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KurdWatch, August 31, 2015 – On May 2, 2015, representatives of fifteen predominantly Islamist combat units announced the formation of an operations center in Aleppo. In a video message, they explained that the operations center should bear the name »Labbayki Ukhtah« (»At your service, sister«) and protect the residents of the Shaykh Maqsud district in Aleppo from attacks by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service.
The following groups belong to the operations center:
1. Ahfad as‑Salatin
2. Kataʾib Abu ʿAmara
3. Harakat Ahrar ash‑Sham al‑Islamiyah
4. Kataʾib as‑Safwah
5. al‑Fawj al‑Awwal
6. Jabhat an‑Nusrah
7. Ahrar Suriya
8. Harakat Nuruddin az‑Zanki
9. al‑Jabhah al‑Kurdiyah
10. al‑Firqa 16
11. Harakat Fajr ash‑Sham al‑Islamiyah
12. al‑Jabhah ash‑Shamiyah
13. Kataʾib Thuwwar ash‑Sham
14. Faylaq ash‑Sham
15. Jaysh al‑Islam
The alliance was justified on the grounds that YPG fighters had first insulted a veiled female resident at a checkpoint in the Kurdish district of Shayk Maqsud, which at that point was solely under YPG control, and later asked her to leave her home.
On May 4,, the alliance signed an agreement with the People’s Defense Units. The latter pledged to hand over those responsible for the injustice against the woman to a legal committee with its seat at the office of al‑Jabhah ash‑Shamiyah. In addition, it was agreed that the YPG would lose sole control in Shaykh Maqsud and the district would not be treated as part of the PYD’s transitional administration. A prisoner exchange between the two sides was also agreed upon.
There were delays in implementing the agreement: On May 24, 2015, the »Labbayki Ukhtah« alliance set a two-day deadline, within which the YPG was to implement the agreements of early May. On May 26,, alliance fighters attacked YPG positions and injured two people. A few hours later, representatives for both sides met and agreed on a ceasefire. In a video, a YPG representative stated that the agreements would be implemented quickly.
According to research carried out by KurdWatch, however, this has only partially come to pass. For example, we are not aware of any official prisoner exchange. However, the control over the district of Shayk Maqsud has been divided. The Syrian opposition, which for several months has formed one unit that includes all Islamist groups with the exception of the Islamic State, controls the east of the district while the PYD controls the west. In the area under its control, the PYD also still maintains the so-called street councils, self-administered bodies that distribute aid supplies among other things.
KurdWatch is publishing the document signed by »Labbayki Ukhtah« and the YPG. It is exemplary of the fragile alliances that the most ideologically opposed groups form (and revoke again), especially in heavily contested, ethnically and religiously diverse regions such as Aleppo.

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KURDWATCH, August 31, 2015—At its session in al‑Qamishli on August 29, 2015, the Kurdish National Council resolved to demonstrate against the migration of the Kurdish population from Syrian-Kurdistan and the associated »dangerous« demographic change. Demonstrations are planned for September 5, 2015. However, last week the Kurdish National Council declined to demonstrate against forcible recruitment and arbitrary arrests by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information]. Young men in particular are leaving the region due to the forcible recruitments carried out by the PYD [download report on forcible recruitment].

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KURDWATCH, August 31, 2015—According to a statement by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) released on August 22, 2015, one of the alleged perpetrators of a massacre carried out by Islamic State (IS) fighters on June 25, 2015 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) [further information] has committed suicide. The suspect was being held in a PYD prison in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab.

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KURDWATCH, August 31, 2015—Between August 25 and August 28, 2015, armed conflicts occurred between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Jabhat an‑Nusrah near the village of Dayr Ballut, twenty-five kilometers southwest of ʿAfrin. Several missiles hit Dayr Ballut, injuring at least one civilian.

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KURDWATCH, August 31, 2015—Following the withdrawal of the Jabhat an‑Nusrah and other Syrian opposition groups, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) captured several Arab villages north of Aleppo on August 18, 2015. They also came within a few kilometers of the Kurdish village of Ahras, twenty kilometers north of Aleppo. Hundreds of village residents subsequently fled toward ʿAfrin.

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KURDWATCH, August 28, 2015—On August 22, 2015, one hundred fifty-six recruits finished six months of compulsory military service with the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the village of Tall Baydar, twenty-five kilometers east of Tall Tamr, and were released from military service. The YPG regularly forces recruits, including children and teenagers, to perform military service [download report on forcible recruitment].

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KURDWATCH, August 28, 2015—On August 24, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) kidnapped around thirty to forty Kurdish residents from the village of Qulan, approximately forty kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). According to unconfirmed reports, they are currently being held in neighboring villages.

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KURDWATCH, August 28, 2015—On August 25, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released the chemistry student Azad ʿAbdo Ijo in al‑Qamishli. The member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) was kidnapped by the Asayiş on August 10, 2015 in ad‑Darbasiyah [further information]. On August 22, he began a hunger strike to protest his kidnapping.

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KURDWATCH, August 28, 2015—In a joint press release on August 2, 2015, forty-four members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) announced their withdrawal from the party. As grounds for the decision unspecified organizational and personal differences were mentioned. The PDK‑S was formed in April 2014 when ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), Mustafa Oso’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), and the Kurdistani Union Party in Syria dissolved and together formed the PDK‑S [further information]. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, the people who left the party have now accused members of the former el‑Partî of agreeing to exclusively elect members of their former party to party offices in the internal party elections in May 2015.

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KURDWATCH, August 27, 2015—On August 11, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), searched the home of Shaykh Saʿid Ahmad Shaykh Ismaʿil Zadah in the village of az‑Zaytunah, twenty kilometers north of ʿAfrin and subsequently kidnapped him. He is a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) in the village of Sharran, ten kilometers north of ʿAfrin.

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KURDWATCH, August 26, 2015—On August 14, 2015, several employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), gained access to ʿAbdurrahman Apo’s home in Aleppo. The central committee member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) told KurdWatch: »At around four in the morning, the attackers pounded on the front door screaming and attempted to gain entry by force. When I opened the door, several of them had already climbed over the wall onto the property. They searched the entire house, took my private lapotop, and demanded that I come to the Asayiş’ station to pick it up again. I told them that this was a criminal act and that I would not set foot in their station. They later turned the damaged laptop over to a fellow party member.«

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KURDWATCH, August 21, 2015—On August 19, 2015, ten civilians and three employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), were killed by a car bomb in al‑Qamishli. The bomb exploded near an Asayiş station. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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KURDWATCH, August 21, 2015—On August 17, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released Kurdish National Council member Mahmud ʿUje. ʿUje was kidnapped onJuly 26, from his workplace at a broker’s office in al‑Hasakah [further information]. At the time, the Asayiş told the family that it knew nothing about Mahmud ʿUje’s whereabouts. ʿUje told to KurdWatch: »I was questioned about the Rojava Peshmerga. I was accused of recruiting young men to join them.«

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KURDWATCH, August 20, 2015—On July 16, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Husayn Ramzi, a member of the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), in front of his house in al‑Qamishli. Ramzi was held in a prison in ʿAmudah until August 13, 2015. There he was interrogated about the possibility of the Rojava Peshmerga, stationed in Iraqi-Kurdistan, marching into the Kurdish regions of Syria [further information].

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KURDWATCH, August 20, 2015—On August 15, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) attacked positions held by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) south of Tall Hamis. The site is located nearly forty kilometers south of al‑Qamishli. Positions south of Tall Birak, approximately thirty kilometers west of Tall Hamis, were also attacked. The YPG was able to fend off the attacks.

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KURDWATCH, August 19, 2015—On August 10, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped the chemistry student Azad ʿAbdo Ijo at a checkpoint in ad‑Darbasiyah. Ijo is a member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). Asayiş employees assured his father that he was not forcibly recruited; yet, they did not give a reason for his kidnapping.

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KURDWATCH, August 19, 2015—On August 11, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), fired shots into the air in front of the office of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) in al‑Qamishli. The Yekîtî condemned the action as an attempt to intimidate its party members and the population.

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KURDWATCH, August 15, 2015—On August 10, 2015, fifty-year-old Najd Husayn ʿAnz (married, four children) was killed by a stray bullet while sleeping on the roof of his house in al‑Qamishli. Armed members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) had fired into the air only a few streets away. They were reportedly expressing their joy over the formation of a new commando unit of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG).

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KURDWATCH, August 15, 2015—According to eyewitness reports, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Jandar Shirnakhi, a journalist for the Iraqi-Kurdish television station Kurdistan‑TV, on July 26, 2015 from a soccer field in al‑Qamishli. In response to questions from his relatives, Asayiş employees stated that they knew nothing about his whereabouts. Shirnakhi was released on August 13, 2015.

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KURDWATCH, August 15, 2015—On August 7, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Ibrahim Sultan Khalil (married, one child) from a bus while he was traveling from al‑Qamishli to Tall Abyad. The background to the kindapping is not yet clear.

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KURDWATCH, August 12, 2015—On July 27, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Mizgin Muhammad Ramadan (married, three children) from his home in al‑Qamishli. Ramadan is a member of the Cooperation of Shaykh Maʿshuq Khaznawi, a youth organization with close ties to the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) and a member of the Kurdish National Council. Ramadan was released six days later.

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KURDWATCH, August 12, 2015—On August 1, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped young men trying to pass through checkpoints in the cities of al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, and ad‑Darbasiyah. They are reportedly being recruited for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) [download report on forcible recruitment]. According to eyewitness reports, more than seventy people were involved in al‑Qamishli alone. It is presumed that more than one hundred people were forcibly recruited on this day.

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KURDWATCH, August 12, 2015—On August 4, 2015, the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), called on the Iraqi-Kurdish television station Rûdaw and the Syrian opposition station Orient News to return any work permits that were handed outas well as all press cards within two days. The stations are accused of systematically spreading lies. Rûdaw employees in particular have repeatedly been subjected to PYD repression over the past two years [further information].

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KURDWATCH, August 10, 2015—On July 29, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Ibrahim ʿAbdulʿaziz Hasan (b. 1985 in al‑Malikiyah) from a public street in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). Hasan is a member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî).

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KURDWATCH, August 9, 2015—On August 1, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to expel all of the Islamic State (IS) fighters remaining in al‑Haskah.

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KURDWATCH, August 8, 2015—On July 29, 2015, Muhammad Ismaʿil, member of the politburo of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) stated in an interview with the Iraqi-Kurdish Rudaw television station that if the Turkish army marches into Syria, the Kurdish people should cooperate with the Syrian regime against Turkey. Kamiran Hajo, who is also a PDK‑S politburo member, informed KurdWatch that Ismaʿil had told him that he had never said this. He claims to have been mistranslated.

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KURDWATCH, August 8, 2015—In the future, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) could become part of the Syrian army. This was the opinion expressed by the PYD‑co-chairman Salih Muslim in an interview with the Arab daily newspaper al‑Hayat in Brussels and published on 26. July 2015. According to Muslim, however, the army’s mindset would need to change before this could happen. The army’s return to the Kurdish regions with a Baʿthist and intelligence mentality would not be acceptable. There would be no return to the past.

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KURDWATCH, July 31, 2015—Roniyar Hajji was born in 1981 in Halincê, a village near ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). His family later moved to Aleppo, where Hajji went to school. His father, who is also known as a poet under the pen name Dilsoz, was one of the first people in Aleppo to join the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). When he began to criticize the politics of the PKK and Abdullah Öcalan, whom he knew personally, the PKK planned his assassination. Moreover, his son Roniyar was supposed to be kidnapped, but the PKK accidentally picked up a classmate instead. The family subsequently left Aleppo for Damascus in 2000. Roniyar Hajji tells of the beginnings of the revolution in the Syrian capital and his problems with the PKK.

[Read more] 

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