Newsletter - July 01, 2015

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Forcible recruitments and the deployment of child soldiers by the Democratic Union Party in Syria

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2015—On July 13, 2014, the legislative council for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), enacted a law on compulsory military service entitled the »Duty of Self-Defense«. The following report analyzes the text of the law and concerns itself with the recruiting practices of the PYD’s paramilitary, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), since the law was adopted.

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Ar-Raqqah: Six dead in mine explosion

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2015—On June 24, 2015, a mine exploded under a minibus on the way from ar‑Raqqah to ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Six Kurdish passengers were killed, and others were injured. The passengers in the minibus had left the city of ar‑Raqqah at the request of the Islamic State (IS) [further information].

ʿAyn al-ʿArab: IS kills more than two hundred people

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2015—On June 25, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) advanced into the city of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). They entrenched themselves in several buildings and fired indiscriminately at civilians. In addition, IS‑fighters killed civilians in at least seven surrounding villages including Kanʿftar, Manaz Tirmik, Darbazin, Kharus, and Barkh Batan. At least twenty-five people were murdered in Barkh Batan, located twenty-five kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) reports a total of 201 deaths. On 27. June, fighters for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to kill all of the IS‑fighters in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab.

Tall Tamr: Underage YPG fighter severely wounded

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2015—In December 2014, Muhammad Khalid Kikiya (b. 6. January 1999 in ad‑Darbasiyah), who was fifteen-years-old at the time, disappeared from Erbil in Iraqi-Kurdistan, where he had fled with his parents and siblings to escape the civil war in Syria. His family suspected he was with the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). For months they tried to get information about his whereabouts from the YPG as well as from the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service, but they were always told that nothing was known about his whereabouts. In February 2015, the family finally learned that its son was indeed fighting for the YPG in Tall Tamr. He was deployed on an all-terrain vehicle mounted with machine guns and was in command of five fighters, who were also underage. In March he was critically wounded in al‑Aghibsh near Tall Tamr. With the help of the YPG, his family brought him to Iraqi-Kurdistan for treatment. His cousin ʿAli Jamil Kikiya told KurdWatch: »Muhammad is blind in one eye. He lost several fingers and can hardly walk due to the splinters in his leg.«

Al-Hasakah: IS captures several districts

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2015—On June 25, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) started a major offensive against the city of al‑Hasakah, capturing two large, majority Arab districts in the south of the city only a few hours later. At the same time, government troops were bombing the districts heavily. By June 26, between fifty and eighty thousand residents fled toward ʿAmudah and al‑Qamishli or to the north of the city. The Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) have not yet joined the fight against the IS in the south of the city. According to unconfirmed reports, the PYD has demanded the control of the entire city as well as of a strategically important mountain east of the city as a precondition for intervening. The regime would retain nothing but the government buildings. The PYD also wants to take over military command in all of the regions in which it operates. Furthermore, it wants the regime to equip the YPG with heavy weaponry while disarming its Arab militias.

Ar-Raqqah: IS expels Kurds

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2015—KurdWatch has received two announcements by the Islamic State (IS). The first is dated June 19, 2015. It calls upon IS fighters to expel the Kurds, who are described as apostates, from the northern part of ar‑Raqqah province, as there are collaborators among them. The second, undated statement, which was released at about the same time, describes the Kurdish residents as brothers, but nevertheless gives them a period of 72 hours to leave the region and head toward Palmyra. However, instead, there seems to be a movement of refugees toward ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Kurdish residents are also requested to register their properties with the appropriate Islamic State office so that they will not be mistaken for property of the IS. Presumably the goal is actually the opposite—to gain an overview of the properties belonging to fleeing Kurds in order to be able to confiscate them.

Al-Qamishli: PYD disrupts Yekîtî activities commemorating the »Arab Belt«

KURDWATCH, June 30, 2015—On June 24, 2015, the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) organized a rally in front of one of its party offices in al‑Qamishli to mark the 41st anniversary of the »Arab Belt« policy. Approximately fifty demonstrators demanded the return of the lands expropriated at that time. A seminar on the topic was organized in Tall Tamr, and party members distributed flyers in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, ad‑Darbasiyah, and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). In al‑Qamishli, four party members were picked up by the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), while distributing flyers. They were released the same day. The »Arab Belt« policy stipulated the deportation of a total of one hundred forty thousand Kurds from more than three hundred villages along a ten to fifteen-kilometer wide swath of land along the Turkish and Iraqi border. The Kurds were to be replaced by Arab settlers. The implementation of the plan, enacted in 1965, began in 1973. By 1976, approximately twenty-five thousand Arab families had been settled in al‑Hasakah province.

Tall Tamr: Fifteen-year-old YPG fighter killed

KURDWATCH, June 29, 2015—On March 7, 2015, fifteen-year-old Iwan Waisi Kikiya (b.  March 17 1999 in ad‑Darbasiyah) was killed in action against the Islamic State (IS) in the village of al‑Aghibsh, two kilometers west of Tall Tamr. He had joined the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in August 2014. At that time, his father had been in prison in Damascus for several years, and his mother was a PYD sympathizer. His cousin ʿAli Jamil Kikiya told KurdWatch: »About twenty days after his recruitment, Iwan was sent to the front west of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). After fellow combatants were wounded and killed in an attack, he left the YPG, but he was later convinced to rejoin the fight.«

Tall Abyad: YPG closes in on ar‑Raqqah

KURDWATCH, June 28, 2015—On June 23, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) took over an important Islamic State (IS) military camp, the Brigade 93 base, which formerly belonged to the Syrian army. A few hours later, the city of ʿAin ʿIsa, thirty-five kilometers south of Tall Abyad, was also captured. YPG fighters are now only forty kilometers north of ar‑Raqqah, the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold.

Al-Qamishli: Kurdish National Council holds third conference

KURDWATCH, June 27, 2015—On June 16, 2015, the Kurdish National Council held its third conference in al‑Qamishli. A total of 282 participants established a new body, the Council, which is comprised of eighty-one members. The following thirteen parties received three seats each, regardless of the party’s importance:
1. the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) (chairman: Ibrahim Biro);
2. the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) (chairman: Siʿud Mala);
3. the Kurdish Democratic Advancement Party in Syria (chairman: ʿAbdulhamid Hajji Darwish);
4. the Kurdish Reform Movement – Syria (chairman: Faysal Yusuf);
5. the Kurdish Democratic Equality Party in Syria (chairman: Niʿmat Dawud;
6. the Kurdish Democratic Patriotic Party in Syria (chairman: Tahir Saʿdun Sifuk);
7. the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) (chair: vacant);
8. the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) (chairman: Kamiran Haj ʿAbdu);
9. the Kurdish Democratic Left Party in Syria (chairman: Shalal Gado);
10. the Kurdistan Left Party – Syria (chairman: Mahmud Mala);
11. the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria (chairman: Siamand Hajo);
12. the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria (head of the communication office: Narin Matini);
13. the Syrian Yazidi Council.
The partiesnames listed under points 7, 9, and 10 are all splinter groups of parties that were excluded from the Kurdish National Council due to their ties to the PYD [further information]. The Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Reconciliation (Rêkeftin), a splinter party of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), merged with the Kurdistan Left Party in June 2015.
The remaining forty-two seats in the Council were filled with nonpartisans elected by the independent members of the Kurdish National Council.
The conference’s planning committee presented a draft of bylaws to the participants. Following revisions by a legal commission, the members of the newly elected Council are to vote on the bylaws as well as on the Kurdish National Council’s program. In addition, Siamand Hajo’s Kurdish Future Movement submitted three proposals. The first recommends forming a military wing of the Kurdish National Council, the second calls for breaking off all contact with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and the third outlines a suggestion for the future administration of the predominantly Kurdish regions in Syria. The first proposal was discussed in detail and a majority responded favorably. The existence of the other two proposals was announced, but they were not voted upon, as was intended in the proposals. The conference’s planning committee decided that the newly elected Council should discuss the proposals and also decide on them.

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