Syria Media Roundup – October 14 to 20, 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.

The Turkish military operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) dominated the headlines last week. The Syrian National Army of the Syrian opposition announced that it had conquered some villages around Raʾs Al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) in the province of Al-Hasakah and villages around Tall Abyad in the province of Ar-Raqqah. In addition, two villages in Manbij are under their control (SMART News). On October 17, 2019, the Turkish Army and the Syrian National Army sent further fighters to the western part of the city of Tall Abyad to continue their campaign against the SDF (SMART News).

Under the agreement between the Syrian regime and the PYD, the Syrian regime stationed military units in areas along the Syrian-Turkish border. On October 14, 2019, the Syrian army sent around one hundred and fifty soldiers to Manbij to fight against the Turkish army (SMART News). On October 15, 2019, about five hundred soldiers of the Syrian Army arrived in Tall Tamr in Al-Hasakah province (SMART News, Rudaw).

Meanwhile, the US forces continued to withdraw from their bases in northern Syria. On October 15, 2019, they left Manbij and ʿAyn Al-ʿArab (Kobanî) (SMART News, Rudaw). Already on the following 16 October 2019, a military convoy of the Syrian regime arrived in ʿAyn Al-ʿArab (Kobanî) (SMART News). On October 17, 2019, the International Coalition against ISIS announced its withdrawal from Ar-Raqqah and Al-Tabqah (SMART News).

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced on October 17, Russia’s confirmation to keep the YPG away from the Syrian-Turkish border. Çavuşoğlu added that there is an agreement between Turkey and the United States over the Turkish control of the so-called security zone. He also announced that the Turkish attack should be suspended, but heavy weapons of the SDF must be withdrawn from the area. US Vice President Mike Pence pronounced that the Turkish and the US governments had agreed to a truce for one hundred and twenty hours. During this time, SDF troops were to withdraw thirty-two kilometers from the Syrian-Turkish border (SMART News). The SDF expressed their accord to the agreement (Rudaw, October 17, 2019). They then started to withdraw from their positions between Raʾs Al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), Tall Abyad, and ʿAyn ʿIsa (SMART News, October 18, 2019). On October 20, 2019, the SDF announced its complete withdrawal from the city of Raʾs Al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) (SMART News, ARK News, Rudaw).

On 16 October 2019, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that the Turkish attack has so far killed seventy-one civilians and dispelled three hundred thousand people (Rudaw, Syrian Human Rights Observatory).