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.
On 3 October 2019, Syrians for Truth and Justice published a report stating that nineteen persons were arrested by the PYD security forces and forces of the International Coalition against ISIS in September 2019. Some were arrested for their cooperation with Turkish authorities or the so-called Islamic State. In other cases, the reasons for the arrests were not communicated (SMART News). On October 6, 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), under the leadership of the PYD, arrested and detained five youth in the city of Ar-Raqqah (SMART News).
There are continued military preparations on the Syrian-Turkish border and in the areas controlled by the SDF. Forces of the International Coalition moved twenty-five trucks from Al-Hasakah to the military base at ʿAyn ʿIsa in the province of Ar-Raqqah (SMART News, October 4, 2019). Furthermore, equipment of the International Coalition was transported from Iraq to bases in Ash-Shaddadi (SMART News, October 5, 2019). The Turkish army sent units to the Syrian-Turkish border in the Turkish province of Hatay and in Tell Abyad (SMART News, October 4, 2019; SMART News, October 6, 2019). Also the SDF increased its military presence in Tell Abyad (SMART News, October 6, 2019). On October 6, 2019, the Syrian National Army of the opposition announced that it would support the Turkish army with around fourteen thousand fighters in the event of a Syrian invasion (ARK News).
On October 6, 2019, the PYD-led Self-Administration warned of a new formation of ISIS in the refugee camp Al-Hawl, in case Turkey should conquer the northeast of Syria. According to the spokesman of the PYD, it would be difficult to control ISIS fighter living in the refugee camp (Rudaw). On October 5, 2019, SDF commander Mazloum Abdi called for the international community to contribute to the security of the refugee camp Al-Hawl (Rudaw).
On September 30, 2019, Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, announced that the first meeting of the Syrian Constitutional Committee would be held in Geneva on October 30, 2019 (SMART News). According to Naser Al-Hariri, chairman of the Syrian Negotiation Committee of the Opposition, the blockade by the Syrian regime is the biggest challenge for the success of the Constitutional Committee (SMART News).
At the beginning of the olive harvest in ʿAfrin, farmers are faced with looting by armed factions. In the village of Maersk, for example, the Al-Sham Front faction displaced seventeen families and confiscated their olive trees (Rudaw, September 30, 2019). According to a report by Syrians for Truth and Justice, the number of arrests by armed factions related to the opposition’s Syrian National Army is increasing. In September 2019 alone, the factions arrested over one hundred and twenty people, including seventeen women and girls. Seventy of the arrested persons were later released. The fate of fifty-seven detainees is still unknown (SMART News, ARK News, October 2, 2019).