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KurdWatch, June 24, 2016—On June 19, 2016, the website xeber24.org, which has close ties to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), published a June 18 statement from a to date unknown, armed organization called Çarçira. In it, Kurdish groups are accused of cooperating with the »the enemy«. The PYD administration and the Kurdish National Council in Syria are asked to reconsider their attitudes and behavior. Otherwise, they would be exterminated as collaborators.   

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KurdWatch, May 31, 2016—On May 24, 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Forces (YPG), launched an offensive to seize ar‑Raqqah, the provincial capital now controlled by the Islamic State (IS). The Syrian Democratic Forces were able to capture a number of villages near Tall Shahin, which lies thirty kilometers north of ar‑Raqqah. The attack was supported by US air strikes. According to eyewitness accounts the offensive was also accompanied by members of the US army. The news agency AFP photographed armed US soldiers on a pickup truck north of ar‑Raqqah. One of the soldiers wore an YPG insignia. According to official information provided by the US, there are around three hundred US American special forces in Syria working as consultants. 

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KurdWatch, December 31, 2015—On December 23, 2015, Turkish soldiers occupied a hill close to the Turkish–Syrian border near Sarmisakh (ten kilometers west of al‑Malikiya [Dêrik]). The army also advanced on Syrian territory near al‑Latifia (three kilometers east of al‑Qamishli). On December 24 and 25 a few dozen people protested near Samirsakh against the Turkish invasion.

In a press statement on December 24, the Kurdish National Council demanded from the Turkish government the withdrawal of its troops as well as the initiation of peace negotiations with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey. In a statement on December 26, the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria of Siamand Hajo demanded not only that Turkey withdraw its troops, but that  the PKK also pulls out of Syria. The invasion of Turkey was interpreted as the logical consequence of the presence of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria. On December 27, the recently established PYD‑dominated Council for a Democratic Syria [further information] condemned the Turkish intervention and the violation of Syrian territory.

On December 26, Turkey pulled some of its soldiers out of Sarmisakh.

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KurdWatch, December 31, 2015—On December 28, 2015, the people’s court of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in al‑Qamishli decided to release the journalist Faraydun Qicho (b. 1982, married, two children) from prison. Employees of the Asayiş, the PYD security service, had abducted Qicho on December 26 from his workplace in ʿAmuda. He works for the website Yekîtî Media of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). Qicho was transferred from ʿAmuda to al‑Qamishli, before he was released he spent a total of twenty-four hours in solitary confinement. It is still unclear whether the abduction is related to the hacker attack on Yekîtî Media [further information].

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KurdWatch, December 30, 2015—On December 27, 2015 the PYD‑affiliated Syrian Democratic Forces expelled Islamic State (IS) fighters from the strategically important area of Tishrin Dam (sixty kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî]). PYD‑affiliated forces therefore captured for the first time areas west of the Euphrates.   

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KurdWatch, December 30, 2015—On December 15 and 17, 2015 the Baʿath party of President Bashar al‑Assad could hold conferences of its local sections in the cities al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), Rumaylan, al‑Qamishli and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), which are controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Those gathered requested an improvement of the living situation in the respective cities and welcomed the support of the Syrian Army of the population in the al‑Hasakah province.

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KurdWatch, December 29, 2015—On December 8, 2015 employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed the office and work locations of the aid organization Bihar in ʿAfrin. According to the aid organization, the Asayiş took fifteen Bihar employees and four activists not employed by the organization. In addition, laptops, cameras and papers were taken. The next day the Asayiş abducted a physician, the owner of a hospital in ʿAfrin administered by Bihar. On December 16, the aid organization reported that the last of the twenty abductees had been released. Other sources have placed the number of kidnapped persons at twenty‑two, with the opposition member Barkhwadan Mustafa still at the mercy of the Asayiş. In a statement by the PYD‑apponited administration of the ʿAfrin canton, »contact to groups that are the enemies of the autonomous administration, spreading lies about the administration, and smuggling and re‑selling aid supplies« are the apparent reasons for the abductions. On its website, the aid organization said that its offices and health stations in ʿAfrin are closed until further notice for security reasons and that all aid programs are temporarily closed.

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KurdWatch, December 29, 2015—On December 16, 2015, the Iraqi‑Kurdish aid organization Barzani Charity Foundation distributed aid supplies to the needy in several cities in the Kurdish regions with the help of the Kurdish National Council. In Tall Tamr the Democratic Union Party (PYD) initially prohibited the distribution. Four members of the PYD’s Peoples's House requested of the Kurdish National Council that it remove the photos of Mulla Mustafa Barzani on the transport van and hand over a list of the families receiving aid. The Kurdish National Council first had to send the transport van back to al‑Qamischli. A few days later the aid could be distributed in Tall Tamr without the Kurdish National Council having to comply with the PYD demands. 

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KurdWatch, December 28, 2015—On December 21, 2015, the legislative council of the interim administration in the canton of Jazirah, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), published a draft media law. The draft law would enable extensive control of the print media, digital media, audio media and audiovisual media in Jazirah. The establishment of a »media council« is planned that would have far-reaching authority. The media council could not only summon journalists for a conversation at any time but has the right to make the journalists reveal their sources if asked. Provided that the media council can qualify journalistic statements as »false reports«, it can sentence to the author a heavy fine, ban employment and can freeze the medium in which the report was published, fixed or indefinitely. No independent court is involved in the matter. Moreover, the law foresees that all media, including Facebook pages, must be registered with the media council.

 

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KurdWatch, December 24, 2015—The Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), have detained Amir Murad, chief editor of the independent radio station »Hêvî« in al‑Qamischli since the early afternoon of December 22, 2015. Murad went to the Asayiş after employees of the security service turned up at his workplace in his absence to take him away. Initially, he was meant to be interrogated for only one hour; later the Asayiş declared that he would be freed after fourty-eight hours.

Activists on the ground assume that the kidnapping is meant to intimidate »Hêvî« employees. An activist backed this assumption to KurdWatch as follows: »On December 12 there was suddenly a false report on the radio website of Hêvî that the Asayiş leader, Jiwan Ibrahim, is dead. The Hêvî team immediately removed the message and made it known that its website has been hacked and they weren’t responsible for the news. Nevertheless, the PYD announced that it would hold Hêvî accountable in court. The crazy thing is that the website of Yekîtî‑Media, a site that has often criticized the PYD, was also hacked and the same news report was published. Supposedly, legal proceedings are also pending against Yekîtî‑Media. I think PYD hacked the sites and published the false report to have a pretext to act against Yekîtî-Media and Hêvî. It’s all about intimidation, nothing else.«

Currently Radio Hêvî has no control over its website. It was taken over by hackers.

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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. 

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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. 

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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].

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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KurdWatch, December 13, 2015—In November 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited a number of young men randomly off the street in the city of ʿAfrin. Furthermore, young men were also kidnapped from their homes and apartments, for example in Shadiyah, thirty kilometers northeast of ʿAfrin. On December 3, at least four men in the village of Saghnak, ten kilometers north of ʿAfrin were forcibly recruited.

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KurdWatch, December 13, 2015—On November 27, 2015, fighters for the Islamic factions Harakat Ahrar ash‑Sham al‑Islamiya and Ahrar Suriya gave the Democratic Union Party (PYD) a deadline of twenty-four hours to remove its militia, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), from the Aleppo city district of Shaikh Maqsud, which it controls. Between November 28 and December 3, 2015 the neighborhood was hit with ground‑to‑ground missiles. According to YPG information, four civilians were killed and dozens injured during the attacks. On December 3, the YPG signed an agreement with the Operations 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). In it, both sides committed to end all hostilities. The fighters of both parties should withdraw to their regions. Thus, the YPG continues to control Shaikh Maqsud.



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KurdWatch, December 13, 2015—On December 3, 4 and 7, 2015, employees of the Syrian regime's military police recruited young men for the Syrian army in the city center of al‑Qamishli. The city center is under the control of the regime and the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The exact number of people recruited is not known. It is also unclear whether Arabs as well as Kurds were recruited. Since the start of forcible recruitment by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the PYD in mid-2014, in the mainly Kurdish regions the regime has conscripted hardly any Kurds into the army. It is a different story in mixed cities such as al‑Hasakah.

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KurdWatch, December 13, 2015—On December 10, 2015, twenty‑eight people were killed in three bomb explosions in Tall Tamr, and more than a hundred were injured, several seriously hurt. All three bombs were placed in parked cars. One bomb exploded in a bustling marketplace, the second next to a center of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and the third at a PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) checkpoint. According to information provided by the Autonomous Democratic Administration, appointed by the Democratic Union Party, only civilians were killed. No further details were given on the identity of those injured.

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KurdWatch, December 12, 2015—On November 29, 2015 employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped the journalist Gulal Husayn Muhammad (known as Gulal Liani), from his parent’s house in al-Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). Liani works for the Syrian opposition station Orient News, whose functions were prohibited on August 4, 2015 by the Autonomous Democratic Administration, installed by the PYD [further information]. Barzan Muhammad, Liani’s brother, told KurdWatch: »We have information that the Asayiş took my brother to Rumaylan.«

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KurdWatch, December 11, 2015—During the bombing of areas close to the small city of al‑Hawl (fourty kilometers east of al‑Hasakah) by the US-led coalition on December 7, 2015, it was reported that up to twenty-six civilians were killed. A spokesperson for the coalition said that if this is proven to be true, a proper investigation will be conducted and the results made public. The area was captured at the beginning of November 2015 by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) [further information]. This military alliance cooperates with the coalition forces by providing coordinates which the coalition uses to organize air attacks on the Islamic State (IS). Arab activists accuse the YPG of abusing its position to retaliate against persons or groups critical of the PYD.

Human rights activists from the Tall Abyad region, as well captured by the YPG, confirmed to KurdWatch that the YPG also intimidated village residents in this area by threatening to pass on the coordinates of their villages to the military alliance. Amnesty International has raised similar charges.

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KurdWatch, December 11, 2015—In November 2015 KurdWatch asked the village chiefs and a select number of residents in seventy-seven villages of the Jazirah how many people have left since the beginning of the unrest in 2011. Fourteen villages are located near the area around ad-Darbasiya, seven around Abu Raʾsayn (Girbawi), eleven around Tall Tamr, sixteen around Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Sêrê Kaniyê), fifteen around ʾAmudah and fourteen around al‑Hasakah. Before March 2011, 38,616 people lived in the villages, and in November 2015, only 13,860 (36 per cent). A total of 64 per cent of the population has since fled. In the fourteen villages around al‑Hasaka, where the armed conflict happened, only 220 of 2,890 people still live there (barely 8 per cent).

According to information from the remaining population and the village chiefs, families and the elderly generally fled to Iraqi‑Kurdistan and Turkey, and young people to Europe. Generally speaking, there is a disproportionate number of elderly living in the villages. Also disproportionate is that the numbers of those who fled tend to be much higher amongst the Kurdish population compared to the Arab population. Today in many of the originally mixed Arab‑Kurdish villages, there are only Arab residents left. There are practically no Christians and Yazidis left in the villages.

The interviewed village residents from the region of al‑Hasakah said the continuing armed conflict is the main reason for why people fled. In the other regions, reasons given were the impossibility of farming without enough water or electricity, as well as, in the case of young men, the threat of forced recruitment to the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). Moreover, village residents reported that the PYD has completely cut of the electricity in some villages suspected of being critical of the party.

 

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KurdWatch, December 10, 2015—On December 5, 2015, the Kurdish National Council in ad-Darbasiyah organized a demonstration against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Around two hundred people participated in the demonstration with signs protesting the PYD’s school policies and forced recruitment as well as demanding the release of political prisoners of the PYD. Supporters of the PYD organized a counter-demonstration. Employees of the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service, ensured that the two groups remained at a distance. There were no clashes. However, two employees of the PYD affiliated news agency Hawar (ANHA) filmed the Kurdish National Council’s demonstration. According to activists this is not uncommon and is used by the PYD to identify participants of demonstrations.

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KurdWatch, December 8, 2015—On November 29, 2015 a bomb exploded in a parked car in the village of al‑Aghibsh (two kilometers west of Tall Tamr) near a check point of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG). According to the YPG, three of their fighters were injured. Reports that twelve YPG fighters were killed could not be confirmed.

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KurdWatch, December 8, 2015—In an interview on December 6, 2015 with the Sunday Times, the Syrian president, Bashar al‑Assad, dismissed British Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that there are 70,000 moderate Syrian rebels by declaring that there aren’t even 7,000 or even 10 moderates. On the question of how he would assess the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Kurds, he said: »The Kurds are fighting the terrorists with the Syrian army, in the same areas. [...] We sent them armaments, because they are Syrian citizens, and they want to fight terrorism. We do the same with many other groups in Syria, because you cannot send the army to every part of Syria.« Since the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) is the only armed Kurdish group in Syria, he can only be referring to the PYD when he says »the Kurds«.   

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KurdWatch, December 7, 2015—On November 24, 2015, two unknown persons demanded that taxi driver Sulayman ʿUthman Sulayman, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party—Syria (PDK‑S), drive them from ʿAmuda to the village of Dudan near the Turkish border. A few kilometers outside the city, they forced Sulayman to stop the car, blindfolded him at gunpoint and beat him up. Sulayman told KurdWatch: »The kidnappers hit me and threatened to kill me if I criticized the PYD again.«

The day before, there was an altercation between Sulayman and two employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). An Asayiş car drove in front of Sulayman’s taxi and he honked the horn to signal that the vehicle should get out of the way. A verbal confrontation followed and Sulayman was taken to the Asayiş station. An hour later he was released.

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KurdWatch, December 3, 2015—According to the PYD‑affiliated news agency Hawar (ANHA), Turkish soldiers fired at the city of Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî) with light firearms for several hours during the night of November 19 to 20, 2015. Since October 24, ANHA has reported numerous attacks by the Turkish army on positions held by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG): On October 24 on ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî), on October 30, November 11 and 17 on locations west of the city of Raʾs al-ʿAin (Serê Kaniyê), on October 25, 27, and 29 as well as November 17 on YPG positions in Tall Abyad. There were no deaths or injuries reported since the PYD, in order to avoid an escalation, did not return fire. Independent acknowledgments of these events are not available.

The Turkish government said it bombed the YPG near Jarabulus when the latter attempted to advance on the city. Jarabulus is located between Kobanî and ʿAfrin and the area around it is strategically important for the YPG: If the YPG gained control of this area, it would connect the overwhelmingly Kurdish enclaves of Kobanî and ʿAfrin. Since the capture of Tall Abyad, the YPG would then control a continuous area reaching from ʿAyn Diwar to ʿAfrin.

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KurdWatch, December 3, 2015—After the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) captured the city of Tall Abyad in June 2015, Bashar al‑Hussayn, a mechanic, was arrested on the grounds that he had placed explosives in cars for the Islamic State (IS). In a panel discussion for the Orient news channel on September 28, 2015, ʿUmar Alush, who is politically responsible for Tall Abyad and a long‑standing cadre of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), said that al‑Hussayn is innocent and would be set free. At the beginning of November 2015 the activist Subhi Sukkar finally met Alush in Urfa. Sukkar enquired about the pending release of al‑Hussayn. Alush responded: »Al‑Hussayn is innocent but we can’t just release him after [the human rights activist] Ahmad Haj Salih publicly discussed the case on TV. It would look like we let ourselves be pressured. As a result, he will be released at a later date.« 

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KurdWatch, December 1, 2015—From November 20 to 24, 2015, the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria held its fourteenth party congress in al‑Qamishli, where ʿAbdulhamid Hajji Darwish was once again elected secretary. Hajji Darwish, who co‑founded the party in 1957, has held this position since 1970. The congress also decided that the Progressive Party will leave the Kurdish National Council. The congress’s closing statement additionally announced an initiative to form a center for Kurdish political decisions, which would include parties and political powers from both within and outside of the Kurdish National Council. Furthermore, the central committee was tasked with developing new approaches to dealing with the Autonomous Democratic Administration, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).  

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KurdWatch, November 30, 2015—On November 20, 2015, the Kurdish National Council conducted a demonstration in al‑Hasakah against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Approximately one hundred participants protested against forcible recruitment, the education policy, the illegal appropriation of real estate, as well as totalitarian rule in the Kurdish regions more generally. Employees of the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service, attacked demonstrators and dispersed the rally. Fasla Yusif, deputy chairperson of the Kurdish National Council and politburo member of Kamiran Hajj ʿAbdo’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) told the media that the Asayiş severely insulted and beat up demonstration participants—both men and women alike. According to Yusif, some of the attackers were reportedly members of the Asayiş, but wearing civilian clothes. At the request of the organizers, only people over the age of forty took part in the demonstrations so that young people would not be forcibly recruited.

Yusif also reported that two Asayiş employees had refused to attack demonstrators. They offered Yusif protection until the situation had calmed down. 

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KurdWatch, November 30, 2015—On November 13, 2015, several hundred supporters of the Kurdish National Council accompanied the bodies of three Rojava Peshmerga killed by the Islamic State (IS) during the liberation of Sinjar (Iraqi‑Kurdistan) from the Faysh Khabur border crossing near al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) towards al‑Qamishli. The funeral march was stopped at several checkpoints run by the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), so that it didn’t reach al-Qamishli until late in the evening. According to eyewitness reports, numerous young men were forcibly recruited at checkpoints.

On November 14, two of the dead were buried in ʿAmudah and one in al‑Qamishli. The Asayiş warned the residents of the city of ʿAmudah in advance that they should not participate in any sort of rally. They allegedly had information that a car bomb was to be detonated in the city. The Asayiş kidnapped numerous people from the funeral marches on November 13 and from the funeral marches and burial on November 14. These people reportedly stand accused of participation in an unauthorized demonstration. The Kurdish National Council published the names of a total of fifteen people who were kidnapped or forcibly recruited in connection with the funeral.  

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KurdWatch, November 29, 2015—On November 4, 2015, members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) recruited underage Maisaʾ Muhyiddin Akirman (b. 2002 in ʿAmudah) in front of her school in ʿAmudah. Classmates told her family that Maisaʾ left the school with members of the PYD. That same day, relatives protested in front of a station run by the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service, demanding the girl’s return but to no avail. A visit to the PYD’s Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) was also unsuccessful—the YPJ denied knowing anything about the girl’s whereabouts. Further inquiries by the family revealed that their daughter is in a YPJ camp near al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik).

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KurdWatch, November 28, 2015—On November 25, 2015, Turkish military helicopters flew over the Kurdish regions around the cities of al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa) and Rumaylan as well several nearby oil fields. The oil fields are operated by the Syrian government and are protected by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). In a statement that same day, the General Command of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) threatened to attack the helicopters should this happen again. 

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KurdWatch, November 25, 2015—On November 11, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Ibrahim Yusuf Farho (married, four children) at a checkpoint in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). That same day, Farho, a member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), had taken part in a Kurdish National Council demonstration, which he had also filmed.  

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KurdWatch, November 23, 2015—On November 17, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) conducted a rally in al‑Qamishli. According to the PYD affiliated Hawar (ANHA) news agency, approximately two hundred participants protested against the »massacre against the Kurdish population in Turkey« committed by the Turkish government. There were no signs or banners, but many flags of organizations with ties to the PYD were displayed. 

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KurdWatch, November 23, 2015—On November 20, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), picked up the journalist Jindar Barakat at an internet café in al-Hasakah. Shortly before this, Barakat, who works for the Yekîtî Media website of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), had recorded a demonstration critical of the PYD. He was released three hours later. His laptop, which had been confiscated, was returned; however, all data had been erased. His cell phone was not returned. 

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KurdWatch, November 20, 2015—On November 13, 2015, the Kurdish National Council in al‑Qamishli conducted a demonstration against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Participants carried signs protesting the education policy, forcible recruitment, the illegal appropriation of real estate, as well as totalitarian rule in the Kurdish regions more generally. Approximately one thousand people took part in the event. Employees of the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service, forcibly recruited numerous young men in the side streets during the demonstration.

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KurdWatch, November 20, 2015—In commemoration of the ʿAmudah cinema fire that killed several hundred school children on November 13, 1960, the Ministry of Culture for the transitional administration of the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), held a symposium for painters. Eighteen artists from the canton met in ʿAmudah’s »Park of Martyrs,« which is located on the site of the former cinema. The Kurdish National Council held a commemorative event on November 12, 2015 in ʿAmudah to mark the same occasion. Approximately two hundred people took part in the rally. No incidents were reported.

To this day, most of the Kurdish parties in Syria assume that the cinema fire was an attack by the Syrian government; however, KurdWatch’s research does not support this interpretation [download report]

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KurdWatch, November 19, 2015—On November 12, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) conducted a demonstration in al‑Qamishli. Participants carried signs expressing their support for the PYD’s education policy. They also opposed the recent PYD‑critical demonstrations organized by the Kurdish National Council in several places [further information]. One sign glorifying Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned chairman of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), read: »A thousand times yes to the curriculum and to the philosophy and ideology of Leader Apo.« Another sign read: »Shame on the Kurdish National Council.« Elementary school children, some of them in military uniform, led the protest march. 

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KurdWatch, November 19, 2015—On November 11, 2015, Talal ʿAli Silo, press spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the capture of the village of al‑Khatuniyah, approximately fifty kilometers east of al‑Hasakah, and the lake of the same name. Silo also stated that since the Syrian Democratic Forces began operations against the Islamic State (IS) [further information], the IS has been expelled from fifty villages east of al‑Hasakah. Information from the US Army supports this claim.

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KurdWatch, November 19, 2015—On October 26, 2015, Faysal Mustafa Hajjano set himself on fire in protest after his previous attempts to see his daughter (b. 1984), who joined the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) Women’s Defense Units (YPJ), had failed. His protest took place in front of the head office of the PYD‑appointed transitional administration for the canton of Kobanî in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). An activist told KurdWatch that fighters for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) had insulted and abused the man, who also has two sons serving with the YPG. Faysal Mustafa Hajjano succumbed to his injuries in a hospital in Turkey on November 1. ʿIsmat Shaykh Hasan, chair of the defense committee for the transitional administration of Kobanî, described Hajjano as a »madman« to the radio station Voice of America.

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KurdWatch, November 17, 2015—On November 9, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Kawa Ismaʿil and Mahmud Liyani from the internet café Ismaʿil runs in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). Four hours later the two were released several kilometers outside of the city. They had been blindfolded and tortured, and their cell phones had been confiscated. Kawa Ismaʿil is a member of the Kurdish National Council and the Kurdish Youth Movement. Mahmud Liani is a member of the Kurdish Youth Movement.  

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KurdWatch, November 17, 2015—On November 7, 2015, in al-Malikiyah, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), questioned Muhammad ʿAli, member of the politburo of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK-S), the PDK-S members Base ʿAbdi and ʿUmar Ismaʿil, as well as Fadi Marʿi, who is a member of Narin Matini’s Kurdish Future Movement in Syria about the recent demonstrations critical of the PYD. They were threatened with kidnapping should they organize demonstrations without authorization from the PYD administration. 

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KurdWatch, November 17, 2015—On November 9, 2015, supporters of the Kurdish National Council demonstrated against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). It was the fourth demonstration critical of the PYD to be held in the PYD‑controlled territories within a week. The PYD organized a counter demonstration at the same location. PYD supporters attacked several Kurdish National Council demonstrators, and the Asayiş, the PYD security service, did not intervene. The PYD-affiliated Hawar (ANHA) news agency later claimed that participants in the Kurdish National Council demonstration had beaten one other. After the incidents, the Kurdish National Council changed the route of its demonstration.

Employees of the Asayiş searched numerous demonstrators on the opposing side and confiscated their cell phones. Journalists were prevented from recording the demonstration. A journalist for the television station ARK TV, which has close ties to the Democratic Party Kurdistan – Syria (PDK-S), was beaten and his camera was stolen.

While the demonstration was taking place, the Asayiş were also forcibly recruiting young men for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) nearby. 

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KurdWatch, November 14, 2015—According to a November 4, 2015 report by the Hawar (ANHA) news agency, which has close ties to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, ʿAbdulhamid Hajji Darwish, recently traveled to Sulaymaniyah; while there he visited with representatives of the transitional administration appointed by PYD for the territories under its control. At the meeting, he reportedly stated that the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) exercise legitimate military force in »Rojava« (Syrian-Kurdistan), and his party is against any military group that does not align itself with the YPG. That same day, the Progressive Party denied this version of events. According to the Progressive Party, the only thing ʿAbdulhamid Hajji Darwish said in Sulaymaniyah was that in order for the YPG to truly represent the Kurdish people, the PYD must stop trying to rule the people alone.

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KurdWatch, November 12, 2015—On November 7, 2015, the Kurdish National Council conducted a demonstration in al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa) against the education policy of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information]. Approximately one thousand people took part in the event. Employees of the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service, blocked the demonstrators’ path, and for a moment it seemed as though the situation might escalate. However, several demonstration participants called for everyone to keep calm and turn around; the protest march then turned back. During the demonstration, employees of the Asayiş searched numerous people and confiscated their cell phones. 

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KurdWatch, November 9, 2015—On September 1, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) forcibly recruited numerous young men at random from the streets in al‑Qamishli. Recruiting took place on Sabʿ Bahrat Square in the center of al‑Qamishli and elsewhere. On November 4, a number of young men were recruited in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). The exact number of people forcibly recruited is not available.

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KurdWatch, November 8, 2015—At a press conference in al‑Qamishli on October 16, 2015, Redur Khalil, the press spokesperson of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), said that PYD co‑chairman Salih Muslim’s statement that the YPG had received weapons from the international coalition was »just his opinion«. According to Khalil, Muslim had been outside of his competence and spoken about things of which he had no information. Muslim had previously confirmed to the press that the US had dropped fifty tons of munitions for the YPG to aid in the fight against the Islamic State (IS), and additional weapons deliveries were expected. YPG spokesperson Khalil gave no statements regarding what happened to the arms dropped over al‑Hasakah province, instead referring to official statements from Washington.

Spokespeople for the US Department of Defense had corrected their original statements and said that the deliveries were only intended for Arab groups and had reached their intended target. The denials can be understood as showing deference to Turkish sensitivities [further information].

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KurdWatch, November 8, 2015—After representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and spokespeople for the US military had originally confirmed that weapons and ammunition dropped over al‑Hasakah province on October 11 [further information] had been secured by the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG), both sides subsquently retracted this statement. The Pentagon stated that the delivery was intended solely for Arab groups and that there were no indications that it ended up in the possession of other groups. However, representatives of Arab units within the Syrian Democratic Forces [further information], which is dominated by the YPG, denied having received any weapons or ammunition, nor were they aware of any other militia that had been armed aside from »perhaps our partner, the Kurds«.Turkey had previously warned both the US and Russia that a further expansion of Kurdish influence along its border would not be tolerated. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also threatened the PYD with consequences should the weapons delivered by the Americans end up in the hands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

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KurdWatch, November 8, 2015—On October 31, 2015, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a new military alliance that is dominated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information], announced the start of an offensive »to liberate the southern regions of al‑Hasakah province«. On November 1, fighters for the Syrian Democratic Forces attacked the Islamic State (IS) near al‑Hawl, approximately forty kilometers east of al‑Hasakah. The advance on the village, which is located approximately fifteen kilometers from the Syrian‑Iraqi border, was supported by air strikes by the US‑led coalition.   

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KurdWatch, November 8, 2015—On October 27, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), confiscated rolls of fabric with camouflage patterns from numerous stores in ad-Darbasiyah. The move was justified on the grounds that the fabrics were being sold to the Islamic State (IS).

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KurdWatch, November 8, 2015—On November 3, 2015, approximately four hundred people took part in a rally held by the Kurdish National Council in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The protesters carried posters opposing the education policy of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information]. Employees of the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service, surrounded the protesters. Numerous participants were searched, and journalists were prevented from recording the rally. Furthermore, no loudspeakers could be used for the event.

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KurdWatch, November 7, 2015—On November 3, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), refused to allow several members of the Kurdish National Council to cross into Iraqi‑Kurdistan at the Faysh Khabur border that crosses east of al-Malikiyah (Dêrik). Ibrahim Biro, chairman of the National Council, was part of the group. In a statement released the same day, the Kurdish National Council called the incident »unjustifiable«.

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KurdWatch, November 7, 2015—On November 3, 2015, the ruling Baʿth party conducted a rally on Sabʿ Bahrat Square in al‑Qamishli’s security zone, where the offices of the various Syrian intelligence services are located. Those gathered observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Russian passenger plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula.

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KurdWatch, November 7, 2015—On November 4, 2015, an explosive device attached to a parked motorcycle was detonated near one of the administrative buildings of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). A civilian woman was injured. 

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KurdWatch, November 5, 2015—On October 28, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), gave the members of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), a period of twenty‑four hours to close their office in Tall Tamr. On October 29, the building was surrounded and all those present were ordered to leave the premises under threat of violence. The Asayiş then locked the office. The measure was justified on the grounds that the organization lacked authorization from the PYD’s transitional administration. 

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KurdWatch, November 4, 2015—On October 29, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), gave Kolîşîna, an independent women’s organization in Tall Tamr, a period of twenty-four hours to close its office. The next day, the Asayiş forced the organization’s employees to leave the office and subsequently locked the premises. The measure was justified by the fact that the organization lacked PYD‑authorization. 

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KurdWatch, November 4, 2015—On October 31, 2015, the transitional administration of the canton of Kobanî, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), declared November 1 to be a public holiday and »International Kobanî Day.« On November 1, the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), which is under PYD control, organized rallies in ʿAfrin and ʿAmudah to mark the occasion. Between two and three thousand people took part in each event. 

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KurdWatch, October 31, 2015—On October 28, 2015, the press office of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) announced the formation of a committee to address the problem of the recruitment of minors. As a result of the committee’s work, twenty-one underage recruits were reportedly released from service and returned to their families. Names were not provided. KurdWatch spoke with several families whose minor children had been recruited by the YPG. None of them were among those released.  

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KurdWatch, October 31, 2015—On October 27, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) stormed several liquor stores in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). The attackers destroyed bottles containing alcoholic beverages as well as refrigerators. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, the background to this attack is an incident in which several drunken YPG fighters injured themselves with a hand grenade. 

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KurdWatch, October 31, 2015—On October 22, 2015, approximately twenty students and their relatives protested in al‑Qamishli's western district against the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) decision to dismiss them from Christian schools. The students demanded to be allowed to return to their classes. 

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KurdWatch, October 30, 2015—On October 21, 2015, seventeen Christian organizations operating in al-Hasakah province, including eight churches, condemned the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). According to a joint statement: »The law on administering the funds of those who are absent or have emigrated [further information] is in conflict with the principles of human rights and civil rights. The right to private property is a sacred right, and the attempt to designate emigrants as traitors to patriotism and the nation is unacceptable. […] Such a law represents a demographic threat to Christians in the Jazirah.« 

The PYD’s forcible recruitments [download report] were also criticized: »It is intolerable that citizens in this country are being forcibly recruited by two different sides at the same time.« On education policy [further information], the statement says: »Interference in the affairs of the Christian schools in the Jazirah is unfounded and unacceptable.«

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KurdWatch, October 29, 2015—On October 26, 2015, the Kurdish National Council organized a rally in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Approximately two thousand people took part in the event. The speakers denounced the PYD’s education policy in particular [further information].

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KurdWatch, October 29, 2015—On October 26, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited several young men from the streets of al‑Hasakah. Exact information on the number of people recruited is not available. 

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KurdWatch, October 26, 2015—On October 10, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) joined together with a Christian militia and a coalition of Arab units to form a new alliance called the »Syrian Democratic Forces« in order to cooperate in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). In mid- October, the US supported the alliance with weapons [further information].

The Arab units, which operate as the »Syrian Arab Coalition«, are primarily militias that have previously cooperated with the YPG. They include, for example, the Sanadid Forces, a Shammar tribal militia, as well as units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that fought alongside the YPG as part of the Burkan al-Furat (»Volcano of the Euphrates«) coalition [further information].

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KurdWatch, October 26, 2015—On October 19, 2015, Kurdish students at Christian schools in al‑Qamishli brought home notices informing their parents that they should no longer send their children to school. An employee of the al‑Hurriyah school told KurdWatch: »The PYD‑administration gave us the choice of either teaching Kurdish children in Kurdish and using the PYD’s teaching materials or dismissing Kurdish students from the school«.

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KurdWatch, October 26, 2015—On October 21, 2015, the city of Tall Abyad’s Council of Elders [further information], which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), decided to annex the city and the surrounding areas to the canton of Kobanî, which was established by the PYD. The decision was justified on the grounds of on geographical proximity. The council members – ten Arabs, three Kurds, an Armenian and a Turkmen – hold their meeting next to a photo of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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KurdWatch, October 21, 2015—After taking over Tall Abyad, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) appointed a council of elders to help it administer the city and the surrounding areas. Arab activists accuse its members of being »PYD puppets«. Many members are also criticized for having close ties to the regime. »The Arab members of the council are not representing their tribes,« activist Ahmad Hajj Salih told KurdWatch. Another activist, Subhi Sukkar, said that the council of elders is not recognized »by the Arab side« and also has no decision-making authority. According to Sukkar, »The YPG [the PYD’s People’s Defense Units] and PYD have sole military and political control.«

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KurdWatch, October 20, 2015—Between October 13 and 16, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited numerous young men at random from the streets in al‑Qamishli, ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) as well as other cities in the Kurdish regions. In al‑Qamishli, Muhammad Hasan was shot by the Asayiş as he tried to escape being forcibly recruited. Hasan was admitted to the hospital with bullet wounds. 

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KurdWatch, October 20, 2015—On October 13, 2015, the Kurdish National Council released a statement calling on all »Kurdistani forces« as well as the international community to put an end to the »irresponsible behavior of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)«. The behaviors named in the statement include »causing hunger, restrictions in all areas of life, forcible recruitments at gunpoint, persecution, arrests, the confiscation of homes and [other] property as well as the forced implementation of an ideological curriculum.«

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KurdWatch, October 20, 2015—Arab activists believe that the release of forty‑four people being held by the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on October 5, 2015 in Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî) [further information] was nothing more but a PR move. The activist Ahmad Haj Salih told KurdWatch: »The people who were released were only arrested so that the PYD could later release them. One prisoner, who spent seventy‑nine days in jail, wasn’t questioned even once. He never learned why he was arrested or why he was released. The detainees either weren’t questioned at all or were asked ridiculous questions. Many prisoners reported that there were no normal interrogations. Instead they were asked only one or two brief questions during their entire time in custody, such as whether they support the IS or know anyone who does.« Salih believes that the PYD only arrested those who have now been released so that they could later claim that people were released from custody if they were above suspicion. He also told KurdWatch that a total of around one thousand eight hundred people from Tall Abyad and the surrounding area remain in PYD prisons in Tall Abyad, Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) and ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî). Torture is reportedly used regularly in interrogations. 

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KurdWatch, October 16, 2015—According to reports by various news agencies, the US provided Syrian opposition groups with ammunition and weapons, which were dropped in the province of al‑Hasakah early this week. The weapons were reportedly intended for the newly founded »Syrian Democratic Forces«, of which the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) is the most important member. After giving up plans to establish its own Syrian military force, the US now intends to support a troop of more than 20,000 Kurds and up to 5,000 Arabs in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). The goal is to capture the IS stronghold of ar‑Raqqah in northern Syria.

The US has already conducted air strikes to support the YPG in the fight against the IS in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî). In connection with this, Amnesty International has accused the YPG of severe human rights violations against Arab civilians.

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KurdWatch, October 16, 2015—On October 13, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), tried to stop a vehicle at a checkpoint on a busy street in ʿAmudah. When the driver failed to stop, the Asayiş fired at the car. Three pedestrians and a shop owner, Husayn Jaghir, were injured. Jaghir succumbed to his injuries in the hospital the following day. There has been no investigation of the incident.

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KurdWatch, October 16, 2015—On October 13, 2015, a device attached to a motorcycle exploded in the Kurnish district in al-Qamishli. The explosion occurred near a vehicle belonging to the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). An Asayiş employee was killed, and three more were injured. The background to the attack is not yet known.

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KurdWatch, October 16, 2015—On October 12, 2015, approximately one hundred people gathered on the main street in ʿAmudah to protest the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) education policy [further information]. The participants carried banners calling for the reintroduction of the subjects of English and Arabic. With the slogan »Don’t bring your political differences to our schools,« protesters also demanded the separation of politics and education.

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KurdWatch, October 13, 2015—On October 8, 2015, employees of the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), set a forty‑eight‑hour deadline for owners of shops and workshops in the industrial area of al‑Qamishli to apply to re‑register their businesses. A workshop owner told KurdWatch: »When I asked the PYD about registration, they demanded twenty thousand Syrian lira from me. That’s fraud. My business has been registered for fifteen years.« Twenty thousand Syrian lira is currently around fifty euros. The required fees are reportedly dependent on the size of the operation, but no clear policies are available. KurdWatch knows of business people who have had to pay as much as seventy‑five thousand Syrian lira while others with good relationships with the transitional administration have received »discounts«.

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KurdWatch, October 13, 2015—According to a report by the Lebanese daily al‑Akhbar on October 9, 2015, representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) recently held talks with Syrian government representatives in Damascus. On October 9, they traveled to Latakia to meet with representatives of the Russian military.  The talks reportedly revolved around Russia’s desire for a joint offensive by the Russian army, the Syrian army, and the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) against the Islamic State (IS).  

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KurdWatch, October 13, 2015—On October 10, the Iraqi‑Kurdish Rudaw news station announced on its website that part of the Rojava Peshmerga [further information] will arrive in Syrian-Kurdistan this month. The Rojava Peshmerga will reportedly fight in a combined unit with fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The source of this information was not provided. 

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KurdWatch, October 10, 2015—On October 6, 2015, the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), orally decreed that all Arab refugees who have fled to the Kurdish regions that it administers should either leave these areas or move to refugee camps. According KurdWatch’s research, a written decree to this effect does not yet exist. KurdWatch suspects that the refugees are being expelled with the goal of confiscating the resulting empty homes. Many homes rented to Arab refugees belong to Kurds who have fled the country. Thus far the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria is the only party to protest the planned measures. Its spokesman Jiyan ʿUmar gave an interview to this effect to the Orient news station on October 7.

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KurdWatch, October 10, 2015—On October 5, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released forty‑four Arabs in Tall Abyad. According to the PYD‑affiliated Hawar news agency, interrogations provided no indications that they had been involved in crimes against »society and citizens«. Among those released were also people from Dayr az‑Zawr and ar‑Raqqah. The release occurred as part of talks between the PYD‑controlled Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) and a sort of council of elders comprised of Arab tribal leaders. The goal of the talks is to agree upon shared administration of the city. The fact that Kurds do not form the majority of citizens in Tall Abyad makes it difficult for the PYD to rule the city alone.

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KurdWatch, October 10, 2015—On October 3, 2015, thirteen Kurdish organizations from Syria as well as numerous writers and activists—including quite a few people in exile—issued a statement criticizing the education policy of the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). By October 5, the statement had nearly one hundred ninety signatures. It calls for a reintroduction of English and Arabic, as well as hiring only trained teachers. It also demands that schoolchildren no longer be separated according to ethnic background.

The background to the protest is the PYD’s decision to cut Arabic and English instruction for the first three grades of elementary school. These grades are taught exclusively in Kurdish. In grades four through six, instruction continues to be given in Arabic. Kurdish has been a secondary subject for several years [further information]. Many parents reject the decision to cut Arabic and other foreign language instruction. Several families have tried to send their children to schools in predominantly Arab districts, because the PYD’s »school reforms« do not apply there. The PYD put an end to this. 

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KURDWATCH, October 9, 2015—On September 28, 2015, the fifty‑five‑year‑old Arab activist Ayman al‑Humaydi at‑Tahari died at a hospital in the city of Tall Abyad, which is controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). On September 23, fighters for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped at‑Tahari and his fifty‑year‑old nephew ʿAdil al‑Balikh at‑Tahari from his home in the village of Huwayjat al‑ʿAbd, eight kilometers south of Tall Abyad. Another of at‑Tahari’s nephews, Subhi Sukir, told KurdWatch: »They were both held in solitary cells. Ayman is diabetic, but in order to put pressure on him, the YPG did not give him his medication. He became very ill and when he lost consciousness, they brought him to the hospital on the night of September 27. He died there a few hours later on September 28.« According to information from the family, the body showed signs of torture on the neck and the left shoulder. ʿAdil al‑Balikh at‑Tahari was released on September 28.

Ayman al‑Humaydi at‑Tahari was the founder and commander of a battalion of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The battalion was financed by at‑Tahari and stationed in Huwayjat al‑ʿAbd to protect the population of his home village. Relations with the local Kurdish population were good. Conflicts with the YPG arose because the YPG rejected the battalion’s presence in territory under its control. The YPG’s stance on military units that challenge its absolute rule is well known in the Kurdish regions, where the YPG has attacked numerous Kurdish units of the FSA as well as military units of other Kurdish parties [download report].

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KURDWATCH, October 9, 2015—On October 5, 2015, a large explosion occurred at a gas station in al‑Qamishli’s security zone, where the offices of various Syrian intelligence services are located. It is unclear whether the explosion was an accident or an attack. There were no reports of fatalities or injuries. 

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KURDWATCH, October 7, 2015—On October 2, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS), detonated three car bombs near positions held by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units approximately thirty‑five kilometers southwest of the city of al‑Hasakah near the Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz (Çiyayê Kezwan). A total of four YPG fighters were reportedly killed. Another car bomb exploded at the edge of the village of al‑Aghibsh, two kilometers west of Tall Tamr, killing ten people—among them both YPG fighters and civilians. Seven additional people were injured. IS fighters subsequently launched an attack on YPG positions on the Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz. The fighting continued until October 3.  

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KURDWATCH, October 7, 2015—On September 28, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units opened a road in Aleppo between the Shaykh Maqsud district and the government‑controlled ash‑Shahbaʾ district, providing the Syrian regime with an additional supply route. At the same time, the YPG blocked a road between Aleppo and ʿAfrin that the opposition uses to access the north. Sharpshooters were also stationed along the route. Units of the Islamist Labbayki Uktah operation center stationed in Shaykh Maqsud have since withdrawn from the district. On October 2, missiles once again hit Shaykh Maqsud. The predominantly Arab district of Salahuddin was also shelled. Salahuddin is controlled by the Jabbat an‑Nusrah and other Islamist opposition groups. The opposition blames the YPG for the shelling. On October 1, several hundred young demonstrators in Salahuddin called for liberation from the YPG. 

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KURDWATCH, October 5, 2015—On September 22, 2015, four unknown persons kidnapped Farhad Anwar Mustafa (b. 1989 in ʿAfrin), coordinator of the local committee of the Kurdish Youth Movement, in ʿAfrin. The Kurdish Youth Movement is a member of the Kurdish National Council. Mustafa’s family members suspect that the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), is responsible for the kidnapping. As in other cases, the Asayiş has thus far denied its involvement to the family. 

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KURDWATCH, October 1, 2015—At the beginning of the 2015/2016 school year, the education authority in al‑Hasakah decreed that grades one through three at elementary schools in the province would remain closed. Instruction will only be offered in the higher grades. An elementary school teacher from al‑Qamishli told KurdWatch: »The reason for closing the first three grades is that the PYD wanted instruction there to take place in Kurdish.« For three years, the Baʿth regime has allowed the schools to offer two hours of Kurdish instruction per week. Now the PYD wants to teach all subjects in the first through third grades in Kurdish. The PYD’s plan to introduce a new subject called »Mothers’ Schools« in grades one through three has led to further conflict with the education authority in al‑Hasakah. The accompanying textbook is based on the ideology of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It includes numerous photos of Abdullah Öcalan and glorifies the imprisoned PKK chairman as a leader of the Kurds.

To date the Baʿth government continues to finance teachers’ salaries in the cantons of Jazirah, ʿAfrin, and Kobanî, which were established by the PYD. Teachers who violate the instructions of the Syrian education authority are subject to suspension. However, according to information obtained by KurdWatch, the PYD has forced some teachers to teach in violation of the authority’s decree.

The disagreements between the PYD and the regime have lead to considerable uncertainty for parents. On September 28, the first day of school after vacation, many elementary schools were reportedly almost empty. One reason why parents are not sending their children to school is that they reject the PYD’s political indoctrination. Another problem is that there are no teachers in Syria who are trained to teach in the Kurdish language.

Schools in the predominantly Arab districts and regions of al‑Hasakah province are not affected by the decree. 

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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2015—In early September 2015, the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), passed a law allowing the administration to take possession of vehicles, real estate, land, and cash assets belonging to Syrians who have fled the territory that it governs. The law is intended »to protect« this property and put it into »service of the population of the autonomous administration.« The confiscated possessions may be put to economic use with proceeds going to the administration. Those affected by the law may contest the confiscation of their property within one month of a notification to this effect. Property will not be confiscated if emigrants appoint first or second-degree relatives to administer it. Administrators who do not fall into this category are threatened with one year in prison and a fine of at least one million Syrian lira. If those affected by the law or their first or second-degree relatives return to the PYD‑controlled territories, they have the right to recover their property, but they have no rights to the proceeds generated in the interim. In mid‑September, employees of the transitional administration were observed locating potential objects in various districts of the city of al‑Qamishli.

In many cases, the law amounts to the dispossession of refugees, and it should be understood in the context of various PYD measures that seek to prevent people from fleeing the Kurdish regions. Already for some time, the PYD has been requiring residents in the territories it controls to obtain authorization from its security service, the Asayiş, if they want to travel abroad.  

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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2015—On September 27, 2015, Turkish soldiers opened fire on a group of refugees trying to cross the border into Turkey at Mustarihah near Raʾs al‑ʿAyn. One of the refugees, Sami al‑ʿUklah, was severely injured.

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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2015—On September 26, 2015, armed conflicts broke out between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and Islamic State (IS) fighters around thirty-five kilometers southwest of the city of al‑Hasakah at the edge of the Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz (Çiyayê Kezwan). IS fighters also tried to take over a checkpoint controlled by the Syrian regime two kilometers south of al-Hasakah.

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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2015—On September 21, 2015, fighters for the Jabhat an‑Nusrah, the Harakat Ahrar ash‑Sham al‑Islamiyah, and the Harakat Nuruddin az‑Zanki blocked all access roads to the predominantly Kurdish district of Shaykh Maqsud in Aleppo. Between September 24 and 26, positions held by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were attacked. Between September 26 and 28, several missiles hit residential buildings in the district. Two children were killed and more than ten civilians were injured. The attackers are part of the Labbayki Ukhtah operations center, an alliance of Islamist groups that reached an agreement with the PYD to divide control of the district in May 2015 [download document]. Evidently that agreement has failed. According to the PYD‑affiliated Hawar news agency, Islamic units have attacked with the goal of bringing a road between Aleppo and ʿAfrin that runs through Shaykh Maqsud under its control.

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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2015—On September 23, 2015, the co‑chairs of the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), signed the legislative council’s amnesty decree. The decree pardons people who were convicted by PYD courts and given sentences of less than five years. People who were convicted of narcotics offences; stealing, smuggling, or dealing in ancient artifacts; counterfeiting; smuggling; robbery; or collecting donations will have their total sentences reduced by thirty percent. All other offenders will receive a forty percent reduction of their sentences. Fugitive offenders can be pardoned if they report to the authorities within one month. People convicted of committing terrorist acts and prostitutes are excluded from the amnesty.

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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2015—On September 23, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), confiscated motorcycles at several checkpoints in al‑Qamishli. The motorcycles are to be returned once the owners have been issued new vehicle documents by the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Several radio stations reported that motorcycle owners had until September 28 to procure new papers.  

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KURDWATCH, September 29, 2015—On September 25 and 26, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) attacked positions held by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) near the village of Tall Birak, approximately thirty kilometers northeast of al-Hasakah. Information about potential victims is not available. 

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KURDWATCH, September 28, 2015—On September 20, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released ʿAbdurrahman Hasan. A member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), Hasan was kidnapped in ʿAfrin by the Asayiş on August 9, 2015. The background to the kidnapping has not yet been clarified. 

 

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KURDWATCH, September 28, 2015—On September 10, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped ʿUmar Salih ʿUmar at a checkpoint in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). ʿUmar is a member of the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in al‑Maʿbada. The background to the kidnapping is not yet known. 

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KURDWATCH, September 25, 2015—On September 21, 2015, a car bomb exploded near a checkpoint run by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In addition to the suicide bomber, two YPG fighters were killed. Three more YPG fighters and two civilians were injured. Another suicide bomber blew himself up in his car on an access road only a few kilometers outside of the city. A woman was injured in the attack. According to the YPG, its fighters were able to kill the driver of a car attempting to bring a third bomb into the city. 

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KURDWATCH, September 25, 2015—On September 18, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) claimed on its website that former soccer coach ʿUsama ʿAbdulmuhsin is a member of the Islamist Jabhat an‑Nusrah. ʿAbdulmuhsin became publicly known after he was kicked and tripped by a Hungarian journalist as he tried to flee across the Hungarian‑Serbian border. The PYD also claims that from 2004 until 2010, ʿAbdulmuhsin was the coach of the al‑Futuwwa soccer team from Dayr az-Zaur and that as such, he was present at his team’s soccer game at al-Qamishli stadium on March 12, 2004. At this game, political differences between the fans of al‑Futuwwa and the fans of the al-Jihad team from al-Qamishli resulted in violent conflicts, which led to days of unrest. According to the PYD, ʿAbdulmuhsin incited violence at the stadium. Research done by KurdWatch suggests that these claims do not reflect the facts. Usama ʿAbdulmuhsin never coached al‑Futuwwa’s first-division team. The coach at that time was Ibrahim Yasin. Yasin resigned as coach after the events of 2004; he was followed by Hisham Khalaf, who was in turn replaced by Anwar ʿAbdulqadir in 2010. Usama ʿAbdulmuhsin only coached al‑Futuwwa’s youth team. Moreover, several eyewitnesses have told KurdWatch that the then president of al‑Futuwwa, Immad ʿAtala, was in the stadium and attempted to calm fans. According to another eyewitness who was a sports reporter at the stadium in 2004, neither the players nor the coach of al‑Futuwwa were involved in the conflicts. They were far more concerned with preventing conflict so that they could play the game.

The PYD’s claim that people were killed inside the stadium is also false. KurdWatch’s report on the events of 2004 [download report] indicates that all of the deaths occurred outside of the stadium. A total of thirty-two victims of the days of conflict with Syrian security forces have been named—not, as the PYD claims, more than fifty.  

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KURDWATCH, September 24, 2015—On September 21, 2015, a prisoner exchange took place between the Islamic State (IS) and the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). Among those released by the IS was Masʿud ʿAqil, an employee for the Iraqi‑Kurdish television station Rûdaw. Farhad Hame, who was kidnapped with ʿAqil on December 16, 2014 [further information], remained imprisoned. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, seven Arab prisoners were also released. The PYD has not formally commented on the exchange, and information on the IS fighters released by the YPG is not yet available. 

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KURDWATCH, September 22, 2015—On September 15, 2015, the Islamic State (IS) once again attacked a checkpoint controlled by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in al‑Hasakah. Three YPG fighters and four civilians were killed when a car bomb exploded. Six more people were injured. The IS had already carried out an attack on a YPG checkpoint one day earlier [further information].

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KURDWATCH, September 22, 2015—On September 19, 2015, the Kurdish Youth Movement held a rally in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). Around twenty to twenty‑five activists remembered the Islamic State (IS) attack on ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) one year ago [further information]. The Kurdish Youth Movement is a member of the Kurdish National Council. 

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KURDWATCH, September 22, 2015—On September 17, 2015, the recruit Khabat Muhammad Haso (b. 1988 in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn) was fatally shot while on duty guarding a hospital in Damascus. The Syrian army drafted Haso into military service in 2011. His family was told that he was killed by a Syrian opposition sharpshooter. 

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KURDWATCH, September 20, 2015—On September 14, 2015, three car bombs exploded in al‑Hasakah, two of them in the city center. The third explosion took place near a checkpoint run by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the north of the city. More than ten people were killed and many others were injured. Both YPG fighters and civilians were among the dead. Syrian army positions were the target of the attacks in the city center, where three civilians were killed and others injured. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for all three attacks.

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KURDWATCH, September 20, 2015—In a press release in mid‑September 2015, one hundred sixty-nine members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Syria (PDK-S) from al-Malikiyah (Dêrik) announced their withdrawal from the party. The decision was justified on the basis of widespread fraud in the internal party elections on July 24, 2015 as well as agreements between unnamed groups within the party. Forty‑four party members in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) had already left the PDK-S in early August 2015 [further information].

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KURDWATCH, September 17, 2015—On September 8, 2015, an explosion occurred at one of the sites occupied by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the south of the city of al‑Malikiyah. Due to the force of the detonation it is presumed that the YPG had been using the former state farm as an ammunition depot.

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KURDWATCH, August 17, 2015—On September 2, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party, released Falamaz ʿUthman. The member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party—Syria (PDK‑S) was kidnapped by the Asayiş on July 7, 2015 [further information]. We have not yet been able to reach ʿUthman to ask him about the reasons for his arrest. 

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KURDWATCH, September 17, 2015—On September 10, 2015, the Supreme Election Commission carried out municipal elections in the canton of ʿAfrin. The Supreme Election Commission is governed by the transitional administration, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Two co‑chairs were elected to the municipal councils of each of a total of thirty‑one municipalities. Shaykh Ali’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Demokratische Yekîtî) was the only party besides the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), which is under PYD control, to take part in the elections. On September 12, the Supreme Election Commission announced that TEV‑DEM had won all posts. In a statement the Democratic Yekîtî accused the chairs of numerous election committees of being biased. No details were provided. The Democratic Yekîtî also announced that it does not wish to participate in the municipal council elections. Councilors are to be elected on October 2. 

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KURDWATCH, September 13, 2015—On September 8, 2015, Turkish soldiers opened fire on a group of refugees trying to cross the Syrian‑Turkish border illegally near the city of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Hasan Nuri Sulayman (b. 1975 in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn) was killed.

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KURDWATCH, September 11, 2015—On September 9, 2015, approximately fifteen employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), dispersed a meeting of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) in the village of Shaykh Bilal, twenty‑five kilometers north of ʿAfrin. They kidnapped PDK‑S central committee member ʿAbdurrahman Apo and the party member ʿAli Bilal, in whose house the meeting took place. Both were released a few hours later. Apo told KurdWatch: »During the kidnapping, the Asayiş treated us roughly. They bound my hands. Although they were friendly at the station, they told me that they have instructions to halt all meetings of the PDK‑S.«

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KURDWATCH, September 10, 2015—On September 5, 2015, Turkish soldiers opened fire on three refugees trying to cross the Syrian-Turkish border illegally near the city of al‑Qamishli. Matin Sulayman (b. in al‑Qamishli) was killed. Sulayman was buried on September 6 in al‑Qamishli. 

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KURDWATCH, September 8, 2015—On September 5, 2015, the Kurdish National Council’s local committees held rallies in front of their offices in several cities. Demonstrations were held in cities such as al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), and Tall Tamr. As the Kurdish National Council had resolved on August 29 [further information], participants protested against migration from the Kurdish regions. Several signs called for an end to forced recruiting and arbitrary kidnappings; however, those responsible—the Democratic Union Party (PYD), its People’s Defense Units (YPG), and its security service (Asayiş)—were not mentioned by name. The number of demonstrators ranged from nearly forty in Tall Tamr to approximately two hundred in al–Qamishli.

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KURDWATCH, September 6, 2015—On September 1, 2015, the Rojava Youth Union, which has ties to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), organized a protest march. Beginning in Jindiras, Sharran, Basuta, and Raju, the demonstrators converged upon ʿAfrin. There they gathered for a final rally and demanded the release of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who is imprisoned in Turkey. 

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KURDWATCH, September 6, 2015—Since April 2015, media outlets close to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) have been reporting on the formation of a new militia called the Core Defense Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Cewherî, YPC). On April 24, the Hawar news agency reported on the training of one thousand five hundred YPC recruits for fourteen battalions in al‑Qamishli. On June 30, Xeber24 reported on YPC special units in al‑Hasakah. And on September 2, Hawar mentioned the formation of a YPC women’s unit in the district of Shaykh Maqsud in Aleppo. The nature of the relationship between the YPG and the People’s Defense Units (YPG) is unclear. It is also unclear whether the PYD carries out forced recruiting for the YPC.

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KURDWATCH, September 6, 2015—On September 2, 2015, the youth and sports committee for the transitional administration in the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), organized a demonstration in ad‑Darbasiyah. Approximately twenty‑five female activists took part and protested against the marriage of minors.

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KURDWATCH, September 4, 2015—On August 29 and 30, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited numerous young men at checkpoints in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). According to eyewitness reports, approximately one hundred fifty recruits were brought to the Tall Baydar training camp, located twenty‑five kilometers east of Tall Tamr. 

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KURDWATCH, September 4, 2015—On August 31, 2015 armed conflicts broke out thirty‑five kilometers south of Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî) between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Islamic State (IS). IS fighters attacked YPG positions in the village of Fatisa, ten kilometers east of ʿAin ʿIsa, but were unable to capture the village. According to information provided by the YPG, two IS fighters were killed.  

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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, August 6, 2015—On July 26, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), announced in a statement that it had »arrested« several people »who organize armed groups« and »maintain contacts outside of Rojava [Syrian-Kurdistan]«. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, the following people are among those kidnapped: Ghandi Murad Sino and ʿAdnan Murad Sino, Ahmad Sile, Hasan Ramadan ʿAli and Idris Mahmud Muhammad in al‑Qamishli; Muhammad Hasan Shuwaysh in ʿAmudah; Walid Hamid ʿAbdi, ʿIsa Hajj Taha, and Mustafa Ahmad al‑Rashi in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Mustafa Ahmad al‑Rashi and ʿIsa Hajj Taha are members of Shaykh Ali’s PYD‑affiliated Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî). They were released on July 29. In al‑Hasakah, the writer ʿAbdulhakim Bashir Khidr, the Kurdish National Council member Mahmud Hasan ʿUje [further information] as well as Asʿad Ibrahim Yasin and Ibrahim Asʿad Yasin were kidnapped.

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KURDWATCH, August 5, 2015—On July 28, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped ʿIdan Jamil ʿAmr, a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from his home in the village of Kimar, ten kilometers south of ʿAfrin, for the second time. ʿAmr was already kidnapped by the Asayiş on April 3, 2015.

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KURDWATCH, August 2, 2015—On July 26, 2015 armed people kidnapped Kurdish National Council member Mahmud ʿUje (b. 1955, married, seven children) from his workplace at a broker’s office in al‑Hasakah. A niece was an eyewitness to the kidnapping. His nephew Walat ʿUje told KurdWatch: »They were employees of the Asayiş. My uncle refused to go with them, so they threatened him with their weapons and took him with them«. The Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), informed the family that it knew nothing about the whereabouts of Mahmud ʿUje.

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KURDWATCH, July 31, 2015—Seventy-year-old Khadijah Kale has been released. She was kidnapped on July 20, 2015 by members of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information]. After four days under the control of the Asayiş, she was released after she developed health problems due to a lack of sleep.

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KURDWATCH, July 31, 2015—On July 27, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to capture the village of Sarrin, thirty-five kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The village was previously under the control of the Islamic State (IS) and had been contested since early July [further information].

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KURDWATCH, July 31, 2015—On July 27, 2015, a civilian was killed when a bomb exploded in the district of al‑Kurnish in al‑Qamishli. Two people were injured by the blast. Another explosion occurred at the cattle market in the district of Jumʿayah, injuring another four people. Reliable information about the background to the explosions and the perpetrators is not available.

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KURDWATCH, July 29, 2015—On July 25, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to expel Islamic State (IS) fighters from the relatively large district of an‑Nashwah in al‑Hasakah. On the same day, smaller skirmishes between YPG fighters and Syrian army soldiers took place in the center of the city. The army had asked the YPG‑fighters to turn over a hospital building. Yet, they did not comply with this request.

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KURDWATCH, July 29, 2015—On July 21, 2015, the Commission on Party Affairs for the transitional administration in the canton of ʿAfrin, appointed by the Democratic Union Party, approved an application submitted by Muhyiddin Shaykh Ali’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî). The party is considered to have close ties to the PYD and had applied for authorization from the Commission in accordance with the Law on Political Parties enacted by the transitional administration [further information]. In contrast, the member parties of the Kurdish National Council have refused to apply for authorization from the transitional administration since this would recognize its legitimacy. Among the members of the National Council is a splinter party of the Democratic Yekîtî with the same name, led by Kamiran Haj ʿAbdu. It split from its parent party due to disagreements about the relationship to the PYD among other issues [further information].

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KURDWATCH, July 26, 2015—On July 18, 2015, the minor ʿUdula Muhammad Ahmad (b. 2001) joined the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) against her parents’ will. On July 19, 2015, Rohlat Mustafa Jamo (female, b. 1999) and Nizar Ibrahim Jamo (male, b. 1998) also joined the YPG against their parents’ will. All three are from the village of ʿAyn al‑Batt, twenty kilometers southeast of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). On July 19, relatives of the teenagers confronted PYD members living in the same village and blamed them for the recruitment. Since then tensions in the village have been running high.

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KURDWATCH, July 26, 2015—On July 22, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped twelve-year-old Mahmud Muhammad Schaikho (b. on 2. January 2003) from a soccer field in ad‑Darbasiyah. When the boy’s parents demanded his release at an Asayiş station, they were promised that this would happen the following day. The promise was not kept.

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KURDWATCH, July 26, 2015—On July 21, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Muhammad Hasan Shuwaysh, a member of the Kurdish National Council, in front of his home in ʿAmudah. The exact reason for the kidnapping is not known. The Kurdish National Council condemned the kidnapping in a statement.

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KURDWATCH, July 26, 2015—On July 21, 2015, a serious explosion occurred at a site in Rumaylan, one that the Syrian government previously used for military purposes. It is believed that the explosion involved an ammunition depot belonging to the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). At least four YPG fighters were killed and others were injured. There is no information available regarding the cause of the explosion.

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KURDWATCH, July 23, 2015—On July 20, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped seventy-year-old Khadijah Kale from her home in al‑Qamishli. A few days prior, Kale had complained at a PYD People’s House about an interruption to the power supply. A verbal confrontation between Kale, an employee of the People’s House, and three cadres for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) reportedly ensued. The activists allegedly later complained about Kale to the Asayiş.

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KURDWATCH, July 23, 2015—On July 19, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) captured the territories between Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz (Çiyayê Kezwan) west of al‑Hasakah and the region south of the city, which was already under their control [further information]. The YPG now controls all of the territories surrounding the city of al‑Hasakah. The Islamic State (IS) is still in control of several districts in the city. The Syrian Armed Forces, in particular the Air Force, as well as Arab militias with close ties to the regime are also fighting against the IS in al‑Hasakah, but have not yet reported any successes.

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KURDWATCH, July 23, 2015—On July 18, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Khalaf Ahmad Husayn, a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from his home in al‑Hasakah. Husayn was released on 19. July. He told KurdWatch: »They accused me of being against the PYD. When they kidnapped me during the night, the Asayiş were very aggressive. They ransacked my house and frightened my children. But when I was in the prison, they were nicer to me«.

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KURDWATCH, July 21, 2015—On July 15, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed the home of Asʿad Ibrahim Yasin, a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), in al‑Hasakah and beat him in front of his children. They then kidnapped him and his teenage son Ibrahim (b. 1998). Only a few days earlier, his son had been detained at an Asayiş checkpoint for wearing a peshmerga uniform. He had tried to join the Rojava Peshmerga in Iraqi-Kurdistan, however he was rejected because of his age, and he subsequently returned to Syria.

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KURDWATCH, July 21, 2015—On July 16, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Hasan Ramzi, a member of the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Union Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from his home in al‑Qamishli. The background to the kidnapping is not known.

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KURDWATCH, July 21, 2015—On July 17, 2015, the General Command of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in ʿAmudah reported that David Jando, founder of the Assyrian Khabur Guards, was killed on April 22, 2015 by four YPG fighters [further information]. At the same time, the General Command distanced itself from the murder and explained that it was not in keeping with YPG politics. An investigative commission comprised of members of the YPG and Assyrian Military Council determined that the suspects should be arrested and brought to court.

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KURDWATCH, July 18, 2015—On July 15, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to expel Islamic State (IS) fighters from several villages south of the city of al‑Hasakah, including from Abyad, three kilometers away. The YPG is thus in control of the territories to the north, east, and south of al‑Hasakah. The YPG is currently trying to bring the territories west of the city under its control as well. The IS continues to control several districts of al‑Hasakah.

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KURDWATCH, July 17, 2015—On July 11, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited numerous young men on public streets in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Exact information about the number people concerned is not available.

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KURDWATCH, July 17, 2015—On July 11 and 12  2015, armed fighting broke out between Islamic State (IS) fighters and fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the village of Sarrin, thirty-five kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). In addition, numerous clashes occurred along the Euphrates between Sarrin and Jarabulus, which is located on the west bank of the Euphrates and is under IS control. Observers suspect that the YPG is planning an attack on Jarabulus. According to Turkish media, the Turkish government has considered occupying a region between ten and twenty kilometers wide and one hundred ten kilometers long located between ʿAfrin and Jarabulus. This is intended to prevent the YPG from capturing this region and connecting the canton of ʿAfrin to the cantons of Kobanî and Jazirah, which have already been joined geographically [further information].

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KURDWATCH, July 15, 2015—On July 7, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), searched the home of Falamaz ʿUthman, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), in Dayr Sawwan, thirty kilometers north of ʿAfrin. They subsequently kidnapped ʿUthman.

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KURDWATCH, July 15, 2015—On July 12, 2015, sixteen-year-old Sidra Muhammad Saʿid ʿUthman was killed by a bullet accidentally fired from her Kalashnikov. She was employed as a traffic policewoman for the transitional administration, a body appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KURDWATCH, July 13, 2015—On July 3, 2015, leading members of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria stated in a declaration that the Progressive Party was withdrawing its members from all committees in the Kurdish National Council and suspending its membership. The decision was justified on the grounds that alliances were being formed with the goal of marginalizing the Progressive Party. The specific issue was the election of members to the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the last meeting of the Kurdish National Council’s newly elected Council [further information]. A total of seven parties had formed a coalition and made a promise to elect their respective candidates—in most cases the chairmen:
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 Progressive Party in Syria (chairman: ʿAbdulhamid Hajji Darwish);
4. the Kurdish Democratic Equality Party in Syria (chairman: Niʿmat Dawud);
5. the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) (chair: vacant);
6. the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) (chairman: Kamiran Haj ʿAbdu);
7. the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria (chairman: Siamand Hajo).
The chairman of the Progressive Party was elected to the committee, but only received 43 votes, while Siʿud Mala had the best result with 59 votes. This led the Progressive Party to conclude that part of the coalition did not vote for its candidate. However the difference in votes could also be due to independent voters or votes from parties outside of the coalition. In the course of the debate about its withdrawal, leading politicians in the Progressive Party’s denied suspicions that its departure is connected to the decision to place the Rojava Peshmerga under the control of the Kurdish National Council [further information].
The Progressive Party is close to the Iraqi-Kurdish Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which in turn maintains close ties to the Iranian government and is in favor of cooperation between the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council.

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KURDWATCH, July 11, 2015—From June 30 to July 1, 2015, the Kurdish National Council’s newly elected Council held a session in al‑Qamischli in order to make decisions about open questions and proposals from the last conference of the National Council earlier in June [further information]. Those gathered largely confirmed the Kurdish National Council’s political program and adopted its bylaws. A new leadership committee was also elected at the session. Ibrahim Biro, the secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) is the new chairman.
In addition, the Council decided that in the future the Rojava Peshmerga, an armed unit of Syrian Kurds formed in Iraqi‑Kurdistan, should be placed under the control of the Kurdish National Council. Currently, it is under the command of the Iraqi-Kurdish regional government under President Masʿud Barzani. In a declaration on July 3, the Council stated that it would reach an agreement with all parties concerned – meaning the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Iraqi‑Kurdish regional government – in order to transfer the Rojava Peshmerga to Syria so that it can defend the Kurdish regions from there.
Siamand Hajo’s Kurdish Future Movement in Syria criticized the decision since transferring the unit to Syria was made dependent on the approval of the PYD. In its own proposal to form a military unit [further information], which was submitted at the last session of the Kurdish National Council, the Future Movement suggested forming a commission to negotiate with the Iraqi‑Kurdish regional government and the Americans to provide the Rojava Peshmerga with military training and weapons. Following such training, the Rojava Peshmerga would be placed under the supreme command of the Kurdish National Council and transferred to Syria.
The Future Movement’s proposal to break off all contact with the PYD was rejected. Its proposal regarding the future administrative structure of the predominantly Kurdish regions in Syria was not discussed, nor were the reasons for this provided.

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KURDWATCH, July 10, 2015—On July 4, 2015, Islamic State (IS) fighters attacked several positions held by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) as well as positions held by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is cooperating with the YPG, near the town of Suluk (twenty kilometers southeast of Tall Abyad [Girê Sipî]). There were similar advances on YPG positions near al‑Mabruka (thirty kilometers southwest of Raʾsal‑ʿAyn) on July 5, in the city of Tall Tamr on July 6, and around the Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz (Çiyayê Kezwan) west of al‑Hasakah on July 7.

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KURDWATCH, July 10, 2015—On July 6, 2015, Islamic State (IS) fighters attacked positions held by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the city of ʿAyn ʿIsa, thirty-five kilometers south of Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî). IS‑affiliated sources initially claimed that parts of the small city had been captured. In contrast, YPG‑reported that the attackers had been fought off.

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KURDWATCH, July 10, 2015—Since July 5, 2015, hundreds of refugee families have once again been gathering at the border crossing between ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and Suruç. Members of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), are preventing them from entering Turkey.

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KURDWATCH, July 9, 2015—On July 1, 2015, Walid ʿAbdurrahman (forty-three years old, b. in al‑Qamishli, married, several children) set himself on fire in front of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) office in the Iraqi-Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah to protest the recruitment of his son. On June 28, 2015, PYD members had recruited fifteen-year-old Birin as a fighter for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) without Walid ʿAbdurrahman’s permission. When ʿAbdurrahman demanded Birin’s return at the PYD office in Sulaymaniyah, he was told that Birin was already at the PKK headquarters in the Iraqi-Kurdish Qandil Mountains and that the PYD was no longer able to make decisions on his return. After this, Walid ʿAbdurrahman set himself on fire in front of the office. Family members put out the fire and took him to the hospital. In an interview with the Iraqi-Kurdish television station Rudaw, the father later stated that he would set himself on fire again if the PYD does not bring back his son.

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KURDWATCH, July 6, 2015—On July 3, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) captured several towns to the north and east of the small village of Sarrin, thirty-five kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Sarrin is the last village in the vicinity of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab that is under Islamic State (IS) control. The village is strategically important because it is home to one of the few bridges across the reservoir that separates ar‑Raqqah from the territories east of of Aleppo.

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KURDWATCH, July 6, 2015—On July 3, 2015, the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), a member of the Kurdish National Council, organized a rally in ʿAmudah in cooperation with the Kurdish Democratic Left Party in Syria, the Kurdish Youth Movement, and the Union of Cooperation of Kurdish Youth in Syria. Approximately fifty people participated in the event. Those present condemned the attacks by the Islamic State (IS) and called on the Kurdish National Council and the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) to revive the Kurdish Decision-making Body [further information].

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KURDWATCH, July 6, 2015—On June 27, 2015, approximately two hundred supporters of the Kurdish National Council gathered at the cemetery in ʿAmudah to remember the victims of an attack by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) on a demonstration on June 27, 2013 [further information]. The rally proceeded without incident.

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KURDWATCH, July 6, 2015—On June 30, 2015, the PYD‑affiliated ANHA news agency reported that six Islamic State (IS) fighters had attacked the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the eastern part of the city of Tall Abyad. Three of the attackers were allegedly killed and the others expelled.

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KURDWATCH, July 4, 2015 – On June 28,2015, Islamic State (IS) fighters attacked positions held by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the strategically important village of asch‑Shuyukh, thirty kilometers west of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The YPG was able to fend off the attack.

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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].

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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.

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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.«

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.«

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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.

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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. Although they provided for this, none of the three proposals were voted upon. The conference’s planning committee decided that the newly elected Council should discuss the proposals and also decide on them.

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KURDWATCH, June 25, 2015—According to statements from activists, on June 20, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) raided numerous villages in the ʿAfrin region and forcibly recruited approximately two hundred young men. The villages of Jindiras (Cindirêsê), Juwayq (Coqê), Raju (Reco), Shiran (Şêran), Kafr Jannah (Kefercenê), Maidan (Meydano), Shaykh Khuruz (Şêxorzê), Zaʿrah (Zerê), Bulbul (Bilbilê) and Shaykh al‑Hadid (Şiyê) were among the raided villages. At least two minors, sixteen-year-old Muhammad Rasho and seventeen-year-old Jiwan Khalo, were among the recruits. On June 23, relatives of the conscripts demanded their release. There are currently thirty-six camps in the ʿAfrin region in which the YPG trains its militiamen, including conscripts.

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KURDWATCH, June 24, 2015—On June 20, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) kidnapped approximately fifty Kurdish men from their homes in the city of ar‑Raqqah. Information on the fate of the kidnapped victims is not yet available.

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KURDWATCH, June 24, 2015—During the night of June 21 to June 22 2015, skirmishes broke out between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the National Defense Army, which is loyal to the regime. A civilian was killed in the confrontations. Background information as well as information on any additional victims is not available.

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KURDWATCH, June 23, 2015—On June 21, 2015, an employee of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), was killed in a suicide attack in al‑Qamishli. The Asayiş supreme commander, Jiwan Ibrahim, told the PYD‑affiliated ANHA news agency that the bomber first shot and killed a guard in front of an Asayiş building. He then entered the building where he blew himself up, injuring three additional employees.

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KURDWATCH, June 23, 2015—On June 11, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released ʿAbdulhanan Habash, Ahmad Jamaluddin Saidu, and Mustafa Jamaluddin Saidu, three members of the ʿAfrin local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S). Habash was kidnapped on May 21, 2015, the other two politicians on May 27, 2015. At the time of the kidnapping they were in their homes in the village of Raju, located twenty-five kilometers northwest of ʿAfrin.

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KURDWATCH, June 23, 2015—On June 8 and 9  2015, a conference of the Syrian opposition took place in Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian government. Among the Kurdish participants were representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the PYD-appointed transitional administrations for the cantons of Jazirah and Kobanî, the PYD‑affiliated women’s party Yekîtiya Star, the PYD’s People’s Defense Units, other PYD‑affiliated parties, as well as representatives of the parties joined in the Kurdish National Council. ʿAbdulhamid Hajji Darwish, the chairman of the Kurdish Advancement Party in Syria, was among the latter group. Representatives of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) did not attend the conference on the grounds that they had only received a personal invitation. The largest opposition alliance, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, was also not represented as an organization. By contrast, the ten parties of the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change, which has close ties to the regime, were represented. The PYD is also a part of this alliance. The conference’s closing statement, which formulates general principles for resolving the conflict in Syria, makes no mention of plans for the future administration of the predominantly Kurdish areas. An additional declaration, the so called national charter, states that the Syrian nation is comprised of Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, and other ethnic groups and that they have legitimate ethnic rights in accordance with international agreements.

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KURDWATCH, June 21, 2015—On June 16, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) captured the entire city of Tall Abyad. Since capturing the Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz (Çiyayê Kezwan) on June 5 [further information], the YPG has been able to advance a total of two hundred kilometers across a swath of territory between ten and twenty kilometers wide. Although the YPG advance was supported by air attacks by the US‑Air Force, the swift advance does suggest that heavy fighting with the Islamic State (IS) did not take place. When the YPG invaded Tall Abyad, it too had already been abandoned by most IS fighters. By June 20, the YPG had captured additional villages south of the city. On June 17, 2015, Salih Muslim, co-chairman of the PYD, told the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet that the Asayiş, the security service of the PYD, will share control of Tall Abyad with a YPG civilian administration. Employees of the transitional administration for the canton of Kobanî, which was appointed by the PYD, reported that Tall Abyad is to be integrated into the canton of Kobanî.

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KURDWATCH, June 19, 2015—On June 15, 2015, fighters for the National Defense Army, which is loyal to the regime, kidnapped sixteen-year-old Murad ʿAlwan ʿAbdi in al‑Qamishli. His father, ʿAlwan ʿAbdi, told KurdWatch: »At least seven other civilians as well as fifteen Asayiş employees were captured along with my son.« On June 16, Murad ʿAlwan ʿAbdi and the other civilians were released as part of a prisoner exchange between the pro-regime militia and the Democratic Union Party (PYD). It is not known if the employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the PYD, were released or if they are still detained.

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KURDWATCH, June 18, 2015—On June 14, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) surrounded the town of Suluk, twenty kilometers southeast of Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî) and captured the surrounding villages. They then marched west, reaching the YPG units in control of the territories east of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). In doing so, they formed a corridor between the »Canton of Jazirah« and the »Canton of Kobanî« that is under YPG control for the first time [further information]. With support from several units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the YPG then attacked the city of Tall Abyad, which is under the control of the Islamic State (IS). IS fighters from Turkey have regularly reached the IS‑stronghold of ar‑Raqqah via Tall Abyad. That same day, the YPG was able to capture the eastern districts of the city and the nearby border crossing. Thousands of refugees gathered at the Syrian-Turkish border in order to reach the neighboring country. The residents of the city of Tall Abyad are predominantly Arab, however there is a large Kurdish minority.

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KURDWATCH, June 18, 2015—On June 11, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited Kawa Muhammad Khair near his parents’ home in al‑Qamishli. When his father, Muhammad Khair, demanded that Asayiş employees release his son, an argument ensued. Shortly there after, Muhammad Khair died of a heart attack. After several people intervened, his son was released on June 12, 2015.

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KURDWATCH, June 16, 2015—Shortly after midnight on June 12, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed two houses in Dayr Ayyub, ten kilometers northeast of al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). They kidnapped Faysal Muhammad Naqib, a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) and his fellow party member Muhammad Husain. The background to the kidnapping is unknown.

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KURDWATCH, June 16, 2015—On June 12, 2015, an »International Freedom Battalion« was set up in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn. The »freedom battalion« is a military unit that is intended to support the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). As the PYD‑affiliated news agency ANHA reported the same day, the battalion is comprised of members of various communist parties as well as Circassian, Greek, Turkish, German, and Armenian fighters. It remains unclear what sort of organizational ties it has to the YPG. In the photographs published, the fighters do not have any YPG‑symbols on their uniforms.

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KURDWATCH, June 12, 2015—On June 9, 2015, an explosion took place in front of a building belonging to the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in al‑Qahtaniya (Tirbesipî). According to the Asayiş, the explosion was a suicide bombing. Three Asayiş employees were reportedly injured. In addition several houses in the vicinity were damaged. Shop owners in the city center closed their shops in fear of additional attacks.

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KURDWATCH, June 12, 2015—On June 4, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) tried to recruit young men at an internet café in the predominantly Christian district of al‑Wusta in al‑Qamishli. When the men resisted, shots were fired and one YPG fighter was reportedly seriously injured. The situation escalated further with the arrival of vehicles of the regime-affiliated Christian Sootoro militia. Fighters on both sides fired into the air. Civilians were removed from the vicinity. The outcome of the conflict is unclear.

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KURDWATCH, June 11, 2015—On June 7, 2015, the Syrian army started an offensive against Islamic State (IS) positions south of the city of al‑Hasakah. The Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) have stated that they are not involved in the fighting.

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KURDWATCH, June 10, 2015—Between May 19 and 31, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to take large territories west of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) from the Islamic State (IS). On 25. May, IS‑fighters were expelled from Tall Abu Shaikhat (forty kilometers southwest of Raʾsal‑ʿAyn), and the city of al‑Mabruka (thirty kilometers southwest of Raʾsal‑ʿAyn) was captured. The twenty-kilometer-wide swath of territory between al‑Mabruka and Nuss Tall (fifty kilometers southeast of Tall Abyad) is now also under YPG control. According to the PYD‑affiliated website HAWARNEWS, numerous IS‑fighters were killed during the capture of al‑Mabruka. However, images that could confirm this statement have not been released. The extent to which fighting between the YPG and IS even took place and the actual strength of the IS in the aforementioned territories remain unclear. The territory captured by the YPG is relatively sparsely populated. For the YPG controlling this territory is significant as it is part of the region that separates the Jazirah and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) from one another. The YPG is reportedly planning the capture of these territories, including the city of Tal Abyad, in order to connect the cantons of Jazirah and Kobanî, which were established by the YPG [further information]. Arab activists are accusing the YPG of conducting ethnic cleansing in the aforementioned territories. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, residents of Arab villages were, in fact, called upon to leave their homes. The YPG justifies this with the fact that these villages are located in a »restricted military area«.

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KURDWATCH, June 9, 2015—On June 6, 2015, three employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), detained and beat twelve-year-old Aldar Qarnu in front his parents’ house in ʿAmudah. They justified this to his family on the grounds that the boy had violated a nighttime ban on driving motorcycles. Moreover, he had not stopped at the Asayiş’s command, for which they »could have shot him«. Shortly thereafter approximately twenty-five employees of the Asayiş stormed the family’s house. They fired into the air and kidnapped Aldar Qarnu, his father Ahmad Qarnu, his twenty-four-year-old brother Ismaʿil, and his twenty-four-year-old cousin Rodi Qarnu. Mazlum Qarnu, another cousin, told KurdWatch: »It’s all just a performance. With the anniversary of the massacre of ʿAmudah drawing near, they want to frighten the city’s residents once again«. One of Mazlum Qarnu’s brothers, Barzan Qarnu, was killed on June 27, 2013, following an attack by the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) on a peaceful demonstration [further information].

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KURDWATCH, June 6, 2015 – On June 4, 2015, two masked persons tore down the two flags hanging over the entrance to the office of Muhyiddin Shaykh Ali’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The flags in question were the Kurdish flag and the party flag of the Democratic Yekîtî.

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KURDWATCH, June 5, 2015—According to Arab activists, in late May 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) demanded that residents of Arab villages around the Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz (Çiyayê Kezwan) leave their villages. The YPG had captured the mountain a few days earlier [further information]. Numerous people have reportedly complied with the demand. Kurdish activists suspect that the YPG fears the Islamic State (IS) could count on support from the Arab population should it attempt to recapture the territory. The exact number of people displaced is unclear.

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KURDWATCH, June 3, 2015—On May 30 and 31  2015, the Islamic State (IS) attacked positions of the Syrian regime ten kilometers south of the city of al‑Hasakah. At least thirty government fighters were killed in the attack. On May 30, several missiles also hit the city of al‑Hasakah, four of them hit the Kurdish districts as‑Salihiyah and al‑Mufti. Several people were injured.

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KURDWATCH, June 1, 2015—In preparing for its third conference, the Kurdish National Council has accepted several applications for membership. Among the new members who can take part in the conference planned for June 2015 are the fraction of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) that did not take part at the last party conference in April 2015, thereby opposing Nasruddin Ibrahim [further information], as well as a splinter of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) under the leadership of Kamiran Haj ʿAbdu. ʿAbdu split the party [further information] after the Democratic Yekîtî under Muhyiddin Shaykh Ali (just as Nasruddin Ibrahim’s el‑Partî) were expelled from the Kurdish National Council in December 2014 because of their ties to the Democratic Union Party  (PYD) [further information]. In addition, splinters of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria and the Kurdish Democratic Left Party in Syria were also admitted. Both parties had been expelled from the Kurdish National Council in February 2014 after they joined the transitional administration of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information]. Thus splinters of all of the parties expelled from the Kurdish National Council due to their ties to the PYD have been admitted. The number of members, especially of the splinters of the two left parties, is limited. In some cases it may only involve a dozen people. However, the parent parties are also not significantly larger. Also admitted into the Kurdish National Council were the two fractions of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria. While Siamand Hajo’s party is clearly critical of the PYD, the other fraction of the Future Movement does not fundamentally reject talks with this party [further information]. A splinter of the Kurdish Youth Movement will also be represented in the National Council alongside the original Kurdish Youth Movement. The Kurdish Youth Movement is among the founding members of the Kurdish National Council. All new members are to be allowed to delegate representatives to the Kurdish National Council relative to their strength. Exact information on this is not yet available.

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2015—On May 28, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), demanded that Farhan Marʿi, a member of the central committee of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), and Bangin Fathi, a member of the Yekîtî’s local committee in Rumaylan, leave their homes in Rumaylan. Both had previously criticized the PYD on television. The live in homes owned by the state. The Baʿth regime had rented them to employees of state oil companies.

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2015—On May 28, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) started an offensive twenty kilometers west of the city of Tall Abyad, which is controlled by the Islamic State (IS). The offensive is taking place as part of the Burkan al‑Furat (»Volcano of the Euphrates«) alliance. Moreover, YPG units regularly announce military successes east of Tall Abyad. PYD-affiliated activists have reported that there is a plan to conquer Tall Abyad, which would establish a connection between the cantons of Kobanî and Jazirah.

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2015—On May 26, 2015, fighters for the »Labayki ukhtah« alliance, which is dominated by Islamist fighters, attacked positions of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the district of Shaykh Maqsud in Aleppo. Two people were injured. On May 24,, the alliance had given the YPG two days to implement the agreements made in early May [further information]. A few hours later, representatives from both sides met and agreed to a ceasefire. In a video, a YPG representative stated that the agreements will be implemented quickly.

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KURDWATCH, May 30, 2015—On May 26, 2015, Jailan Akram ʿUmar (b. on August 20, 2001 in al‑Qamishli) did not return to her parents’ house after going for a walk. The family assumed that Jailan was recruited by the YPG. Several family members then gathered in front of a barracks of the Democratic Union Party’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) in al‑Qamishli and demanded the under-aged girl’s return. The commanders of the barracks refused to speak with those gathered. The family members later saw the girl being taken from the barracks by car.

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KURDWATCH, May 28, 2015—On May 24, 2015, fighters for the oppositional Nuruddin-az‑Zanki battalion hijacked a bus with around forty Kurds on board near the city of Binnish, approximately eight kilometers northeast of Idlib. The Kurds were returning from Damascus to ʿAfrin. The hijackers demanded the release of an unspecified prisoner of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). With the exception of three female passengers and the driver, those kidnapped were released the following day.

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KURDWATCH, May 27, 2015—On May 19, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) expelled Islamic State (IS) fighters from several villages that are located approximately five kilometers south of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). The villages in question are Umm al‑Masamir Arab, Umm al‑Masamir Kurd, Umm al‑Masamir Gharbi, Hajji Qadri, Huwayj, and Tall Hamamah.

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KURDWATCH, May 27, 2015—On May 23, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) ended the curfew it imposed on several districts in al‑Hasakah on May 7, 2015 [further information]. This was the longest curfew imposed by the YPG to date.

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KURDWATCH, May 25, 2015—On May 20, 2015, the communal administration of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) requested in writing that all shop owners in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) replace their shop signs at their own expense. The new signs must be trilingual—Kurdish Arabic, and Aramaic.

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KURDWATCH, May 24, 2015—For some time, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been conducting regular political training for young Kurds in numerous cities in the predominantly Kurdish settled areas of Turkey. In private apartments, groups of up to thirty people receive one to two weeks of instruction. Outside contacts are strictly forbidden. Upon completion of the training, participants are asked to decide whether they want to do political work in Turkey or fight in Syria. As an activist told KurdWatch, »Many decide to fight in Syria«.

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KURDWATCH, May 22, 2015—On May 17 and 18 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) established a second front against Islamic State (IS) positions ten kilometers southwest of Tall Tamr. According to the YPG, by May 21, 2015, the IS had been expelled from twenty villages, including several Christian villages. The YPG’s advance was accompanied by air attacks by the US‑led alliance.

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KURDWATCH, May 22, 2015—On May 20, 2015, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) captured the Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz (Çiyayê Kezwan), approximately thirty-five kilometers southeast of the city of al‑Hasakah, and expelled all Islamic State (IS) fighters. The Jabal ʿAbdulʿaziz is an extension of the Jabal Sinjar in Iraq. Along with some Kurds and Christians, the majority of the inhabitants of the captured regions are members of Arab tribes.

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KURDWATCH, May 22, 2015—On May 15, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recruited numerous young men against their will at a weekly market and at a cattle market in ad‑Darbasiyah. The exact numbers are not available.

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KURDWATCH, May 22, 2015—On May 16, 2015, Dijlah Muhammad, the deputy chairman of the defense committee for the transitional administration of the canton of ʿAfrin, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stated in an interview with the PYD‑affiliated news agency ANHA that on May 7 2015 the canton’s legislative council put forth a new law on compulsory military service. The content is comparable to the law published on July 13, 2014 in the canton of Jazirah [further information]. In accordance with the law, young men in the canton of ʿAfrin between the ages of eighteen and thirty will also soon be forced to complete six months of military service for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG).

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KURDWATCH, May 20, 2015—On May 9, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Nazir Mustafa at the Syrian-Iraqi border. Mustafa, who is a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) in al‑Malikiyah, had tried to pass through the Faysh Khabur border crossing into Iraqi-Kurdistan. He was released three days later.

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KURDWATCH, May 19, 2015—On May 13 and 14 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited numerous young men in ʿAmudah, al‑Qamishli, and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). The exact numbers are not available.

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KURDWATCH, May 19,  2015—On May 11, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), put an end to an internal session of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) at a private house in the village of Bastuta, five kilometers south of ʿAfrin, with the threat of armed force. PDK‑S central committee member Husayn Ibash was among those present at the session. The Asayiş forbade those gathered from holding further sessions.

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KURDWATCH, May 15, 2015 – On May 2, 2015, fifteen armed oppositional groups announced the founding of an alliance against the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Aleppo. Among those represented in the alliance, which is called »Labayki ukhtah« (»We will help you, sister«), are the Islamist Jabhat an‑Nusra and the Jabhat ash‑Shamiyah. Prior to this, YPG fighters had insulted a veiled woman at a checkpoint and later asked her to vacate her home. The incident occurred in the Kurdish district of Shaykh Maqsud, which was until then solely under YPG control. On May 4,, the alliance signed a joint declaration with the People’s Defense Units. The latter pledged to surrender those responsible for the attack against the woman to a juridical committee, which is to be based in the office of the Jabhat ash‑Schamiyah. In addition, it was agreed that Shaykh Maqsud will henceforth be treated like all other districts in Aleppo and will not be part of the PYD’s transitional administration. Islamist groups can thus operate freely there. An exchange of prisoners from both sides was also agreed upon.

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KURDWATCH, May 15, 2015—On May 10, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), dispersed a demonstration in al‑Qamishli organized by the local committee of the Kurdish National Council. The rally was intended to show support for the ongoing protests in the Kurdish regions of Iran. The Asayiş kidnapped five participants in the demonstration, they were released two days later. A demonstrator told KurdWatch: »The Asayiş insulted us. They asked us why we were demonstrating for a slut.« The term »slut« referred to the young woman whose death sparked the unrest in Iran. After being raped, she committed suicide by jumping from the second floor.

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KURDWATCH, May 15, 2015—On May 9, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), dissolved a rally in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). The rally was organized by the Kurdistan Women’s Union, which has close ties to the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S). The Asayiş confiscated numerous cell phones belonging to participants. In addition, two journalists for the Iraqi-Kurdish television station Rûdaw were kidnapped. They were released a few hours later; their cameras were destroyed before being returned to them. The rally was planned as an event in solidarity with the dissident demonstrations in the Kurdish regions of Iran, which have been going on for several days. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is accused of intentionally radicalizing the protests in Iran in order to give the regime an excuse to quickly crush the protests.

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KURDWATCH, May 13, 2015—In early May 2015, employees of the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forced all teachers in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) to make a donation of five hundred Syrian Lira to rebuild the destroyed city of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). According to information obtained by KurdWatch, the PYD is also planning to compel shop owners and farmers to donate.

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KURDWATCH, May 12, 2015—On May 3, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed internet cafés and coffee houses in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) and forcibly recruited numerous young men. At the same time, other people were picked up off the street. Outraged relatives demanded in vain that the Asayiş release their sons. Based on the number of protesting relatives, it can be concluded that more than thirty people must have been recruited. A similar wave of kidnappings last took place on April 4, 2015 [further information].

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KURDWATCH, May 12, 2015—On May 6, 2015, unknown persons in al‑Hasakah fired several missiles at the predominantly Kurdish districts of al‑Mufti and as‑Salihiya. At least four civilians were killed. The same day a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint belonging to the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). According to information from the YPG, three of its fighters were killed; other sources estimate up to fifteen victims. On May 7, 2015, the YPG imposed a night-time curfew on both of the aforementioned districts.

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KURDWATCH, May 11, 2015—On May 4, 2015, two bombs exploded in the predominantly Kurdish district of Ruknuddin in Damascus. At least one of the bombs was a car bomb. Three people were killed and numerous others injured. The district is controlled by the Syrian regime.

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KURDWATCH, May 8, 2015—On May 5, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), banned the QNet company, which is based in the Jazirah. The company is accused of destroying social relations and promoting the collapse of the economy and infrastructure. In addition, the company’s goal is allegedly to transfer funds out of »Rojava« (in other words, Syria’s Kurdish regions). The ban makes the Asayiş’s extensive powers clear. The institutions of the transitional administration were not involved in the affair.

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KURDWATCH, May 7, 2015—On May 3, 2015, approximately fifteen activists from the politically independent Brotherhood Center for Democracy and Civil Society held a rally in al‑Qamishli. Most of the participants were women. They commemorated journalists who are being held or have been killed by the Syrian regime and by the Islamic State (IS). Since April 30, pictures of journalists who were captured and killed have been posted or distributed in the form of a flyer in several Kurdish cities. An activist told KurdWatch that journalists persecuted by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) were not mentioned at the rally for fear of repercussions.

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KURDWATCH, May 5, 2015—On May 1, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped ʿAbdulwahhab ʿAli, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from his house in the village of Sharran, ten kilometers north of ʿAfrin.

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KURDWATCH, May 4, 2015—On April 10, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped twenty-eight-year-old Sulayman Mahmud Mashʿal in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The justification for his abduction was that he had been trafficking weapons. After his family paid two hundred thousand Syrian lira, Mashʿal was released on April 20. He was severely tortured while in prison. His arms and legs were broken in numerous places.

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KURDWATCH, May 1, 2015—On April 28, 2015, all Iraqi-Kurdish peshmerga remaining in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) were withdrawn. The first unit, comprised of one hundred fifty peshmerga, had arrived in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab on October 30, 2014 to support the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). A total of four regiments were alternately deployed. According to official figures, only one peshmerga was killed in the fighting for the city.

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KURDWATCH, April 30, 2015—On April 16, 2015, Syrian air force aircraft bombed several Islamic State (IS) positions south of Tall Tamr. In addition, on April 19 and 20 2015, fighting again broke out to the south and west of the city between the IS and the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). Information on the number of victims is not available.

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KURDWATCH, April 30, 2015—On April 19, 2015, the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) held a party congress in al‑Qamishli that was organized by Party Secretary Nasruddin Ibrahim and two other members of the eleven-member central committee. It was the first party congress since 2006. Ibrahim, who has been the secretary of the party since 1998, was confirmed in his office. In recent months, there have been disagreements between Ibrahim and the majority of the central committee. Ibrahim was accused of being too close to the Democratic Union Party (PYD). As recently as April 9, 2015, eight members of the central committee declared in a press release that Ibrahim’s decisions in the Kurdish Decision-making Body [further information] were invalid.

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KURDWATCH, April 28, 2015—On April 22, 2015, David Jando, founder of the Assyrian Khabur Guards, was fatally shot at a checkpoint about sixty kilometers south of ad-Darbasiyah on the highway between Tall Tamr and ad-Darbasiyah. His companion, Iliyas Nasir, a leading member of the same organization, was injured. It is not yet clear who shot at Jando and Nasir. The highway is controlled by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), yet, a member of the Assyrian Military Council in Aleppo told KurdWatch that representatives of the Syrian regime were responsible for the attack.

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KURDWATCH, April 28, 2015—On April 22,2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released thirty-two-year-old Adil Muhammad Asʿad (married, one child) from prison. Asʿad was kidnapped on February 23, 2015 in al‑Qamishli after the PYD found several radio devices in his possession. During his interrogation, he was suspected of having planned attacks.

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KURDWATCH, April 27, 2015—On April 20, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released Shukri Bakr and Muhammad Haji, both members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), in ʿAfrin. Haji and Bakr were kidnapped in Aleppo by employees of the Asayiş on September 20, 2013 and October 10, 2013 respectively. They were initially held in a PYD prison in the Shaykh Maqsud district of Aleppo and subsequently in a PYD prison in ʿAfrin. ʿAbdurrahman Apo, a member of the PDK‑S’s central committee, told KurdWatch that both kidnapped victims were brutally tortured by the PYD.

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KURDWATCH, April 25, 2015—On April 15, 2015, Farid Saʿdun, dean of the College of Humanities at Euphrates University in al‑Hasakah, was kidnapped by unknown persons in al‑Qamishli and turned over to the Syrian regime’s security forces. An eyewitness reported that the kidnappers spoke Kurdish. Saʿdun was released a day later. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, however, the stipulation was made that he must again report to the Syrian regime’s security forces in al‑Hasakah. A nephew of the kidnap victim told KurdWatch: »In an interview Rudaw‑TV about a week ago, my uncle reported on the situation in the province [al‑Hasakah] and on emigration due to the PYD. That’s probably why he was kidnapped.«

 

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KURDWATCH, April 23, 2015—On April 17, 2015, the Kurdish Front (formerly Kurdish Front Brigade) [further information] celebrated the completion of training for thirty new recruits with a two hour military parade at a military camp on the outskirts ʿAfrin. In recent years, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has banned or broken up all military units of other Kurdish parties as well as of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the territories under its control; however, it tolerates the activities of the Kurdish Front, which is seen as having close ties to the PYD.

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KURDWATCH, April 23, 2015—On April 14, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union (PYD), released Ahmad Muhammad ʿAmo (b. 2000 in ʿAfrin) in ʿAfrin. ʿAmo was kidnapped a year ago. His father told KurdWatch: »They only admitted to the kidnapping six months later. They accused my son of being a member of a Free Syrian Army unit. But that isn’t true. The real reason for his kidnapping was his participation in dissident demonstrations.«

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KURDWATCH, April 22, 2015—On April 10, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited a number of refugees in the village of Qalʿat al‑Hisn (Kalhê), located twenty-five kilometers south of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) and only five hundred meters from the border. Those in question were young men who were trying to cross the Syrian-Iraqi border illegally in order to escape forced recruitment by the PYD. The exact number of recruits could not be determined. According to eyewitness reports, approximately fifty people in three Asayiş vehicles were handed over to the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG).

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KURDWATCH, April 21, 2015—On April 12, 2015, the Committee on Internal Affairs for the transitional administration in the canton of ʿAfrin, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), published ordinance number 105, which prohibits the display of flags and photos of political figures and martyrs in and on public places, shops, and private vehicles. The ordinance stipulates that violations will be punished with legal action. A similar ordinance was published on March 30, 2015 in the canton of Jazirah [further information]. Independent activists and politicians critical of the PYD fear that the intent of the ordinance is to ensure that only PKK-affiliated symbols are permitted in the Kurdish regions of Syria.

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KURDWATCH, April 18, 2015—On April 12, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), broke into the office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S). They seized a television and a computer.

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KURDWATCH, April 17, 2015—On April 11, 2015, fifty-one recruits were released in Tall Baidar (twenty-five kilometers east of Tall Tamr) after completing six months of forced military service with the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). They were drafted on October 11, 2014 in the course of a large-scale forced recruiting. It is unclear if all of the recruits drafted at that time have been released from service.

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KURDWATCH, April 16, 2015—On April 8, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released Hashim Ibrahim Miho, member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from a prison in the village of Rumaylan, approximately one and a half kilometers southwest of al‑Maʿbada. Miho was kidnapped from his home in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) on June 30, 2014, shortly after his return from Iraqi-Kurdistan.

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KURDWATCH, April 16,  2015—On April 7, 2015, Turkish soldiers at a border crossing near the city of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) opened fire on refugees who were trying to cross the Syrian-Turkish border illegally. Forty-four-year-old ʿAbdulkarim Saho (b. in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî]) was killed. Another person was injured.

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KURDWATCH, April 14, 2015—On April 8, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) once again began an offensive to the south and west of Tall Tamr. They set fire to oil tankers so that the resulting billows of smoke would complicate a potential intervention by the US‑Air Force. Fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were able to stop the attack. The IS is still only two kilometers from Tall Tamr; however, the Khabur considerably complicates an advance on the city.

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KURDWATCH, April 13, 2015—On March 27, 2015, the Syrian Army informed the family of the recruit Usama Husayn Ismaʿil (b. 1993 in al‑Qamishli, married) of his death. He was allegedly killed by an Islamic State (IS) sharpshooter near Tall Birak. Ismaʿil was drafted by the Syrian Army about six months ago after he was deported from Iraqi-Kurdistan. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, he was refused residence there because he could not prove his identity.

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KURDWATCH, April 13, 2015—On April 3, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recruited sixteen-year-old Dilbar Ahmad Haji (b. 1999 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab) in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The girl’s father told KurdWatch: »When we demanded her return from the Asayiş, my wife was beaten, called an honorless traitor, and then thrown out«. According to the Asayiş, Dilbar Haji decided on her own to perform military service and is staying at a camp run by the PYD’s Women’s Defense Units (YPJ).

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KURDWATCH, April 11, 2015—On April 6, 2015, Jabhat an‑Nusra fighters stopped several buses near the village of Taqad, twenty kilometers west of Aleppo. All Kurdish male passengers were detained for hours.

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KURDWATCH, April 11, 2015—On April 8, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), prevented the chairman of the Kurdish National Council, Tahir Sifuk, and his deputy, Niʿmat Dawud, from crossing into Iraqi-Kurdistan at the Faysh Khabur border crossing, east of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik).

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KURDWATCH, April 10, 2015—On April 4, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed internet cafés and coffee houses in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) and forcibly recruited numerous young men. Outraged relatives demanded in vain that the Asayiş release their sons. Exact information about the number of people kidnapped is not available.

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KURDWATCH, April 9, 2015—On March 26, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released Mahmud Hanan Kurish in ʿAfrin. He had been kidnapped on December 4, 2014 after he inquired about the fate of his uncle, Ibrahim Kurish, who had also been kidnapped [further information]. On March 30, 2014, Lazgin Barakat (b. 1989 in ʿAfrin) was also released. He had likewise been detained by the Asayiş since December 4, 2014. Barakat is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S). He had reported Ibrahim Kurish’s arrest on Facebook and helped to organize a demonstration. Both Kurish and Barakat were tortured while imprisoned.i

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KURDWATCH, April 7, 2015—On April 3, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped ʿIdan Jamil ʿAmr, a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from his home in the village of Kimar, ten kilometers south of ʿAfrin. ʿAmr was released on April 4, following mediation efforts by the Iraqi-Kurdish Kurdistan Democratic Party.

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KURDWATCH, April 5, 2015—At the end of March 2015, members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) changed the locks on at least four residences in the village of Sinnarah, twenty kilometers west of ʿAfrin. The legal owners of the homes are members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) currently living in Turkey. In recent years, the PYD has announced several times that it will occupy the homes of those who have left the country.

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KURDWATCH, April 4, 2015—On March 31, 2015, Jabhat an‑Nusra fighters kidnapped six Kurds at a checkpoint in Jarshinar near Idlib. Among the victims are ʿAbdu ʿAbdulqadir and Hasan Hassu. The background to the kidnapping and the fate of those kidnapped are not yet known. On March 29, 2015, the al‑Qaʿida-affiliated Jabhat an‑Nusra cooperated with other oppositional groups to expel the Syrian Army from the strategically important city of Idlib.

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KURDWATCH, April 3, 2015—On March 30, 2015, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), published an ordinance in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) according to which flags and photos of political figures may no longer be displayed in or on public as well as private vehicles. According to the ordinance, violations will be punished with the immediate confiscation of the vehicle. The regulation does not apply to vehicles belonging to the PYD, the Asayiş, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), or the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ), in other words vehicles in and on which the flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliated organizations as well as pictures of its leader Abdullah Öcalan are displayed.
The ordinance is presumably in response to a conflict between the Kurdish National Council and the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) in connection with the funeral service for the victims of the attack on a Newroz celebration in al‑Hasakah [further information]. Despite the protests of the Kurdish National Council, TEV‑DEM prevented the coffins from being covered with Kurdish flags.

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KURDWATCH, April 2, 2015—Following an Islamic State (IS) offensive against Tall Tamr on February 27, 2015, fighting repeatedly broke out west of the city between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and IS fighters. The fighting continued up to March 28, with IS fighters able to hold their positions a few kilometers west of the city. Exact information about the number of victims on both sides is not available. On March 25, eight missiles fell on Tall Tamr, with two hitting a mosque.

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KURDWATCH, April 1, 2015—In early March 2015, the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), opened its own registry offices. The offices bear the designation »Office for the Contract of Family Life«. They are issuing family registers that bear the designation »Contract of Family Life«. According to these documents, men are only allowed to marry one woman, not four, as is currently possible under Syrian law. Among other things, the distribution of aid supplies is to be based solely on the new family registers. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, the PYD hopes to thus encourage all families to exchange their old family registers for new ones. This will allow the PYD to collect exact information about family composition and thus about potential recruits. So far the PYD has not had access to this information as the central recruiting authority in al‑Hassakah remains under regime control.

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KURDWATCH, April 1, 2015—Following the withdrawal of the Kurdish National Council [further information], the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) and the three parties expelled from the Kurdish National Council [further information] held a meeting of the Kurdish Decision-making Body on 26. March 2015. Only thirteen of the original thirty-six members were present (five independent members, five members of TEV‑DEM, and representatives of the three parties expelled from the Kurdish National Council). In a statement, the assembled members conceded that they did not have the 75seventy-five per cent needed to constitute a quorum. They called on the Kurdish National Council to resume cooperation. In contrast, Aldar Khalil, a member of TEV‑DEM’s executive committee, stated in an interview that since the Kurdish National Council’s withdrawal, a quorum is no longer based on the original thirty-six seats, but instead on the remaining twenty-one seats. According to Khalil, the thirteen members who were present would therefore constitute the necessary quorum. Apart from the fact that this statement is arithmetically incorrect, it raises the question of what the function of the Kurdish Decision-making Body should be in the absence of the Kurdish National Council’s cooperation. The Decision-making Body was founded as the result of negotiations in October 2014 that sought to renew efforts at cooperation between the National Council and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information].

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KURDWATCH, March 29, 2015—On March 25, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a Newroz celebration in ʿAfrin. It is the only Newroz celebration to take place in the Kurdish regions following the attacks in al‑Hasakah [further information]. Approximately ten thousand people took part in the event. All other Kurdish parties had cancelled their public Newroz festivities due to the attacks.

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KURDWATCH, March 29, 2015—On March 14 and 18  2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). The recruitment took place at several checkpoints in al‑Qamishli and ʿAmudah. The men were brought to a YPG recruitment camp where they must do six months of compulsory service. Exact information about the number of people affected is not available.

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KURDWATCH, March 28 2015—On March 26, 2015, Turkish soldiers at a border crossing point near the city of ad‑Darbasiyah opened fire on refugees who were trying to cross the Syrian-Turkish border illegally. Seventeen-year-old Husain Muhammad Ose (b. in ad‑Darbaisyah) was killed.

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KURDWATCH, March 28 2015—Disagreements arose in connection with the burial of the victims of the attacks during Newroz festivities in al‑Hasakah [further information]. Originally the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) and the Kurdish National Council planned to organize the ceremony together. In a press release on March 23, however, the Kurdish National Council reported that it was withdrawing the speech it had planned for the burial, since TEV‑DEM was not allowing the coffins to be covered with Kurdish flags. The statement further criticized the fact that TEV‑DEM was also allowing representatives of the transitional administration and the Kurdish Decision-making Body a right to speak. Originally it had been agreed that only the Kurdish National Council and TEV‑DEM would speak at the funeral service. The additional speakers resulted in a clear predominance of organizations that are dominated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KURDWATCH, March 28, 2015—On March 20, 2015, at least fifty-two people were killed in attacks during Newroz festivities in al‑Hasakah. A vehicle exploded at a Kurdish National Council celebration in the district of al‑Mufti. According to activists, there was a second explosion shortly thereafter. Originally there were reports that prior to this seven people had been killed in an explosion at a event organized by the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) in the same district. Later activists explained that there had only been a loud bang, after which several participants fled in panic and were later killed at the nearby Kurdish National Council event.
It is not yet clear who is responsible for the attacks. A local Islamic State (IS) group in ar‑Raqqah claimed responsibility for the attacks, but several activists doubt this. They claim that the attack was not a suicide bombing, and the vehicle that exploded was at the celebration from the beginning. They presume that the Syrian regime is behind the attack and suspect that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) was informed in advance. Prior to the attack in al Hasakah, the PYD had prohibited all Newroz festivities planned for 21. March in the Jazirah.

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KURDWATCH, March 26, 2015—On March 16, 2015, the Supreme Election Commission announced voter turnout for the local elections held on March 13, 2015 at a press conference in ʿAmudah. The Supreme Election Commission is governed by the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). More than one hundred thousand eligible voters reportedly cast a ballot, turnout was given at fifty per cent. The names of the successful candidates were read aloud. KurdWatch has not been able to find out whether the election results will be made public.
In the absence of independent election observers, even the voter turnout figures cannot be verified. Election workers and election observers were employees of the PYD-appointed transitional administration. According to information from the Supreme Election Commission, national and international election observers also participated in counting the votes. However, all that is known is that sixteen election observers from the Kurdish regions of Turkey took part. Moreover, there is no reliable information about current population numbers for al‑Hasakah province. Prior to the beginning of the civil war, the population was estimated at 1.4 million residents. Since then at least two hundred fifty thousand Kurds have left the province for Turkey, Iraqi-Kurdistan, and Europe. These people had no opportunity to take part in the elections. The elections also had other serious shortcomings. Armed fighters were present in some polling places; the PYD flag was hung in others. Illiterate people who wanted to participate in the elections were not allowed to bring their own assistant into the voting booth. Instead they were assigned an election worker. On the day of the election, several candidates were still campaigning in front of the polling places.
According to a new decree by the Supreme Election Commission, it is possible to file an objection against the way in which the elections were carried out. In order to do so, however, a deposit of one hundred thousand Syrian lira (approximately four hundred fifty euro) is required. If the Court of Cassation rejects the objection, the complainant does not receive his money back. Obviously this regulation is intended to prevent people from filing objections. Yet as the PYD has established its own jurisdiction, even the Courts of Cassation do not represent an independent decision-making body.

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KURDWATCH, March 24, 2015—On March 10, 2015, military police returned the body of twenty-three-year-old Sharvan Bozan ʿIsa to his relatives. He was allegedly killed several months ago in the Saidnaya prison, located approximately thirty kilometers north of Damascus. His body showed multiple signs of torture. ʿIsa was a member of the Free Syrian Army and was arrested in Aleppo about a year ago.

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2015—On March 12, 2015, skirmishes broke out near Tall Khinzir, twenty kilometers southwest of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Islamic State (IS). Information about the number of victims is not available.

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2015—On March 10, 2015, between seventy and one hundred people were able to flee from an Islamic State (IS) prison in the city of al‑Bab, approximately forty kilometers northeast of Aleppo. The majority are fighters for other Syrian-Arab units. In addition, approximately twenty-five fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) are reportedly among the escapees.

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KURDWATCH, March 21 2015—On March 8, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) advanced into territory under the control of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) twenty-five kilometers southeast of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and attacked a checkpoint near the village of Hulaqi. Several village residents were killed in the attack. The YPG had forced the residents to set up the checkpoint in order to fend off a new advance by the IS.

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KURDWATCH, March 20, 2015—On March 12, 2015, the Kurdish National Council decided to »completely discontinue work in the Kurdish Decision-making Body and all of its committees«. This was justified on the grounds that the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) has refused to postpone the elections planned for March 13, for a few months. The Kurdish National Council believes that the fundamental issues between the National Council and TEV‑DEM or rather the Democratic Union Party (PYD) should be resolved before elections take place.

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KURDWATCH, March 17, 2015—On March 6, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) expelled fighters for the Islamic State (IS) from the strategically important village of ash‑Shuyukh, thirty kilometers west of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The PYD thus controls all of the territory between ʿAyn al‑ʿArab and the Euphrates. IS‑fighters destroyed a bridge across the Euphrates to hinder the advance of the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, March 17, 2015—On March 7, 2015, several hundred female supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) held a rally on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border near al‑Qamishli to mark International Women’s Day. On March 8 2015, numerous events organized by the various Kurdish parties also took place in ʿAfrin, ʿAmudah, al‑Qamishli, al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), and other villages in the predominantly Kurdish regions.

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KURDWATCH, March 16, 2015—On March 5 and 6 2015, armed conflicts broke out between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and Arab militias loyal to the regime on one side and fighters of the Islamic State (IS) on the other. The fighting occurred south of the village of Tall Birak, which is located thirty kilometers northeast of al‑Hasakah. At least eleven YPG‑fighters were killed. Tall Birak and the surrounding Arab villages have been under YPG control since February 26, 2015.

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KURDWATCH, March 14, 2015—On March 7, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) attacked several villages around the city of Tall Tamr. The advance was stopped with the help of air attacks by the US-led anti-IS coalition.

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KURDWATCH, March 11, 2015—On February 28, 2015, masked people kidnapped Rojin Hanan Kurish (b. January 1,  2000) in front of her parents home in ʿAfrin. She was released on a highway the same day. Prior to her release she was tortured. Employees of the transitional administration in the canton of ʿAfrin, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), demanded that the family leave the country within forty-eight hours. On March 3, Rojin, her sister Julia (b. 1998) and her brother Imad (b. 1997) fled to Turkey, where her father already lives due to health reasons. Ibrahim Kurish, the children’s uncle, who was himself previously kidnapped by the PYD [further information] told KurdWatch: »We have been supporting the revolution since 2011. We are against the regime and against the politics of the PYD. The PYD does not want to have any critics in the country.«

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KURDWATCH, March 8, 2015—On March 1 and 3 2015, the Islamic State (IS) released a total of twenty-one of the Christians kidnapped near Tall Tamr [further information], including both women and children as well as men. All of those released are from the village of Tall Shamiram.

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KURDWATCH, March 8, 2015—Between February 23 and 25 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) began an offensive against positions of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Tall Tamr. The attack was also directed at several Christian villages to the south and southwest of Tall Tamr, including Tall Shamiram, Tall Nasri, Tuma Yalda, al‑Aghibsh, and al‑Hawuz. Between fifty and seventy Christians were allegedly kidnapped.

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KURDWATCH, March 4, 2015—On February 22, 2015, the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) conducted a memorial event near al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa) for Nasruddin Birhik, who died on 21. February 2012 following an assassination attempt [further information]. Approximately six thousand people took part in the event. Birhik was a member of the central committee of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), a predecessor of the PDK‑S. Evidence suggests that Birhik was killed by supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). His death was never properly investigated.

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KURDWATCH, March 4, 2015—On February 26, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) captured the city of Tall Hamis, an Islamic State (IS) stronghold located seventy kilometers south of al‑Qamishli. On February 28, Tall Birak, located thirty kilometers northeast of al‑Hasakah, was taken. The IS has thus lost all access to the Kurdish regions between al‑Qamishli and al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). After capturing Arab villages around Tall Hamis, the YPG burned down several houses there. According to Arab activists, the YPG was taking revenge for the YPG‑fighters killed at this location in January 2014 [further information].

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KURDWATCH, February 28, 2015—On February 18, 2015, fighters for the Islamic State (IS) opened fire on two oil transporters near the village of as‑Suwaydiyah, thirty kilometers south of al‑Malikiyah. They also kidnapped Sabah ʿUmar Hamdan (b. 1982), who happened to be present. As‑Suwaydiyah is controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). By attacking oil transporters, the IS is attempting to influence the PYD’s sources of income.

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KURDWATCH, February 28, 2015—In early February, members of the Democratic Union Party painted over a large mural of Syrian president Bashar al‑Assad for the first time. Pictures of the PYD and YPG‑flags are now located at the strategically important As‑Sabbagh roundabout.

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KURDWATCH, February 28, 2015—On February 22, 2015, several hundred Turkish soldiers crossed the Syrian-Turkish border near ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) with military vehicles and advanced approximately thirty kilometers into the interior of the country. They evacuated approximately forty Turkish soldiers who were guarding the tomb of Sulayman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Defense Units (YPG) assisted the Turkish units with the operation. The remains of Sulayman Shah were also evacuated. According to Turkish sources, they were brought to another Syrian region.

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KURDWATCH, February 28, 2015 – On February 11, 2015, a statement was released on the official website of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) in which the party’s membership in the Kurdish Decision-making Body was described as frozen »until the question of the party’s membership in the Kurdish National Council is resolved«. On February 12, Party Secretary Nasruddin Ibrahim said on his Facebook page that this information is false. A statement by the party’s politburo supported his view. Ibrahim himself took part in a meeting of the Kurdish Decision-making Body on February 12.

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KURDWATCH, February 27, 2015—On February 21, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) started a major offensive against Islamic State (IS) positions seventy kilometers south of al‑Qamishli. In the course of this, YPG‑fighters crossed Iraqi territory in the direction of Tall Hamis and advanced into territory under IS control. The Iraqi-Kurdish peshmerga supported the attack with artillery fire. According to information from the YPG, by 23. February, two dozen villages had been captured.

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KURDWATCH, February 25, 2015—On February 19, 2015, the Kurdish Decision-making Body met in al‑Qamishli and selected five members each for the committee to reform the local administration and the committee on military issues [further information]. Four members of each committee belong to TEV‑DEM, one member of each committee is from one of the parties expelled from the Kurdish National Council [further information]. The Kurdish National Council will soon name four additional members to each committee.

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KURDWATCH, February 24, 2015—On February 15, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited the student Luʾay Muhammad Amin ʿAli (b. 1989 in Tall Maʿruf) in downtown al‑Qamishli. He was transferred to the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG).

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KURDWATCH, February 24, 2015—On February 15, 2015, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) commemorated the 1999 arrest of Abdullah Öcalan, the chairman of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Approximately two thousand people took part in a demonstration in ʿAfrin to mark the anniversary.

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KURDWATCH, February 21, 2015—On February 15, 2015, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) commemorated the 1999 arrest of Abdullah Öcalan, the chairman of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). To mark this occasion, PYD members forced all store owners in al‑Qamishli to close their businesses or face a large fine. The power supply to several streets was interrupted to substantiate the demand.

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KURDWATCH, February 19, 2015—On February 7, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited Khalaf Muhammad ʿAli ʿAskar (b. 1996 in al‑Malikiyah) at a checkpoint in al‑Malikiyah. When relatives of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) member approached the PYD’s People’s Defense Units and demanded his return, they were told they would see their son again in six months.

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KURDWATCH, February 18, 2015—On February 9, 2015, the women’s organization Yekîtiya Star, which has close ties to the Democratic Union Party, received authorization from the Committee for Party Affairs for the PYD-appointed transitional administration of the canton of Jazirah to form a political party.

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KURDWATCH, February 18, 2015—Between January 27 and February 10, 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, expelled Islamic State (IS) fighters from all of the territories in the vicinity of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) that were under PYD control prior to their capture by the IS. In addition, several Arab villages south of the city were also conquered. Numerous residents fled for fear of retaliation. On February 10, Kurdish fighters had advanced up to forty five kilometers eastward and were therefore within twenty kilometers of Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî).

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KURDWATCH, February 12, 2015 – On February 5, 2015, the Kurdish decision-making body met in al‑Qamishli and formed three committees. The first is tasked with drafting bylaws for the decision-making body, the second will focus on a reform of the local administration, and the third is concerned with military questions. Nasruddin Ibrahim, secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), did not take part in the session. According to information obtained by KurdWatch, there is considerable criticism of Ibrahim inside the party because he supported the TEV-DEM candidates and thus brought about the break with the Kurdish National Council [further information].

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KURDWATCH, February 10, 2015—On February 1, 2015, the legislative council of the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) specified March 13,  2015 as the date for local elections. A total of fourteen electoral districts were announced.

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KURDWATCH, February 10, 2015—On February 4, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). The recruitment took place at several checkpoints in al‑Qamishli. An Asayiş employee told the news agency ARA News that one hundred fifty people were arrested and distributed among the YPG training camps.

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KURDWATCH, February 9, 2015—On January 27, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Samir Salim Husayn from his house in Dayr Sawwan, twenty kilometers north of ʿAfrin. Husayn, who is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), had refused to perform service at a checkpoint controlled by the PYD’s People’s Defense Units  (YPG). The YPG regularly requires residents of remote villages to help them defend these villages. Officially, this support is voluntary, but in fact it is often coerced. Dayr Sawwan is a village in close proximity to the territories controlled by Jabat an-Nusra.

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KURDWATCH, February 9, 2015—On February 3, 2015, an eighteen-year-old female fighter for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) was killed in a Syrian air force attack on a checkpoint in Aleppo. In addition, two fighters for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) were injured. According to its own information, the YPG killed three Syrian army soldiers the same day.

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KURDWATCH, February 7, 2015—On February 4, 2015, approximately one thousand supporters of the Kurdish National Council demonstrated in al‑Hasakah for the unity of the Kurdish National Council and the PKK-controlled Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM).

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KURDWATCH, February 7, 2015—On January 30, 2015, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Huzni Barzani and Yusuf Husayn on the Iraqi-Syrian border. Both men, who come from the village of Dayr Ayyub (Dêrûna Qulinga), ten kilometers north east of al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), had tried to flee to Iraqi-Kurdistan to avoid being recruited by the PYD’s People’s Defense Units. Their smugglers betrayed them to the Asayiş, who turned them over to the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, February 4, 2015—On January 29, 2015, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in ʿAfrin celebrated the one year anniversary of the appointment of the transitional administration for the canton of ʿAfrin. Approximately two thousand people took part in the event.

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KURDWATCH, February 4, 2015—On January 27, 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, began fighting the Islamic State (IS) in the villages to the east, west, and south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). According to information from the YPG, the IS was expelled from ten villages, mainly to the south and southwest of the city.

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KURDWATCH, February 4, 2015—On January 29, 2015, Turkish soldiers opened fire on several refugees at a border point near the city of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). The refugees were attempting to cross the Syrian-Turkish border illegally. Thirty-year-old Nazahat Dschalal (b. in al‑Qamishli, married) was killed.

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KURDWATCH, February 2, 2015—The Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) has officially assumed leadership of the Rojava-Peshmerga, an armed unit founded in Iraqi-Kurdistan and comprised of Syrian Kurds. Dilovan Robarî, member of the PDK‑S central committee and himself a high-ranking Rojava-Peshmerga, communicated this news on the party’s website. As reported by Robarî, the decision was made in consultation with the political leadership of Iraqi-Kurdistan. According to Robarî’s data, approximately ninety percent of the Rojava-Peshmerga are members of the PDK‑S.

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KURDWATCH, February 1, 2015—On January 26, 2015, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units  (YPG) called upon residents of the mainly Kurdish districts of al‑Hasakah to leave the city that same day. The measure was justified on the grounds that further conflicts with regime militias are possible.

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KURDWATCH, February 1, 2015—On January 27, 2015, the transitional administration for the canton of Kobanî, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and the leaders of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) held a press conference in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) to announce the recapture of the city. Celebrations were held in numerous cities in the Kurdish regions, including al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, al‑Hasakah, al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), and Tall Tamr. The majority of the participants were PYD‑supporters.

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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, January 16, 2015—On January 8, 2015, 125 Kurdish politicians, writers, and activists published a declaration on the internet condemning the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) practice of recruiting minors. They blame the PYD for the massive exodus of young people from Syria’s Kurdish regions. The majority of the signatories live abroad.

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KURDWATCH, January 16, 2015—On January 4, 2015, the Kurdish Decision-making Body met in al‑Qamishli in the absence of representatives for the Kurdish National Council. Twelve representatives of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) were present, along with five additional representatives with close ties to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and three former representatives of the Kurdish National Council who had been dismissed from the Council because of their ties to the PYD [further information]. The members of the Kurdish National Council had made their presence dependent on the absence of the three dismissed representatives. The PYD, however, has taken the view that the members of the Decision-making Body cannot simply be exchanged.

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KURDWATCH, January 13, 2015—On January 2, 2015, Hamrin Husain’s mother paid a visit to the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) Women’s Defense Units (YPJ). She asked about her daughter’s whereabouts and demanded her return. The PYD had recruited the ninth-grader against her parents’ will [further information]. The mother was threatened that she would be expelled from Syria if she continues to ask after her daughter. The girl’s brother, Marwan Husain, was also threatened with a »terrible fate« at a barracks of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) on December 27, 2014.

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KURDWATCH, January 12, 2015—On December 28, 2014, at least six fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were killed in a car bomb explosion at a checkpoint near the village of Qatmah, fifteen kilometers northeast of ʿAfrin.

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KURDWATCH, January 7, 2015—On December 28, 2014, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) recruited the eight-grader Hizbiyah Walid Shaykhmus (b. on January 5, 2000) without her parents’ permission. The girl was picked up at her school in al‑Qamishli. The minor’s parents have turned to the YPG and the PYD’s People’s House as well as to the Asayiş, the security service of the PYD, and demanded the return of their daughter. According to Hizbiyah’s father, they were informed only that their daughter will be brought to the military headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Iraqi-Kurdish Qandil Mountains.

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KURDWATCH, January 7, 2015—On January 3, 2015, approximately twenty-five activists and relatives of the kidnapped ninth-grader Hamrin Husain once again demonstrated in ʿAmudah for the return of the minor, who was recruited by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). One banner read: »We will continue until Hamrin and all other minors have returned to school.«

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KURDWATCH, January 6, 2015—On December 29, 2014, two dozen employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), surrounded the office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) in al‑Hasakah and forcibly opened both entrances. Office equipment, party signs, Kurdish flags, and several cell phones belonging to those present were stolen and three party members were kidnapped. Several hours later some of the stolen items were returned and the kidnapped victims were released. The office was then reopened.

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KURDWATCH, January 6, 2015—On December 25, 2014, more than fifty people were killed in an attack by the Syrian Air Force on a mainly Kurdish village of Qabbasin, approximately fifty kilometers northeast of Aleppo.

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KURDWATCH, January 6, 2015—On December 29, 2014, despite threats from the PYD, family members of Hamrin Husain, the ninth-grader who was recruited by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) [further information], organized a rally in ʿAmudah calling for the girl’s return. Numerous activists and supporters of the Kurdish National Council took part in the protest. The Women’s Defense Units (YPJ), a subsidiary organization of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG), released a short video interview with Hamrin on December 28, in which she claims to have voluntarily joined the Women’s Defense Units. When she is asked for her age, the girl answers: »They claim that I’m thirteen, but I’m sixt.., I’m eighteen.« Shortly thereafter Hamrin’s family released a copy of the family register in which Hamrin Husain’s birthdate is listed as 5. January 1999. Thus Hamrin was fifteen at the time of her recruitment.

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KURDWATCH, January 1, 2014—On December 15, 2014, an Arab fighter deserted the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) southwest of Tall Tamr. He killed at least five YPG‑fighters before he was able to flee.

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KURDWATCH, January 1, 2015—The defense committee for the transitional administration for the canton of Jazirah, which was appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has designated January 20, 2015 as the final deadline by which all affected residents must fulfill their compulsory military service [download law on compulsory military service]. According to the notice published on December 17, 2014, anyone who has not registered with the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) by this date must expect legal consequences.

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