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KURDWATCH, January 30, 2015—On January 26, 2015, fighters for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party  (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), in cooperation with Peshmerga forces and support from the US Air Force, expelled Islamic State fighters (IS) from the last of the streets still under its control in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The IS is still present in the surrounding areas.

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KURDWATCH, January 30, 2015—On January 24, 2015, after several days of negotiations in Erbil, representatives of the Kurdish National Council and the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), which is controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), agreed on the composition of the Kurdish Decision-making Body. The PYD was able to negotiate so that the representatives of the three parties excluded from the Kurdish National Council will remain in the Kurdish Decision-making Body. To this end, three new seats were created, which the PYD plans to fill with these representatives. For its part, the Kurdish National Council is also allowed to fill three newly created seats in addition to the twelve seats that it was previously held. The Kurdish National Council thus has a total of fifteen votes in the Kurdish Decision-making Body. In addition to its original twelve seats, TEV‑DEM controls the three seats belonging to the former representatives of the Kurdish National Council as well as at least five of the six seats whose filling led to the conflicts [further information].

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KURDWATCH, January 30, 2015—On January 24, 2015, three surface-to-surface missiles of an unknown origin hit Tall Tamr and destroyed at least one house. Residents of the city are reporting increased activity by fighters for the Islamic State (IS) southwest of the line from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) over Tall Tamr to al‑Hasakah.

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KURDWATCH, January 30, 2015—On January 19, 2015, the Kurdish National Council’s local committee in al‑Qamishli once again canceled a demonstration due to the conflicts in al‑Hasakah [further information]. The demonstration was to be directed against the forcible recruitment and kidnapping of minors by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). In a statement, the central committee of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) described the cancellation as unfounded and announced a new demonstration.

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KURDWATCH, January 30, 2015—On January 20, 2015, between forty and fifty civilians were killed in a Syrian air force attack on the village of Khansaʾ, a few kilometers south of Tall Hamis. Approximately twice as many people were injured. A so-called barrel bomb (an improvised explosive device) was dropped on a popular market. Tall Hamis and the surrounding region to the south are controlled by the Islamic State (IS).

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KURDWATCH, January 26, 2015—On January 18, 2015, Syrian security forces arrested the writer Ibrahim Farhan al‑Khalil at the home of a relative in al‑Hasakah. The reasons behind the arrest are unknown.

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KURDWATCH, January‑25, 2015—On January‑19,‑2015, sharpshooters for regime-affiliated militias in al‑Hasakah wounded Ismaʿil Nuruddin Yusuf (b.‑1995 in al‑Hasakah). He succumbed to his injuries at a hospital a few hours later.

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KURDWATCH, January 25, 2015—On January 20, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) attacked several checkpoints controlled by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) a few kilometers south of the city of Tall Tamr. According to information from the YPG, eleven IS fighters were killed; the attackers reportedly withdrew.

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KURDWATCH, January 25, 2015—On January 18, 2015, approximately twenty-five activists and relatives of the ninth-grader Hamrin Husain again demonstrated in ʿAmudah for the return of the minor recruited by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The Kurdish National Council’s local committee had initially called for the demonstration, but canceled it at the last minute referencing the conflicts between PYD and regime-affiliated militias in al‑Hasakah [further information].

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KURDWATCH, December 25, 2014—On December 18, 2014, the twenty-two-year-old student of English Rodi Najmuddin Ahmad (b. in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî]) was executed in an Islamic State prison in ar‑Raqqah. He had been kidnapped on November 16, 2014 and was accused of blasphemy.

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KURDWATCH, January 24, 2015—Between January 16 and 18 2015, heavy fighting broke out in several of the districts of al‑Hasakah under the control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The conflicts occurred between fighters for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) and its security service (Asayiş) on one side and fighters for the regime-affiliated National Defense Army on the other. The Syrian Army shelled residential districts with surface-to-surface missiles. According to information from the PYD, at least seven of its fighters and four civilians were killed. It is not yet clear what caused the conflicts, which flared up again for a few hours on January 29.

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KURDWATCH, January 21, 2015—On January 14, 2015, an employee of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), fired upon a passing vehicle at a checkpoint in al‑Hasakah ʿAbdurrahman ʿAbtan, member of the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), and Bashar Amin, member of the politburo of the same party, were in the vehicle. No one was harmed. The Asayiş said the incident was the result of the inexperience of the employee who fired the shots. In a statement to the press, however, the PDK‑S drew a possible connection to an appearance that the two members had made on a live broadcast on the Iraqi-Kurdish television station Zagros‑TV, which was aired shortly before the incident. Journalists for this station have already been affected by PYD repression on several occasions [further information]. On the other hand, Bashar Amin was previously kidnapped by the Asayiş on May 14, 2014 and left at the Syrian-Iraqi border in his pajamas [further information].

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KURDWATCH, January 21, 2015—On January 9, 2015, members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) held a so-called great assembly in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). According to party statutes, the great assembly is the highest authority after the party congress. At the meeting, Kamiran Haj ʿAbdu, a doctor who lives in Germany, was elected as new party secretary. It was also agreed that a party congress will be held within a year. Haj ʿAbdu and other members of the central committee took part in the assembly, while the previous party secretary, Muhyiddin Shaykh Ali, and his supporters were absent. Whereas Ali represents the ʿAfrin-wing of the party, ʿAbdu, although he is himself from ʿAfrin, belongs to the Al‑Qamishli-wing. Conflicts have arisen within the Democratic Yekîtî in the past. Ali was accused of intentionally organizing party congresses and great assemblies so that members of the Al‑Qamishli-wing could not attend [further information]. A further reason for dissatisfaction is Ali’s closeness with the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Ali has not yet reacted to ʿAbdu’s election.

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KURDWATCH, January 16, 2015—On January 9, 2015, US‑Air Force aircraft attacked Islamic State (IS) positions around the city of Tall Hamis, forty kilometers south al‑Qamishli. Information about IS losses is not available.

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KURDWATCH, January 16, 2015—The Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) have indicated that on January 9, 2015, they attacked Islamic State (IS) positions near the village of Rayhaniyah, twenty-five kilometers south of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Reportedly, at least three IS fighters were killed and one military vehicle was destroyed in the process.

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KURDWATCH, January 16, 2015—On January 9, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a demonstration in al‑Qamishli to commemorate the second anniversary of the murder of three female activists for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party  (PKK) in Paris. Approximately one thousand people took part in the demonstration.

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KURDWATCH, December 31, 2014—On December 26, 2014, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to recapture the area around the village of Abu Qasayib, twenty kilometers south of al‑Qamishli, with support from the Syrian army. A few days earlier, the area had been captured by the Islamic State (IS) [further information]. On December 27, PYD‑supporters buried nine YPG fighters who were killed in the fighting.

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KURDWATCH, December 31, 2014—On December 26, 2014, members of the youth organization Freedom Cooperative of ʿAfrin, which operates underground, distributed flyers in ʿAfrin calling for the release of all prisoners of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). They also called attention to the forcible recruitment of minors generally and pointed to the case of fifteen-year-old Hamrin Husain [further information] in particular.

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KURDWATCH, December 31, 2014—On December 27, 2014, the Kurdish National Council’s local committee organized a demonstration in ʿAmudah against the forcible recruitment of minors by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Approximately six hundred people took part in the rally, including numerous politicians and activists. The reason for the rally was the kidnapping of the fifteen-year-old pupil Hamrin Husain [further information]. The banner of one of the demonstrators read: »The Islamic State is kidnapping our women and the PYD our children.«

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KURDWATCH, December 31, 2014—On December 23, 2014, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) recruited ninth-grader Hamrin ʿAbdulhamid Husayn (known by the family name ʿIdi) without seeking her parents’ consent. The girl was picked up in front of her parental home in ʿAmudah. In a press release, her brother Marwan ʿIdi stated: »I went to the Democratic Union Party’s Women’s Defense Units and Asayiş. Both claimed that Hamrin was not with them. However, Hamrin had contacted a friend by phone and had told her she and a group of girls were on their way to a military training ground in the Qandil mountains.« On December 24, 2014, about ten family members of Hamrin’s organized a rally in ʿAmudah and demanded that the PYD let their daughter return home.

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KURDWATCH, December 31, 2014—In mid-December 2014, the body of sixteen-year-old ʿAfan Dschumʿa al‑ʿAbusch was found in a field near his home village of Scharmukh, twenty kilometers south of al‑Qamischli. Since the beginning of the civil war, the area has alternately been controlled by the regime, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Jabhat an‑Nusra, the Islamic State (IS), and regime affiliated Arab militias. Relatives of the deceased, as well as Arab activists and the Syrian National Coalition have accused the PKK of kidnapping and killing the Arab boy. By contrast, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) have explained that al‑ʿAbusch was killed by a mine explosion. Photos of the deceased exhibit injuries that would, in fact, point to a mine explosion.

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KURDWATCH, December 31, 2014—On December 16, 2014, two employees of the Iraqi-Kurdish television station Rûdaw, Farhad Hame and Masʿud ʿAqil, as well as their vehicle disappeared without a trace east of al‑Qamishli. The Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), explained to the relatives of the missing that the Islamic State (IS) had erected a checkpoint on the road and kidnapped the journalists. However the Asayiş itself has repeatedly kidnapped critical journalists, especially employees of Rûdaw. Hame was previously detained by the Asayiş on February 6, 2014 [further information].

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KURDWATCH, December 30, 2014—On December 16, 2014, employees of the transitional administration of the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), distributed voting documents in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). According to the documents, the legislative council and the municipal administrations are up for election. Identical documents were distributed in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) on November 5, 2014. More precise information is not available.

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KURDWATCH, December 30, 2014—On December 30, 2014, an explosive device attached to a motorcycle exploded near a National Defense Army checkpoint in al‑Hasakah. Two fighters for the regime-affiliated militia were injured.

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