdo from ʿAfrin, who was kidnapped, together with her two children, one and a half years ago, on May 20, 2018. Until today her fate is unknown. Allegedly, other members of Abdo’s family were also kidnapped, some were severely tortured and then released (ARK News, September 16, 2019). Moreover, there were several reports on abductions by militias in ʿAfrin. On September 10, Mohammad Hassan Kawas died as a result of torture. Subsequently, his wife and two children were abducted by armed factions. On September 12, another armed faction tortured Hammudi Mustafa and brought him to an unknown location. On September 13, the armed Al-Hamzat faction abducted the Yazid Yazijan Isso. On September 15, armed militants from the Al-Amshat faction abducted 65-year-old Ali Aref Hameed. The same day, a 17-year-old teenager, Manab Abdo, was abducted by armed factions (Rudaw, September 18, 2019).

In a report to the UN General Assembly, the Organization Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) criticizes the Turkish government for suppressing the identity of the inhabitants of ʿAfrin and accuses Turkish units and their allied Syrian militias of destroying historic, cultural and religious sites in ʿAfrin (STJ, SMART News, September 20, 2019).