Newsletter - December 23, 2015

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Tall Abyad: Autonomous administration describes attack on FSA as a misunderstanding

KurdWatch, December 23, 2015—On December 16, 2015, Mansur as-Salum, co-chairperson of the Autonomous Administration set up by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), apologized for the attack of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) on a checkpoint of the brigade Thuwwar ar‑Raqqah, which is part of the Free Syrian Army [further information]. He described the attack as a misunderstanding. As‑Salum rejected the accusation that Turks, Iraqis and Iranians administer Tall Abyad. 

Al-Maʿbada: Asayiş use water cannon against demonstrators

KurdWatch, December 23, 2015—On December 17, 2015, the Kurdish National Council organized a demonstration in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) to mark »Kurdish Flag Day«. Approximately one thousand people took part in the event. Employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), tried unsuccessfully to disperse the demonstration using water cannons. Following the demonstration, they abducted several of the organizers of the event, including Khalil Ose, chairperson of the regional committee of the Kurdish National Council in al‑Maʿbada. President Masʿud Barzani condemned the attack in a letter to the Kurdish National Council. 

Aleppo: YPG supposed to close transfer point to area controlled by the regime

KurdWatch, December 22, 2015—On November 19, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Operation Center for the Liberation of Aleppo, an alliance of Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamist opposition groups with the exception of the Islamic State (IS) signed an agreement on disputed territories in Aleppo and ʿAfrin. The different parties committed themselves to cease all combat operations and to enable traffic of civilians and militias between Shaikh Maqsud and ʿAfrin. Furthermore, fighters on both sides should retreat to their own territories. The YPG thus remains in control of Shaikh Maqsud. Moreover, the People’s Defense Units committed to closing a transition point between Shaikh Maqsud and an area controlled by the regime. A joint committee is supposed to supervise the closing. In addition, the militia of the Operation Center for the Liberation of Aleppo is supposed to once again be allowed to enter the eastern part of Shaikh Maqsud. Finally, at least one joint checkpoint should be set up. A similar agreement was already signed on December 3 [further information].

Al‑Jawadiyah: Village residents attack an Asayiş station and free relatives

KurdWatch, December 22, 2015—On December 13, 2015 employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed several houses in as‑Suwaydiyah (Siwêdîkê), a village about thirty kilometers east of al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and forcibly recruited nine young men for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). A few hours later several relatives of the young men gathered in front of the Asayiş station and demanded their release. When the Asayiş didn’t comply with their demands, the relatives stormed the station and freed all nine men. The PYD subsequently cut the village’s electricity and water supply and cordoned off the village. Early in the morning of December 14, the Asayiş abducted another eight residents of the village, among them Bahzad Rasho, Khashman Jarullah, Jamil Husam, Salih Badir, Salih Jundi, Khalid Hasan, Salih Ahmad Sulayman and Ahmad Jarullah. The Asayiş reported the incident on its Facebook page and published photos with weapons, ammunition, and medication that had been supposedly confiscated in as‑Suwaydiyah.

Tall Abyad: FSA fighter fatally shot at a YPG checkpoint

KurdWatch, December 20, 2015—On December 14, 2015, Mustafa al‑Habbal, a fighter for the Thuwwar ar‑Raqqah brigades of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), was fatally shot at a checkpoint close to the village of ʿAntar, around ten kilometers south of Tall Abyad. Two other fighters were injured. The perpetrators are supposedly two fighters for the People’s Defense Unit (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) who drove by the checkpoint on a motorbike and shot at the guard post. Subsequently, the assembly of tribes from ar‑Raqqah published a statement on December 15, 2015 in which it demanded that the perpetrators surrender within fourty‑eight hours. Furthermore, the assembly called again on the YPG to leave the area [further information]. The assembly accuses the YPG of systematically expelling Arab residents from the villages around Suluk and Tall Abyad and requested that it hand over the administration of Tall Abyad to its residents. According to the assembly, Tall Abyad is presently not controlled by Syrians but by Kurds originally from Turkey, Iraq or Iran. The statement called for a comprehensive investigation of YPG human rights violations by international actors such as Amnesty International and the United Nations. The assembly also announced that the tribes from ar‑Raqqah would not just stand by and watch the displacement policies of the YPG.

Tall Abyad: Arab tribes issue an ultimatum to the YPG

KurdWatch, December 18, 2015—On December 5, 2015, the assembly of tribes from ar‑Raqqah organized a demonstration in Suluk, with approximately three hundred male participants, against the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) policies. In a statement, those gathered requested that the PYD’s People's Defense Units (YPG) stay out of their territories as well as hand over those »criminals who are responsible for the assaults [no further explanation]« within fourty-eight hours. It further stated that the »sons of the [Arabic] tribes in ar-Raqqah will no longer watch the systematic expulsion from Suluk and Tall Abyad«.

The YPG captured the city of Tall Abyad and its surroundings in June 2015 [further information], and since then the YPG has been accused of violating human rights, among others by Amnesty International.

Al-Qamishli: Hunger strike in a PYD prison

KurdWatch, December 18, 2015—On December 3, 2015, the Asayiş, the security forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released Siwar Khalaf Biro, a member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), after two weeks. Biro was abducted from his workplace in al‑Qamishli on November 22, 2015 by Asayiş employees. He was first kept in a prison in ad‑Darbasiyah, where he started a hunger strike with six other activists: Haitham Haso, Muhammad Hasan, Sarbast Fahim, Kazim Ahmad, ʿIzzudin Mula and Farhad Kamal. Also participating in the hunger strike were Kamiran Shaiku, who has kidney disease, and ʿAbdulghani Qari. On December 2, Biro was moved to al‑Qamishli. He told KurdWatch that the strike continued after his release. He also said that he met a total of eleven people in both prisons who had been abducted by the Asayiş in the last four weeks during demonstrations of the Kurdish National Council.

Aleppo: Presumably weapons dropped over Shaikh Maqsud

KurdWatch, December 16, 2015—According to eye witness reports, in the night of December 2 to 3, 2015, two Russian‑made airplanes dropped five to ten packages over the Aleppo district of Shaikh Maqsud, which is under the control of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Between November 27 and December 2 there were clashes between the YPG and Islamist groups [further information]. It is unclear whether the planes belong to the Syrian or Russian air force. Supposedly the dropped goods contained weapons and munitions.

Al-Malikiyah: PYD organizes a counterevent in response to an opposition meeting in Riyadh

KurdWatch, December 16, 2015—On December 8 and 9, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) staged a meeting in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) during which a new Syrian opposition alliance, the »Council for a Democratic Syria« was formed. A total of 103 delegates, primarily from PYD‑affiliated organizations, participated in the meeting. The council, also representing the recently formed Syrian Democratic Forces [further information], comprises of fourty-two people. Haytham Mannaʿ, former leading member of the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change [further information], and Ilham Ahmad were elected on December 12 as cochairpersons.

At the same time, a meeting of Syrian opposition groups was held in the Saudi capital Riyadh. The PYD was not invited to this event, although the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change, of which the PYD is a member, participated in the meeting. The Union received six delegate spots, but none was made available for the PYD.

Al-Qamischli: Kurdish National Council protests against PYD policies

KurdWatch, December 14, 2015—On December 10, 2015, the Kurdish National Council in al‑Qamischli organized a demonstration against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in honor of International Human Rights Day. Around eight hundred people took part in the event. The speakers spoke out against the school policies of the PYD as well as forced recruitment and demanded the release of political prisoners. 

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