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KURDWATCH, December 30, 2013—On December 23, 2013, a unit of the National Defense Army, a regime militia, joined the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). The unit, which is from Tall Hamis (forty kilometers south of al‑Qamishli), has a total of one hundred and twenty fighters. Islamist units currently control the Arab-inhabited city. It is presumed that the Syrian regime and the YPG are planning a joint offensive to capture Tall Hamis.

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KUDWATCH, December 30, 2013—On December 22, 2013, several hundred supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) took part in a demonstration organized by PYD-affiliated youth groups in al‑Qamishli. The participants protested against the Islamist economic blockade of the cities of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab and ʿAfrin [further information].

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KURDWATCH, December 30, 2013—On December 19, 2013, Idris ʿAbdulwahhab Haj Amin (married, five children) was killed in al‑Hasakah by targeted shots from several masked people. Hadj Amin was a leading member of the Kurdish Intervention Forces, which the Democratic Union Party (PYD) forced to disband [further information].

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KUDWATCH, December 29, 2013—In his role as chairman of the Ahmad Bunjuq Center for the Support of Freedoms and Human Rights, Farman Bunjuq, father of the murdered activist Ahmad Bunjuq [further information on the case] published a report on 24. December 2013 about his son’s kidnapping and murder by the PYD. The report stated that Ahmad Bunjuq was shadowed by two vehicles prior to his murder, and one of these vehicles was driven by Basil Kacho, a sympathizer of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). In addition, the report states that members of the PYD brutally tortured Ahmad Bunjuq. Among other things, there is mention of electric shocks and extraction of toenails.

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KURDWATCH, December 27, 2013—On December 20, 2013, shots were exchanged in a Syrian army recruitment camp two kilometers south of the al‑Qamishli airport. Not long thereafter, several wounded were admitted to the state hospital in al‑Qamishli. It is presumed that recruits attempted to desert the camp
According to several sources the regime had promised amnesty to recruits who had failed to appear for military service without authorization should they voluntarily surrender. In addition, their military service was to be performed only in secure areas. Several hundred people reportedly responded to the call. When, contrary to assurances given, recruits were to be sent to the fiercely contested city of Dair az‑Zaur, several dozen people allegedly put up resistance.

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KURDWATCH, December 27, 2013—On December 18, 2013, Syrian security forces stopped a taxi in the district of Kurnish in al‑Qamishli and arrested five passengers as well as the taxi driver Bekas ʿAli. Among the arrested passengers are Diyar ʿAbdulbari Saʿid, Ahmad Muhammad Kamil Darwish, and Khalid Ramadan. The names of the other two people also arrested are unknown. The reasons behind the arrests are also unclear.

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KURDWATCH, December 26, 2013—On December 22, 2013, members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant released Ismaʿil Shukri (married, several children). Shukri was abducted from his home in Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî) on July 22, 2013 during a wave of kidnappings [further information].

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KURDWATCH, December 26, 2013—Between December 17 and 20 2013, several dozen people were killed in a series of air attacks by the Syrian air force on the city of Aleppo. The attacks were directed against various districts controlled by the opposition. On December 18 and 20, the Kurdish district of Shaykh Maqsud was bombed killing at least six people, and dozens more were injured.

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KURDWATCH, December 25, 2013—The recruit Hamadi Ahmad Muhammad (b. 1991 in al‑Qahtaniyah [Tirbesipî]) has been missing since August 2012. Muhammad completed his military service in Damascus. His family has no information about his whereabouts.

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KURDWATCH, December 23, 2013—On September 21, 2013, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), arrested Muhiyuddin Shaikh Khidr (b. in Jindiras) in Qarmatlaq (ten kilometers west of ʿAfrin). Khidr was accused of »cooperating with the enemy«. An activist told KurdWatch: »Muhiyuddin is not an activist. He was released a day later after he paid ten thousand Syrian Lira. The arrest was not political. The Asayiş only wanted to extort money.«

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KURDWATCH, December 22, 2013—On December 6, 2013, a suicide attack was carried out in front of a building belonging to the National Defense Army, a civilian militia armed by the Syrian government, in the Arab district of Tai in southern al‑Qamishli. Several people were killed. The exact information about the number of victims is not available.

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KURDWATCH, December 17, 2013—The recruit Jamil Sami Baki (b. 1991 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî]) has been missing since December 2012. Baki did his military service in Dayr Baʿalbah near Homs. A family member told KurdWatch: »Sami was able to flee during combat. He contacted us once by phone after fleeing. Since then we have heard nothing more from him.«

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KURDWATCH, December 17, 2013—At the end of November 2013, Islamist units, in particular the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levante, imposed an economic blockade on the cities of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and ʿAfrin as well as the surrounding areas. They are preventing the areas from being supplied with drinking water, food, and medicine.

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KURDWATCH, December 12, 2013—In early December 2013, the PYD-affiliated Union of Kurdish Teachers in Western Kurdistan decided to close all private schools in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). School tutoring courses were affected, as were Kurdish language courses. On December 8, several hundred pupils and representatives of the institutions took to the streets in protest against this decision.

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KURDWATCH, December 11, 2013—On December 1, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) occupied the home of ʿAbdullah Badro in al‑Qamishli. His daughter Nazhat Badro told KurdWatch: »Because of threats by PKK‑members, our entire family had to leave Syria. Once my mother had also left, the house was occupied and looted.« On January 12, 2012, three of ʿAbdullah Badro’s sons were killed by PYD‑members [further information].

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KURDWATCH, December 9, 2013—In recent weeks, members of the Democratic Union Party Union (PYD) have repeatedly carried out inspections of businesses in al‑Qamishli and other cities in the Kurdish regions. Violations of existing laws—for example by forgoing the pricing of goods—were punished with fines. The PYD inspections are taking place parallel to inspections by the government. A civil servant reported to KurdWatch that government employees had rejected the suggestion by PYD members to carry out joint inspections.

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KURDWATCH, December 8, 2013—On September 29, 2013, Sardar Naʿsan, a member of the youth movement Cooperation Aland Kobanî and ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), was arrested by the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) when he tried to apply for an exit permit to Turkey at the office of the security service. His apartment was subsequently searched and his computer confiscated. Naʿsan was released from custody on December 1, 2013.

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KURDWATCH, December 4, 2013—On November 19, 2013, at least nine fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were killed in attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant at several YPG checkpoints. The attacks took place around the Arab village of Ghibash, a few kilometers southwest of Tall Tamr. The residents of the village, which was under YPG control, had secretly provided the Islamist fighters with access to the village in order to prepare for the attack against the YPG. The residents themselves had left the village. In the days that followed, the YPG carried out a broad attack on the village and its surroundings. Dozens of homes were destroyed and the Islamist forces were driven out.

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KURDWATCH, December 2, 2013—On November 22, 2013, the doctor Ziwar Jamal Manja (b. 1981 in al‑Qamishli) was killed along with four other doctors, five nurses, and two ambulance drivers in a Free Syrian Army attack on a hospital in Dayr ʿAtiyah (just under ninety miles north of Damascus). Dayr ʿAtiyah is located on the road between Damascus and Homs. The strategically important city is largely controlled by the FSA. The hospital remains under the control of the Syrian regime. Manja was about to complete his specialist training in medicine.

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KURDWATCH, December 1, 2013—On November 20, 2013, members of the Military Intelligence Service arrested the Kurdish singer Sharif ʿUmari and the activist Muhammad Wali in al‑Qamishli. During the interrogation, they were accused of inciting activists to participate in demonstrations. ʿUmari and Wali were released from custody after seven hours.

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KURDWATCH, November 29, 2013—On November 19, 2013, Renas Ahmad Aiyub, member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), was shot and killed at a wedding. According to eyewitness accounts, Aiyub was involved in a dispute. Fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) arrived from a nearby checkpoint and attempted to separate the disputed parties at gunpoint. Allegedly, a YPG‑fighter accidentally fired the shot that killed Aiyub while loading his weapon.

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KURDWATCH, November 26, 2013—Within a short time frame of a few hours on November 23, 2013, three car bombs exploded in al‑Qamishli and the surrounding area. The first attack was directed at the Syrian regime’s largest checkpoint on a busy roundabout five kilometers south of the city. The second bomb exploded in front of the office of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in the district of Qanat as‑Suwais. The third attack took place in the PYD-controlled village of Tall Maʿruf (fifteen kilometers southeast of al‑Qamishli) and was directed against the party headquarters located within a school. According to Islamist sources, these were targeted attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant against the regime and its supporters. Exact information about the number of victims is not available. Islamist sources mention more than forty dead; PYD sources mention three dead without listing their names. The Syrian regime has not yet commented on the number of victims.

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KURDWATCH, November 26, 2013—On November 21, 2013, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized another demonstration against Masʿud Barzani, the president of Iraqi-Kurdistan, in ʿAmudah. Similar to the demonstration in ʿAfrin [further information], Barzani was also described in ʿAmudah as a »traitor and collaborator« due to his meeting with the Turkish prime minister Erdoğan on November 17 in Diyarbakır. Only eight days earlier, the PYD had prohibited a Kurdish National Council demonstration in ʿAmudah to mark the 63. anniversary of the ʿAmudah cinema fire [download PDF] due to the general political situation [further information].

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KURDWATCH, November 25, 2013—On November 13, 2013, the Syrian oil minister, Sulayman al‑ʿAbbas, paid a visit to representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Rumailan. According to eyewitnesses, the Asayiş, the security service of the PYD, had the empty oil drums that mark PYD checkpoints painted blue prior to the visit. They had been previously painted in the Kurdish colors of red, yellow, and green. In addition to PYD members, Arab tribal leaders from the National Defense Army also took part in the conversation with al‑ʿAbbas. The minister allegedly promised the involved parties a fixed percentage of oil revenues. The PYD’s share is said to be twenty percent.

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KURDWATCH, November 25, 2013—On November 14, 2013, several dozen members of the ruling Baʿth party organized a demonstration in the center of al‑Qamishli. The demonstrators chanted slogans such as »Baʿthists, take to the streets« and »We will sacrifice our blood and our soul for you, Bashar«. Two days prior in al‑Qamishli, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) had announced the formation of a local transitional administration for the Kurdish regions.

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KURDWATCH, November 25, 2013—On November 18, 2013, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a demonstration in ʿAfrin against Masʿud Barzani, the president of Iraqi-Kurdistan. Barzani, who was received by the Turkish prime minister Erdoğan and ten thousand visitors in Diyarbakır on November 17,, was described as a »traitor and collaborator«. A few days earlier, on November 14, Barzani had made a statement condemning the politics of the PYD. He said that the PYD claims to have started the revolution in Syria, but is in fact cooperating with the Syria regime, which has ceded the Kurdish regions to the PYD. According to Barzani, the PYD is against national unity. It uses armed force against other Syrian-Kurdish parties and excludes the other parties in unilaterally declaring the self-administration of Western Kurdistan. Barzani had initially tried to check the power of the PYD with the Erbil agreement [download agreement], but this approach failed.

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KURDWATCH, November 25, 2013—On November 12, 2013, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a conference in al‑Qamishli to establish a local administration. The Kurdish National Council did not attend the event as the PYD had convened it without any consultation, even though the National Council was at the same time negotiating with the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan over the exact terms for establishing a joint local administration. Only representatives of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Party and the two factions of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria took part in the conference. Fathullah Husayni, member of the Central Committee of Muhammad Musa Muhammad’s Kurdish Left Party, told KurdWatch: »We are not against the decision of the Kurdish National Council, of which we are a member. But the Kurdish National Council distanced itself from the transitional administration very suddenly. We as a party will always take part in such an administration. It is a legitimate right of our people.« An eighty-two person founding council was elected at the conference.

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KURDWATCH, November 23, 2013—On November 16, 2013, the International Day for Tolerance, several hundred people in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) demonstrated for tolerance and understanding among peoples. The Kurdish National Council and the Assyrian Democratic Organization organized the rally.

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KURDWATCH, November 21, 2013—On November 13, 2013, to mark the 63rd anniversary of the cinema fire in ʿAmudah [download PDF], several dozen members of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) as well as other activists laid flowers at the memorial for the dead. A demonstration announced by the Kurdish National Council was again canceled after the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), had stated that it would prohibit »unauthorized demonstrations.« The PYD had additionally called for abstaining from demonstrations in light of the current political situation. The PYD itself raised its flag at the memorial for the dead, a gesture that an activist described to KurdWatch as an »unbearable provocation« that »not even the Baʿth regime allowed itself.«

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KURDWATCH, November 21, 2013—At a press conference on October 21, 2013, activists announced the founding of the National Organization of Kurdish Youth, a coalition of the Union of Cooperation of Kurdish Youth and several smaller Kurdish youth organizations. To the question of whether this was a new party, founding member Munzir Iskan told KurdWatch: »No, we are not a party, but an organization with a clear political line. Moreover, we want to partake in important political decisions alongside the Kurdish parties.« Sarbaz Farman, a founding member of the Union of the Cooperation of Kurdish Youth, explained: »The majority of our members were no longer active. The rest have joined the new organization. I myself do not believe that a new youth organization can achieve anything. The PYD has too much power.«

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KURDWATCH, November 18, 2013—On October 27, 2013, a decision by the Syrian prime minister to dismiss five teachers in ʿAmudah from public service came to light. The teachers in question are Khidr ʿIsa, Ahmad ʿAlo, Yunis Asʿad, Walid al‑Husaini, and Anas Mijwal. The reasons behind the decision are not known. Although ʿAmudah has been controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) since December 2012, the Syrian government, which continues to pay the salaries of civil servants, can still make such far-reaching personnel decisions. Khidr ʿIsa, member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), told KurdWatch: »Members of the school board in ʿAmudah informed us verbally that they were no longer allowed to pay us salaries. We did not receive a copy of the decision. We don’t even know the official reason for our dismissal.«

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KURDWATCH, November 18, 2013—In the night from November 9 to November 10, 2013, the office of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) was burned to the ground. The cause of the fire has not yet been resolved. In recent months, the offices of parties that are critical to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) have been repeatedly set on fire, especially the offices of el‑Partî, the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), and Mustafa Jumʿah’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî).

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KURDWATCH, November 18, 2013—On October 28, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) started an offensive against fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Jabhat an‑Nusrah south and west of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). The fighting was concentrated in the villages of Tall Halaf and Asfar Najjar and in the surrounding villages. On November 2, YPG‑fighters were able to expel their opponents from the villages of al-Qasir, Tall Diyab, Bir Nuh, and al‑Asadiyah (approximately ten kilometers southeast of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn). On November 5, they also captured Tall Halaf. Accordingly, there are currently no more Islamist units in the immediate vicinity of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn. The main access roads into the city are controlled by the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, November 15, 2013—On November 8, 2013, several thousand people commemorated the murdered student Dunya Ashraf as‑Sinnu (b. 1995 in ad‑Darbasiyah) [further information on the case]. It was the first demonstration by activists in ad‑Darbasiyah since July 20, 2013. In the wake of the attack by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) on activists and members of other parties in ʿAmudah at the end of June 2013 [further information] other groups had gradually ceased their protests.

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KURDWATCH, November 15 2013—On November 11, 2013, the National Coalition in Istanbul appointed the first Syrian government in exile. A total of eight out of eleven government ministries as well as the position of deputy prime minister were filled; the candidates reached the minimum number of votes necessary. The ministries that have been filled are the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Ministry of Communications and Industry, the Ministry of Local Administration, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Energy and Livestock, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Agriculture, and the Ministry of Culture and the Family. Ibrahim Miro, a non-partisan Kurd who previously worked for the Dutch National Bank, was elected Minister of Finance and Economy. The positions of Minister of Health, Minister of the Interior, and Minister of Education remain vacant.

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KURDWATCH, November 10, 2013—On October 31, 2013, fighters for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant occupied the offices of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) and Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) in ar‑Raqqah. Ar‑Raqqah is a predominantly Arab city eighty kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) with a large Kurdish minority. A Yekîtî member told KurdWatch: »The attackers accused us of providing refuge for members of the PKK in our offices. An absurd pretense to occupy our offices.«

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KURDWATCH, November 10, 2013—On October 28, 2013, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a demonstration in al‑Malikiyah to celebrate the capture of the al‑Yaʿrubiyah (Tel Koçer) border crossing on October 26, 2013 [further information]. According to information from the PYD, several thousand people took part in the demonstration.

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KURDWATCH, November 8, 2013—On October 29, 2013, the student Dunya Ashraf as‑Sinnu (b. 1995 in ad‑Darbasiyah) was killed by a shot to the head during a shootout at a Syrian security forces’ checkpoint in al‑Hasakah. No one, including her family, has exact information about her death. Until now it is assumed that the bullet from the security forces hit her accidentally.

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KURDWATCH, November 7, 2013—On October 30 2013, several dozen people took part in a demonstration in ʿAmudah against price increases. Prior to the demonstration the organizers had obtained the permission of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Saʿd Saʿid ʿAbdulʿaziz, an activist from ʿAmudah, who fled from the PYD and is currently living in Turkey, stated to KurdWatch: »It was not a demonstration by the persecuted activists from ʿAmudah. The organizers of the demonstration have and have always had good relations with the PYD.«

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KURDWATCH, November 7, 2013—On October 26, 2013, members of the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan called upon border officials—including those appointed by the Kurdish National Council—in Faysh Khabur, east of al‑Malikiya (Dêrik), to leave their posts. The Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) took control and closed the border crossing, which henceforth will be run solely as a border post. A few hours prior, the YPG, with the support of Syrian and Iraqi units, captured another border crossing to Iraq from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) [further information].

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KURDWATCH, November 4, 2013—On October 26, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) captured the Syrian-Iraqi border crossing al‑Yaʿrubiya (Tel Koçer) from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamist units following heavy fighting. The YPG had tanks at its disposal and was supported by Iraqi artillery and the Syrian Air Force. Units of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the Jabhat an‑Nusrah were among those fighting on the side of the FSA.

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KURDWATCH, November 1, 2013—Since early October 2013, the Turkish government has been building a wall along the Syrian border between the cities of al‑Qamishli and Nusaybin. According to media reports, the wall will be approximately two meters high and with barbed wire placed on top. Thus far there have been no official statements regarding the construction of the wall. According to information from the Turkish government, an additional wall, which will be approximately two and a half kilometers long, is planned in Hatay Province. It is unclear what such measures can accomplish in light of the nine hundred kilometer border between Syria and Turkey.

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KURDWATCH, October 30, 2013—The prisoners in the central prison in Aleppo are suffering from malnutrition. Jigarkhwin Mula Ahmad, a recently released inmate, stated to KurdWatch: »For more than two months, the prisoners received only one glass of flour and one glass of water per day. They burned articles of clothing and other objects in order to cook or bake the flour. Dozens have died in recent months due to malnourishment. Under these circumstances any infection, even a mild flu, can lead to death.«

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KURDWATCH, October 30, 2013—On March 19, 2012, Hammudah ʿAdnan Hamkiro (b. 1989 in ʿAfrin) was arrested by members of the Military Intelligence Service. Hamkiro had deserted from military service in January 2012. He had been drafted even though he did not need to perform military service under Syrian law since he was his parents’ only son. In March 2012, he wanted to make use of a decree, according to which deserters would not be punished if they turned themselves in to security forces. Hamkiro was nevertheless arrested and was brutally tortured by members of the Military Intelligence Service until June 2012. Since June 2012 he has been held in the central prison in Aleppo.

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KURDWATCH, October 24, 2013—On October 13, 2013, explosive devices were detonated in front of a hotel in the city center as well as in front of the customs office in the district of Qudurbak in al‑Qamishli. Two people were killed in the first explosion. The reasons behind the explosions are not yet known.

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KURDWATCH, October 23, 2013—On October 18, 2013, approximately fifty activists participated in a demonstration in the western district of al‑Qamishli. Those gathered called for the release of the writer Husayn ʿIso [further information on the case] and other Kurdish prisoners from Syrian government prisons. Various youth groups and parties of the Kurdish National Council organized the protest.

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KURDWATCH, October 22, 2013—On September 11, 2013, the Terrorism Court in Damascus released the student and activist Jigarkhwin ʿAbdurrazzaq Mula Ahmad [further information on the case] from custody on bail, in so doing the court granted a petition by his attorney. Mula Ahmad was arrested on March 3, 2012 in Aleppo. Due to ongoing fighting, his case was transferred from the Military Court in Aleppo to the Terrorism Court in Damascus. Three judges, including one military judge, preside over the court, which was initiated by Presidential Decree 22 on July 15 2012. The defendants include both civilians and members of the military. On October 13, employees of the Syrian Red Crescent as well as the International Red Cross received Mula Ahmad in Aleppo. It is not yet known when the next court hearing will take place.

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KURDWATCH, 20, October 2013—On October 15, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Latifiyah (seven kilometers east of al‑Qamishli) fatally shot Husayn ʿAbdussalam Shakir (b. 1985 in al‑Qamishli, married, one child) and injured his cousin Erish ʿAbdulmajid Shakir. Hasan ʿAbdussalam Shakir, the twin brother of the deceased who is based in Germany, stated to KurdWatch: »It was the first day of the Feast of Sacrifice, my family had many guests. My cousin Erish offered tea to the YPG‑members who had set up a checkpoint in front of our front door and then politely asked them to move the checkpoint slightly. It was too close to our front door. The YPG‑members immediately became aggressive. They insulted my cousin and then tried to arrest him. When my brother Husayn tried to help him, the YPG‑men shot at the two of them. My brother died and my cousin’s leg was injured.«

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KURDWATCH, October 19, 2013—On September 27, 2013, two dozen activists participated in a demonstration in the district of al‑ʿAntariyah in al‑Qamishli. Their banners were directed against »attacks by terrorist groups« and called for »freedom and federalism« in the Kurdish regions. The demonstration, which was organized by the general committee of the Kurdish Youth, and the independent Kurdish youth movement, both member organization of the Kurdish National Council, was the first demonstration by activists since July 20, 2013. Due to the attacks by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) on activists and members of other parties at the end of June 2013 in ʿAmudah [further information], independent activists had suspended their dissident demonstrations.

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KURDWATCH, October 16, 2013—On September 30, 2013, Muhammad Hasan (b. 1991 in al‑Qamishli), law student and member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), was killed in a mine explosion while trying to cross the Syrian-Turkish border into Turkey near ad‑Darbasiyah.

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KurdWatch, October 14, 2013—On July 10, 2013, Jamal Ahmad ʿAli (b. in ad‑Darbasiyah) was arrested at a National Defense Force checkpoint in the majority Kurdish district of Wadi al‑Mashariʿ (Zorava) in Damascus. Muhammad Sadiq ʿAbdurrahman ʿUthman, a fellow prisoner, who has since been released [further information on the case], stated to KurdWatch: »When Jamal Ahmad ʿAli was stopped at the checkpoint, he was threatened with arrest if he did not pay one hundred thousand Syrian liras. He could not come up with this sum, therefore he was brought to us in the National Defense Force prison. Jamal was brutally tortured for six days. His back and legs were burned with boiling cooking oil.« ʿAli is accused of having helped soldiers to desert.

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KURDWATCH, October 13, 2013—On September 4, 2013, Muhammad Sadiq ʿAbdurrahman ʿUthman (b. 1997 in Damascus), Rakan Musa (b. 1996) [further information on the case] and Zuhair Musa (b. 1998 in Damascus), who was also arrested with them, were released from custody for health reasons three months after their arrest. The three minors were accused of having participated in attacks in Damascus. Their trial is scheduled for October 21, 2013. ʿUthman stated to KurdWatch: »In the first six weeks we were brutally tortured during every interrogation. I was interrogated seven times. Each time I was tortured with clubs and whips as well as with electric schocks until I lost consciousness. Then I was roused with cold water in order to be tortured more. My fellow prisoners were also tortured, even fifteen-year-old Zuhair.« The young men were initially presented along with other detainees to a military judge, however he referred their case to a civil court. They were held in a prison run by the National Defense Force, one of the civilian militias armed by the Syrian government. Their last three days in custody were spent with the military police. There they were tortured once again.

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KURDWATCH, October 11, 2013—On September 23, 2013, fighters for the Jabhat an‑Nusrah stopped a coach at a check point near Dair az‑Zawr and kidnapped Suhayl Faris Khisho (b. 1968 in al‑Hasakah). He was released on October 5.

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KURDWATCH, October 9, 2013—On October 1, 2013, the body of Kawa Khalid Husayn (b. 1962 in Burj ʿAbdallu, married, four children), member of Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), was found in the village of Khaltan near Jindiras. Along with evidence of torture, the body exhibited several bullet wounds to the chest and head. Mustafa Jumʿa stated to KurdWatch: »Kawa Husayn had been held in a Democratic Union Party (PYD) prison for twelve days. Therefore, it is clear that the PYD is responsible for his death. We condemn this crime and call on the PYD to release all of our prisoners.«

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KURDWATCH, October 8, 2013—On July 10, 2013, fighters for the Islamist organization, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, kidnapped Muhiyuddin Bahri Shaykhmus (married, nine children) from a friend’s house south of Tall ʿUluw (twenty kilometers from al‑Qahtaniyah [Tirbesipî]). Shaykhmus was returning from a visit to a tenant who works farmland in his possession. A witness saw the kidnapped victim’s identification and vehicle in the possession of the al‑Battar battalion, which is part of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. According to KurdWatch sources, the organization hasn’t been operating in the Kurdish regions in months, and is only active in the area around Aleppo. There is no information about the whereabouts of the kidnapped victim. Rezan Bahri Shaykhmus, brother of the victim and chairman of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria’s Office of General Communication, stated to KurdWatch: »My brother was never politically active. He also never carried large sums of money; therefore we know nothing about the motive for his kidnapping.«

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KURDWATCH, October 8, 2013—On September 20, 2013, armed members of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed the house of Nuri ʿUthman Mamo (sixty years old, married, six children) in Shaikh al‑Hadid (Şiyê, thirty kilometers west of ʿAfrin), kidnapping Mamo and his brother ʿInayat Mamo (forty-three years old, married, five children) and also taking possession of a hunting rifle and a motorcycle. Both brothers were released two days later, but were immediately detained again by the Asayiş for another four days following their release. A sister-in-law of the brothers stated to KurdWatch: »A Kurd from Turkey and two Syrian Kurds from the Jazirah interrogated my brothers-in-law. They were accused of possessing four hundred kilos of hashish, which the Asayiş claims to have found. My brother-in-law Nuri said ironically that he would then be owed a larger share of the profit and that this would improve his financial situation significantly. Then he demanded that his kidnappers come up with more credible lies and that they shouldn’t make a fool of themselves. Later my brothers-in-law were asked about their relationship to the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria and were accused of recruiting young men and providing them with military training. My brother-in-law Nuri was a senior member of the Azadî’s predecessor party, but he hasn’t been politically active in years.«

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KURDWATCH, October 5, 2013—On September 8, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) stormed the home of ʿAbdurrahman Muhammad Naʿso, a member of the politburo of Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), and kidnapped him. The politician had already been detained by the YPG for several days in early March 2013.

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KURDWATCH, October 5, 2013—From September 6 to September 13  2013, heavy fighting occurred in the Shaykh Maqsud district in Aleppo between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the PYD unit the Kurdish Front Brigade and units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The FSA failed in its attempt to capture the Kurdish district. The fighting resumed between September 20 and 24. Exact information about the number of victims is not available.

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KURDWATCH, October 3, 2013—On September 7, 2013, representatives of the Kurdish National Council and the largest Syrian oppositional alliance, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, signed the draft of an agreement. A large majority in both the general assembly of Kurdish National Council and the National Coalition’s Political Committee later confirmed the draft. The document describes a sixteen-point path to solving the Kurdish issue. Under point one, the National Coalition pledges »the recognition of the national identity and the rights of the Kurdish people«. This satisfies one of the main Kurdish demands, which is the recognition of the Kurds as an independent people rather than a minority. Dr. Kamal al-Labwani was the only member of the National Coalition’s Political Committee to reject the agreement. He justified his stance by explaining that recognizing a second people alongside the Syrian people would be a step toward a racist division of his home country and, considering the country’s geography, toward a long civil war. During a session that took place from September 13 to 15, the National Coalition’s general assembly also accepted the document with fifty-four of eighty votes. The Kurdish National Council must now name the representatives who will take part in the next meeting of the Coalition.

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KURDWATCH, September 30, 2013—When the protests in Syria began in in the spring of 2011, many observers assumed that the Kurds would play a key role in the overthrow of the regime. Although the Kurdish opposition had fragmented into more than a dozen political parties, it was the best organized part of the Syrian opposition as a whole. In fact, the Kurdish opposition has played only a minor part in the uprisings thus far. The following report analyzes the reasons for this. In addition, it follows up on our report »Who is the Syrian-Kurdish opposition? The development of Kurdish parties, 1956—2011« and sketches the developments since October 2011. As new oppositional actors have entered the political arena with the youth groups and the Kurdish units within the Free Syrian Army (FSA), this report takes a broader definition of the term »opposition«.

 [Download PDF]

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KURDWATCH, September 29, 2013—On September 21, 2013, the central committee of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Party decided to leave the Kurdish National Council. The same day, a meeting took place between leading members of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Party and the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The decision was made to form a cooperation committee. In a press release, the parties additionally declared their commitment to a broad political agreement and announced that in the future they will pursue their work within the framework of a common strategy.

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KURDWATCH, September 26, 2013 – On September 7, 8 and 9  2013, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) kidnapped numerous members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) [further information]. A dozen party members remain in custody, including Jigar Jaʿfar Hammu, Mustafa Shaikh Saʿidi, Bayazid Maʿmo, Siamand Brimo, Saʿid ʿIso, Murad Nabi Hasan, ʿAbdo Halabi, and ʿAdnan ʿAlo. Hammu and Saʿidi are accused of responsibility for the explosion in front of the PYD‑office in ʿAfrin on August 22, 2013 [further information]. According to statements by el-Partî, the detainees are subjected to brutal torture. An el‑Partî member stated to KurdWatch: »The PYD releases ten people, but that same night dozens more are kidnapped.«

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KURDWATCH, September 25, 2013 – On September 17, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped thirty people at the border to Iraqi-Kurdistan. The majority of those in question are members of the newly founded Union of Democratic Students and Youth of Kurdistan, who were returning from their organization’s founding conference in Erbil. One of the kidnapped victims stated to KurdWatch: »We were held in al‑Malikiyah in an Asayiş prison, and we were treated badly. About twenty people were confined for hours in a cell in an area of no more than four square meters. They wanted to know what we were doing Iraqi-Kurdistan.« The kidnapped victims were released on September 18.

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KURDWATCH, September 18, 2013—On September 8, 2013, the Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan signed a nine-point plan, which contains principles for the transitional administration of the Kurdish regions. The preamble emphasizes that this »does not mean a secession from Syria and presents no threat to neighboring states«. In addition, it invites all Kurdish parties, other Syrian demographic groups such as Arabs, Assyrians, and Armenians, as well as civil society organizations to discuss and support the draft. A total of nine points follow:
1. After reaching agreement with the other groups, a committee to prepare a draft of a transitional constitution will be formed within a period of no more than forty days.
2. Each party will name representatives for the transitional committee.
3. Immediately after drafting the transitional constitution, the transitional committee will form a Joint Democratic Transitional Administration.
4. The transitional committee is authorized to prepare a democratic electoral law.
5. The transitional administration is part of the executive power and establishes institutions to facilitate its administrative, political, economic, social, and cultural work as well as to ensure protection and security.
6. Protection and security forces are tasked with ensuring security and stability in the Kurdish and in the mixed regions. They are patriotic institutions, adhere to all international laws and conventions, and are accountable to the transitional administration.
7. Fair, democratic elections will be carried out within a period of six months after the formation of the transitional administration. International and local observers, as well as civil society and human rights organizations, are free to observe the elections.
8. The elected General Council of the transitional administration will assume the capacity of legislative power and will represent all demographic groups in the Kurdish and in the mixed regions.
9. The General Council is authorized to prepare a constitution that respects human rights and is consistent with international conventions and traditions.

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KURDWATCH, September 16, 2013—On August 25, 2013 fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) occupied the home of ʿAbdulhamid Bilal in Qastal Mukhtar (fifteen kilometers north of ʿAfrin). Bilal is currently receiving medical treatment in Turkey; his family also no longer lives in Qastal Mukhtar. His daughter Fatima ʿAbdulhamid Bilal stated to KurdWatch: »I call on the PYD to leave poor people in peace. They should leave our home. My father is no longer in Syria because of his health. Many others are leaving their homes and villages, because through its deeds and provocations, the PYD is bringing radical fighters to ʿAfrin.« Several sources have reported to KurdWatch that PYD supporters are preventing residents of ʿAfrin and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab from leaving the region. The PYD accomplishes this, in part, by threatening to occupy empty homes.

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KUDWATCH, September 15, 2013—On September 1, 2013, the activist Ahmad Farman Bunjuq (b.  April 14, 1994), member of the Union of Students from al‑Qamishli, was shot from a moving car. Before this he had been tailed for several days. Shortly after the shooting he succumbed to his head and chest injuries. While returning from a military camp in Iraqi-Kurdistan on February 19, 2013, Bunjuq had been kidnapped by the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and held for about three months. An activist told KurdWatch that the PYD is assumed responsible for the murder of Bundschuq. The victim’s father did not want to comment on the case. On their end, the PYD publicly condemned Bunjuq’s murder.

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KURDWATCH, September 12, 2013—On September 7 and 8 2013, dozens of fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) besieged and then stormed the ʿAfrin office of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) and stole documents. Local committee member Mustafa Khalil Qadi and the party members Ahmad Salih and Shaʿban Bahri were kidnapped during the raid.

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KURDWATCH, September 12, 2013—On September 7, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) stormed dozens of homes in ʿAfrin and Jindiras belonging to members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) and abducted a number of people. Among the kidnapped are ʿAbdo Hasan, Jigar Jaʿfar Hammu, Jangin Hasan, Azad Fauzi Rashid, Ibash Barakat, Husayn Muhammad Husayn, and Rashid Saydo.

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KURDWATCH, September 9, 2013—The commission formed by the president of Iraqi-Kurdistan, Masʿud Barzani, to investigate the alleged massacres of Kurdish civilians in Syria [further information] has completed its work. In a statement the speaker for the office of the president, Dr. Amid Sabah, summarized the results of the commission’s investigation. The commission spent five days in Syria’s Kurdish regions and questioned around four hundred people. No evidence was found to suggest that Kurdish civilians were targeted victims of Islamist groups. On the contrary, according to the commission, fighting took place only between various armed groups.
The commission’s findings agree with KurdWatch’s understanding of the situation. In a press release in early August 2013, KurdWatch questioned Russian foreign minister Lavrov’s statements that Islamic groups had murdered four hundred fifty Kurdish civilians near Tall Abyad. Kurdwatch also doubted statements claiming that civilians were the victims of targeted murder in the villages of Tall Hasil and Tall ʿAran [further information]. Even then, KurdWatch proceeded from the assumption that the civilian victims were people killed as a result of the armed conflicts between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and Islamist groups.
The events of ʿAmudah in late June, when YPG fighters killed eight people during a demonstration critical of the PYD and subsequently kidnapped dozens of others [further information], could not be investigated. The members of the commission were denied entry into the city of ʿAmudah by the PYD’s security apparatus.

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KURDWATCH, September 4, 2013—On August 22, 2013, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped the activist Nubar Farhan Ismaʿil (b. 1986 in al‑Qamishli), member of the media office of the SAWA‑Coalition. The background for the abduction is unknown.

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KURDWATCH, September 4, 2013—On August 23, 2013, the Supreme Kurdish Committee’s local committee in ʿAfrin demonstrated against attacks by Islamist units on the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). In addition, the approximately one thousand participants, including supporters of the Kurdish National Council, condemned the attack on a PYD office the day before [further information].

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KURDWATCH, September 3, 2013—On August 22, 2013, there was an explosion in front of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) office in ʿAfrin. The reasons for the explosion remain unclear. ʿArifah ʿAli and three of her children, Huda ʿAgid, Yasmin ʿAgid, and Muhammad ʿAgid, were killed. The Asayiş, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service, has accused Mustafa Jumʿah’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) of being responsible for the attack.

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KURDWATCH, September 3, 2013—On August 26, 2013, Mustafa Jumʿah’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) announced in a statement that it has left the Syrian National Council. The decision was made a few days after the Kurdish National Council set a deadline for all of its members to implement an earlier political decision according to which the parties must withdraw from all other political associations.

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KURDWATCH, August 30, 2013 – On August 7, 2013, heavy clashes occurred about fifteen kilometers west of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Kurdish Front Brigade on the one side and Free Syrian Army (FSA) units, the Jabhat an‑Nusrah, and the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant on the other. On August 10, seven FSA‑units concluded a peace agreement with the representatives of the Supreme Kurdish Committee. The units in question were the at‑Twhid-Brigade, the al‑Islam-Brigade, the Suqur-ash‑Sham-Brigade, the Jund-al‑Haramayn-Brigade, the Ashabu-al‑Yamin-Brigade, the Ahrar-ash‑Shuyukh-Battalion, and the Ahrar-ash‑Sham-al‑Islamiyah-Movement. The Jabhat an‑Nusrah and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were not part of the agreement. On August 15, 2013, fighting once again took place between these two groups and the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, August 26, 2013—On August 19, 2013, one person was killed and approximately twenty more suffered minor injuries in an air attack by the Syrian Air Force on the city of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). One bomb hit the bus station in the city center; another exploded in the northeastern part of the city. For more than a year, al‑Malikiyah has been controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD); the city was taken over from the government without conflict [further information]. The reason behind the attack is unknown. Islamist units, which are fighting against both the regime and the PYD, are stationed at least fifteen kilometers away from al‑Malikiyah. According to unconfirmed reports, the attacking military plane took off from the airport in al‑Qamishli, which is controlled by the PYD.

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KURDWATCH, August 25, 2013—In early August 2013 the president of Iraqi-Kurdistan, Masʿud Barzani, proposed the establishment of a commission to investigate the alleged massacres of Kurdish civilians in Syria's Kurdish regions in late June to early August 2013. An Iranian news network reported that Islamist fighters near Tall Abyad had allegedly killed four hundred fifty Kurdish civilians. These numbers were echoed by the Russian foreign minister. There was also talk of massacres in the villages of Tall Hasil and Tall ʿAran [further information]. In contrast, independent activists have reported to KurdWatch that there is no targeted campaign to annihilate the Kurds, but rather only the conflicts between the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) and Islamist units. Civilians are also reportedly killed in these conflicts, but in far smaller numbers than assumed. The PYD initially rejected the establishment of an investigative commission with the explanation this would only serve »the enemies of the Kurds«. Ultimately an eight-member investigative team passed through the Faysh Khabur border crossing on August 19. The team includes a representative from the PKK headquarters in Iraqi-Kurdistan, one Kurd from both Turkish- and Iranian-Kurdistan, and one member each from the Iraqi-Kurdish Kurdistan Islamic Union, Masʿud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masʿud Barzani's presidential office, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and ʿAbdulhakim Bashar's Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria(el‑Partî).

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KURDWATCH, August 25, 2013 - On August 15, the Kurdish Front Brigade, an armed unit of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released a statement that it was withdrawing its fighters from the districts of al‑Bab and Azaz, in other words from the region between ʿAfrin and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). This step was justified as for the »safety of civilians«. There are various Kurdish villages in the aforementioned predominantly Arab regions. Units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), including Islamist groups that were involved in fighting with the PYD and its armed militia, have controlled the regions for almost two years.

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KURDWATCH, August 25, 2013—On August 16, 2013, fighters for the Jabhat an‑Nusrah fired at an ambulance near the Yazidi village of al‑Asadiya near Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), killing the nurse Khabat Farhan.

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KURDWATCH, August 20, 2013—On August 15, 2013, several thousand people, mostly whole families, gathered on the Syrian side of the Faysh Khabur border crossing, located east of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). They waited for hours in temperatures close to forty degrees for the border to open. The Kurdish regional government (KRG) had closed the border on May 20, 2013 due to the kidnapping of seventy-six members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar's Kurdish Democratic Party (el‑Partî) by fighters for the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) [further information]. Late in the afternoon, at least five thousand people passed over the provisional bridge toward Iraqi-Kurdistan.

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KURDWATCH, August 18, 2013—Muhammad Khair Qanjo continues to be detained by the PYD. He took part in the anti-PYD demonstration in ʿAmudah on June 27, 2013 [further information] and was kidnapped by the PYD along with dozens of other activists that same day. ʿAbdurrahim Tikhubi, member of the Cooperation of the Youth of ʿAmudah, told KurdWatch: »Qanjo is accused of throwing stones at PYD posters and banners. PYD/YPG martyrs were depicted on the posters. Qanjo has admitted to the deed.« Aside from Qanjo, all those who were detained by the PYD in connection with the demonstration in ʿAmudah have since been released.

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KURDWATCH, August 18, 2013—On August 12, 2013, dozens of fighters for the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) stormed the village of Mirkan (approximately ten kilometers west of ʿAfrin) and searched numerous homes. An activist told KurdWatch: »The attackers frightened the residents and in some cases beat them. Private weapons that they need for self-protection were confiscated.« Three members of Mustafa Jumʿa's Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria, Ayman Mustafa Sino, Muhammad Sulayman Seydo, and Muhammad Anwar Sino, were kidnapped by the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, August 15, 2013—On July 28 and 29, 2013, Free Syrian Army (FSA) units attacked the Kurdish Front Brigade's positions in the Kurdish villages of Tall Hasil and Tall ʿAran, a few kilometers southeast of the international airport in Aleppo, and brought the villages under its control. A dozen of the brigade's fighters were reportedly killed in the process. Numerous village residents, mostly supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), were allegedly kidnapped. According to PYD‑media, around forty civilians were killed; however, the images released in this context consist of older photos of dead civilians in Latakia and a video from Haddad (twenty-five kilometers south of al‑Qahtaniyah [Tirbesipî]). A source close to the FSA told KurdWatch: »Kurdish FSA units were not involved in the fighting against the Kurdish Front Brigade. Since their capture, however, the villages have been policed by Kurdish FSA units, including the Azadî Battalion.« The Kurdish Front Brigade is a unit of the PYD that does not officially appear as such. In April 2013, it briefly fought with the FSA against government troops in Aleppo [further information].

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KURDWATCH, August 13, 2013—On August 9, 2013, employees of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service (Asayiş) in ʿAmudah detained Kurdish National Council member Walat Muhammad Amin ʿUje to his critical comments about the PYD in a television interview given the same day. The activist was released a few hours later. He stated to KurdWatch: »The PYD claimed that a fighter for the People’s Defense Units (YPG) was killed in a bomb attack on August 7 in ʿAmudah. In the interview, I questioned whether there had even been a bomb attack in ʿAmudah. The Asayiş first brought me to the supposed place of the attack and showed me the traces. Afterwards they brought me to the cemetery, to the grave of a YPG‑member who was allegedly killed in the attack. Now I know that there was an attack and that someone is dead. But I still cannot say whether that person was killed in this attack specifically.« Another activist stated to KurdWatch: »We believe that the PYD faked attacks on August 6 and 7 in order to prevent large gatherings on the fortieth day after the bloodbath in ʿAmudah [further information]. We have information that the YPG‑fighter was not killed in the explosion but somewhere else.«

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KURDWATCH, August 13, 2013—On August 7, 2013, Ahmad ʿAbdulqadir Simo (b. in Tall Tamr, married, two children, known as Khabat Simo), member of the Kurdish National Council’s General Secretariat and an active member of its local committee in the district of Ruknuddin in Damascus, was released after two months in the custody of the Political Security Directorate [further information on the case]. Simo stated to KurdWatch: »I was brutally tortured and was held with forty prisoners in a very cramped cell. There was very little to eat and no medical care. During interrogations, I was accused of being politically active and having helped refugees in Damascus.«

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KURDWATCH, August 12, 2013—On August 7, 2013, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) imposed a curfew in both ʿAmudah and ad‑Darbasiyah. According to what an activist from ad‑Darbasiyah told KurdWatch, the curfew was imposed »to prevent the people from commemorating those who were killed in PYD attacks on a demonstration in ʿAmudah at the end of June« [further information]. Traditionally, a visit is paid to the grave of the deceased on the fortieth day after death. In ʿAmudah, the official reason given for the curfew was the death of a child by a bomb on the same day. Although the populace did not observe the curfew, there were no conflicts.

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KURDWATCH, August 12, 2013—On August 5, 2013, Free Syrian Army (FSA) units captured the largest Syrian helicopter base in Minnagh (fifteen kilometers east of ʿAfrin). The FSA had laid siege to the landing spot for more than six months; the soldiers entrenched there could only be supplied with food and ammunition by air. After the capture, approximately seventy soldiers fled to ʿAfrin, where they were treated at the hospital. According to unconfirmed information, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), which control ʿAfrin, evacuated the injured soldiers. The YPG claims to have confiscated five Syrian tanks.

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KurdWatch, August 7, 2013—On July 22, 2013, eleven year old Nalin Mahmud Taqraq was killed when a residence in southern Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) was shelled by rockets. Several family members were severely injured. Nalin's ten year old sister Sherin succumbed to her injuries on July 28. The rockets allegedly originated from the Islamist Jabhat an‑Nusrah, which was driven out of the city by the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) in July [further information]. The Jabhat an‑Nusrah controls several villages in the south and west of the city and continues to have small skirmishes with the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, August 7, 2013—In the early morning of July 30, 2013, ʿIsa Haso (b. 1954, married, ten children), member of the Supreme Kurdish Committee and the People's Council of Western Kurdistan, was killed when a bomb hidden in his car exploded. There is nothing known about the reasons for the attack.

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KURDWATCH, August 7, 2013—On July 24, 2013, a meeting took place ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) between members of the local committee of the Kurdish National Council and the People's Council of Western Kurdistan. Both sides agreed to form a joint political committee to administer ʿAyn al‑ʿArab. According to a statement by the local committee of the Kurdish National Council, in this way, social peace in the Kurdish regions will be protected. After the attacks by the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) in ʿAmudah [further information], the Kurdish National Council's committee from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab had left the Supreme Kurdish Committee, in which both the People's Council of Western Kurdistan and the Kurdish National Council hold fifty percent of the representation, in protest. The meeting took place in the wake of increased fighting between the YPG and Islamic units of the Free Syrian Army, especially in neighboring Tall Abyad[further information].

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KURDWATCH, August 6, 2013—On July 30, 2013, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released ʿAbdurrahim Tikhubi, member of the Cooperation of the Youth of ʿAmudah. Tikhubi was kidnapped by the Asayiş on July 8, 2013 [further information on the case]. He told KurdWatch: »I was beaten lightly only on the first day. But they threatened me and tried to get me to tell them the location of other activists who had fled so they could arrest them. When they released me, they demanded that I no longer pursue bad activities. What they actually meant was that I stop all activities that are not in agreement with the politics of the PYD.«

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KURDWATCH, August 6, 2013—From July 16 to 19 2013, heavy fighting occurred between combatants for the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) and various Islamic units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The fighting took place near the oil field as‑Suwaidiyah 2 near al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), twenty kilometers south of Tall Adas (Gir Zîro), as well as near the oilfield as‑Suwaidiyah 3, thirteen kilometers south of Tall Adas. According to information from the YPG, at least four of its fighters were killed. Fighting also occurred near the villages of Haddad and Tall Hamira, twenty-five kilometers south of al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). An oil pipeline under YPG protection passes through the area. Since July 23, the fighting has been spreading into the surrounding villages south of al‑Qahtaniyah and al‑Maʿbada. Activists report that dozens of YPG‑fighters have been treated by teams of PYD/YPG doctors in the hospitals in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Qamishli. An activist from al‑Qahtaniyah told KurdWatch: »The YPG is attacking the Islamic units, not the other way around. Their fighters are rather trying to flee. They came to fight against the regime, not against the Kurds.«

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KURDWATCH, August 4, 2013—On July 27, 2013, a car bomb exploded near the customs office in al‑Qamishli and several people were injured. Thus far there is no reliable information about the reasons for the attack.

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KURDWATCH, August 4, 2013—On July 27, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped ʿAziz Habash and Wahid Habash at their workplace. The two activists are members of the Union of the Cooperation of Kurdish Youth in Syria.

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KurdWatch, August 1, 2013—On July 18, 2013, the website Rihab News published the draft of a constitution formulated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the »Social Contract for Western Kurdistan«. Although Article 3 emphasizes that Syria is to be considered an entirely independent state and the autonomous regions (»Western Kurdistan«) are geographically and administratively an integrated component thereof, the sovereign powers granted to the autonomous region are more reminiscent of statehood than of self-administration inside the Syrian state. For example, a total of twenty-one ministries are planned, including the ministries of Justice, Interior, and Defense—only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is missing. The relationship between the central power and the autonomous region is in no way specified; the respective responsibilities and spheres of authority remain entirely unclear. Syrian law is applicable pursuant to Article 58 only when it does not contradict the submitted constitution. It also remains unclear exactly which regions are to be included in the autonomous region. As one activist told KurdWatch, the release of the paper shortly after the attacks in ʿAmudah [further information] suggests that »by drawing on Kurdish nationalist pipe dreams, lost sympathy within the Kurdish population is to be regained«. That ʿAmr Ose, a representative in the Syrian Parliament and secretary for the regime-affiliated »National Initiative for the Syrian Kurds«, denied in the newspaper al‑Watan that the PYD plans to splitt off the Kurdish regions, and explained that the proposals »for the establishment of a temporary administration did not extend beyond the end of the crisis«, further suggests that the Syrian government had a part to play in the proposal. According to Article 56, after the constitution has been recognized by the Supreme Kurdish Committee, a vote on the constitution should be held within a general referendum. Pursuant to Article 59, elections for the first parliament are to be held within sixty days of the adoption of the constitution. The draft of the constitution directly contradicts the position which PYD‑chairman Salih Muslim Muhammad expressed to KurdWatch in November 2011, namely that the PYD rejects such classical concepts as »federalism, confederalism, self-government, and autonomy« [further information].

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KURDWATCH, July 28, 2013—On July 17 and 18.  2013, numerous Kurds were kidnapped by fighters for Islamic units at checkpoints in Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî). Among those kidnapped were ʿAli Khalaf, Muhammad Salih Chawish, Salih Khalaf, and Muhammad Mirza. Islamic units have stepped up their presence in Tall Abyad and erected several new checkpoints. Activists have told KurdWatch that they presume that these and other attacks on Kurds by Islamic fighters are a reaction to the fighting between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Jabhat an‑Nusrah in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) [further information].

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KURDWATCH, July 28, 2013—On July 17, 2013, five fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s  (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) were killed by Jabhat an‑Nusrah fighters on the road between Tall Tamr and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). A member of Muhammad Musa’s Kurdish Left Party in Syria was also among those killed.

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KURDWATCH, July 28, 2013—On July 17, 2013, fighters for Islamic units between Aleppo and Tall Tamr kidnapped sixteen Kurdish students who were on their way home from the University of Homs. Some of those kidnapped were released on July 20, the remainder one day later.

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KURDWATCH, July 28, 2013—On July 13, 2013, fighters for Islamic units in Aleppo kidnapped eighteen passengers on a bus that was on its way from Lebanon to ʿAfrin. The kidnapped victims were released on July 17. Several of them reported being tortured during the kidnapping.

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KURDWATCH, July 27, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from July 13 to July 19, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On July 19, demonstrators throughout the country demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Ramadan, the month of victory and conquest«. There were no demonstrations in the Kurdish regions.

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KURDWATCH, July 23, 2013—On July 13, 2013, the last of the activists kidnapped in conjunction with the attack by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in ʿAmudah on June 27, 2013 [further information] were released. Several people stated to KurdWatch that they were brutally tortured in the first two days after their kidnapping. During this time they received neither food nor drink, and instead of a toilet, they could only use a bowl in their prison cell.

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KURDWATCH, July 23, 2013—On July 16, 2013, heavy fighting again took place in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) between groups of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Islamist Jabhat an‑Nusrah. The YPG has controlled the entire city since July 17. They have also taken over the border crossing to Turkey. Since the signing of a joint agreement in February 2013 [further information], the city had been divided into two regions; one part was controlled by the YPG, the other by the Jabhat an‑Nusrah. In an interview with KurdWatch on March 30, 2013 [read more], Salih Muslim Muhammad, the chairman of the PYD, denied the presence of Jabhat an‑Nusrah fighters in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn. At least three YPG‑fighters were killed in the skirmishes.

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KURDWATCH, July 21, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from July 6 to July 12, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On July 12, demonstrators throughout the country renewed their call for the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Until we change that which is within us«. In al‑Qamishli there was only one small demonstration in the district of Munir Habib this week. After the youth movements in ʿAmudah decided not to organize any more demonstrations for the time being in order to »protect societal peace« and prevent »intra-Kurdish bloodshed«, many youth groups in al‑Qamishli and other regions followed suit in solidarity. The attack by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on a demonstration in ʿAmudah at the end of June [further information] has thus led other groups to suspend their political activities.

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KURDWATCH, July 18, 2013—On July 8, 2013, employees of the Asayiş, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service, took ʿAbdurrahim Tikhubi, member of the Cooperation of the Youth of ʿAmudah, from his home. In an interview a few days prior, the chairman of the PYD, Salih Muslim Muhammad, had described collaboration with the Cooperation of the Youth of ʿAmudah as treason. Since the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) attacked a demonstration in ʿAmudah on June 27, 2013 [further information], members of this youth group have been pursued by PYD.

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KURDWATCH, July 18, 2013—On July 10, 2013, unknown persons set fire to the foyer of the ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) office of Nasruddin Ibrahim’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî). The reasons for the arson attack are unknown.

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KURDWATCH, July 18, 2013—On July 5, 2013, the office of the Kurdish Youth Movement in al‑Jawadiyah was completely destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. A member of the Youth Movement stated to KurdWatch: »We have no evidence against anyone«. In recent weeks, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) have committed arson attacks on numerous facilities belonging to member organizations and parties of the Kurdish National Council.

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KURDWATCH, July 15, 2013—From July 2 to July 10, 2013, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released at least forty-nine kidnapped activists from ʿAmudah and the surrounding area. Ten people were released on July 2, fifteen on July 4, six on July 6, and eighteen on July 10. The exact number of those kidnapped and those released remains unknown, as the PYD continues to keep ʿAmudah closed off from the outside. Human rights organizations and independent groups are being denied access. Muhammad Khair Bango, member of the politburo for the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), is still being detained.

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KURDWATCH, July 12, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from June 29 to July 5, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On July 5, demonstrators throughout the country demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Be vigilant, oh battalions«. In al‑Qamishli, two demonstrations took place—one in the district of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups), the other in Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). Both demonstrations called for the condemnation of those responsible for the deaths in ʿAmudah on June 27 [further information on the case]. The demonstrations took place without any confrontations. However, due to the tense situation, the Kurdish National Council did not organize any other demonstrations in the Kurdish regions. For the first time since the beginning of the protests more than two years ago, there were also no demonstrations in ʿAmudah. Fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) had erected numerous checkpoints and posted sharpshooters on rooftops, including on the minaret of the Great Mosque.

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KURDWATCH, July 9, 2013—On June 28, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped Hisham Shaikhu (b. in ʿAmudah, married, two children) on his way home from work. Shaikhu is a nurse at the Dari hospital and a member of the Union of Cooperation of Kurdish Youth in Syria. He had treated several demonstrators who were injured in a YPG attack on a demonstration in ʿAmudah on June 27, 2013 [further information]. Hisham Shaikhu was released on July 2.

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KURDWATCH, July 9, 2013—On July 1, 2013, armed supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) attacked the Dari hospital in ʿAmudah. Several doctors and nurses were beaten, including the doctor Ahmad Hammu Dari. Several of the demonstrators who were injured in an attack by the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) at a demonstration in ʿAmudah on June 27, 2013 [further information] had been treated at this hospital.

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KURDWATCH, July 7, 2013—In reaction to repeated Democratic Union Party (PYD) attacks on activists and politicians, the local committees of the Kurdish National Council from ʿAmudah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Hasakah, Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), as well as three local committees from al‑Qamishli, have left the Supreme Kurdish Committee. In addition, the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), as well as three leading members of the Kurdish National Council, Ismaʿil Hami (Yekîtî), Bashar Amin (Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria [Azadî]), and Siʿud Mala (ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria [el‑Partî]) have frozen their membership.

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KURDWATCH, July 5, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from June 22 to June 28, 2013 ended once more with numerous dead and injured. On June 28, demonstrators throughout the country once again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »The revolution smolders, the opposition does not«. In al‑Qamishli, two demonstrations were organized against the PYD; they called for the condemnation of those responsible for the deaths in ʿAmudah on June 27 [further information on the case]. The demonstration in the district of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) was attackd by dozens of armed PYD‑supporters; they shot into the air and destroyed the loudspeakers and the stereo equipment. They also took control of the vehicle that was transporting the equipment. The following day, the totaled vehicle was returned to its owner. The demonstration ended following the attack. The second demonstration in Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council) was peaceful. Due to the tense situation, there were no demonstrations in other Kurdish cities.

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KURDWATCH, July 5, 2013—On June 5, 2013, employees of the Military Intelligence Service arrested Muhammad Sadiq ʿUthman and Rakan Musa, both sixteen years old, in ʿUthman’s family’s home in Damascus. There is no information available about the whereabouts of the two youth arrested.

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KURDWATCH, July 5, 2013—In addition to the rooms of the Ronî women’s association and the youth center Zelal [further information], on June 28, 2013 the PYD in al‑Qamishli also burned down the Academy for Languages and the Azadî advisory service, as well as two offices belonging to ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî). Since June 27, the PYD targeting its attacks at institutions and people that it perceives to be critics and rivals.

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KURDWATCH, July 4, 2013—On June 28, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) stormed the villages of Jawhariyah and Jirnik west of ʿAmudah and searched numerous homes. At least fifteen people, primarily supporters of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), were kidnapped. Since June 27 [further information] activists and politicians have been abducted in ʿAmudah and the surrounding villages. The exact number is not known. Moreover hundreds of activists and politicians have gone into hiding in order to escape the attacks of the PYD and its militia.

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KURDWATCH, July 3, 2013—On June 27, 2013, massive conflicts occurred in ʿAmudah between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and demonstrators demanding, among other things, the release of three kidnapped activists [further information on the case]. When YPG vehicles attempted to drive through the demonstration, they were pelted with stones and called Shabbihah (the regime’s militia). Shortly thereafter, YPG fighters shot into the crowd killing at least six people. Those in question are Nadir Mahmud Khalo (15 years old), Saʿid ʿAbdulbaqi Sayda (15 years), Barzan Qarnu (18 years), Shaykhmus Muhammad ʿAli (66 years), ʿAli Randa (33 years) and Shaykhah Alika. Shaykhah Alika was an eight-year old child who was run over by an YPG vehicle. YPG fighters erected checkpoints in the city, conducted raids, and several dozen people were kidnapped. KurdWatch was informed by several sources that the YPG additionally blocked off the city and prevented doctors from al‑Qamishli from treating the injured in ʿAmudah. In addition a curfew was imposed. Aras Ahmad Bango (36 years), an armed guard for the party office of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), was killed by a gunshot to the head on the roof of the office. YPG fighters stormed the party office and brought all those present under their control. At that time, between fifty and seventy people were in the office, primarily party members. Several members of the party leadership, for example Muhammad Khayr Bango (member of the politburo and uncle of the slain Aras Ahmad Bango) were also among the kidnapped. All of the office equipment was destroyed. In addition, the party office of Mustafa Jumʿah’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) and the tent of the hunger strikers in the center of ʿAmudah [further information] were burned down. In order to prevent funeral marches for those killed from becoming mass demonstrations against the PYD, the relatives of the dead were forced to bury them with only the immediate family present.

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KURDWATCH, July 3, 2013—In the early morning of June 28, 2013, the independent youth center Zelal in al‑Qamishli was burned down. According to an eyewitness, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) broke into the center and started the fire. The witness told KurdWatch: »If I had attempted to stop them, they would have killed me«. According to statements by activists for the youth center who had rushed to the crime scene to extinguish the fire, a YPG vehicle drove past them without helping. »Rodi, you’re a dead man« was scrawled on one wall of the center. Rodi Ibrahim (b. 1977, married, three children) is the director of the center. The rooms of the Ronî women’s center in al‑Qamishli, where Ibrahim’s wife is active, were also set on fire on the morning of June 28.

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KURDWATCH, July 2, 2013—On June 24, 2013, the Central Committee of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) declared the failure of the Kurdish Democratic Political Union—Syria. A statement claimed that some of the participants in the Political Union, in particular the representatives of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), did not really stand behind the project.

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KURDWATCH, July 2, 2013—On June 26, 2013, the security service (Asayiş) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) released Dersim Adham ʿUmar, member of the Martyr Tahsin Mamo Battalion of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), from custody in ʿAmudah. He and two other activists were kidnapped by fighters of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) on June 17 [further information on the case]. The other two activists remain in custody.

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KURDWATCH, June 30, 2013—On June 30, 2013, several dozen female activists organized a rally in the center of ʿAfrin. They demanded more democracy and freedom and an end to the war. Members of the security service (Asayiş) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) attacked the activists; a dozen of them were detained for several hours. Two people, Fayruz Diku and Piroz Diku, remained in custody until June 27. The rally was attacked even though it was not explicitly directed against the PYD.

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KURDWATCH, June 29, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from June 15 to June 21, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On June 21, demonstrators throughout the country renewed their demand for the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Support Damascus with deeds, not words«. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) only organized one demonstration in ʿAmudah; they protested against FSA attacks on the positions of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) in ʿAfrin. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). The protests were directed against PYD attacks on activists. In ʿAmudah, activists supported by the Kurdish National Council also protested against the PYD [further information]. In addition, the Kurdish National Council organized demonstrations in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and ad‑Darbasiyah; here, too, the actions of the PYD were criticized. There were no protests in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), or ʿAfrin, nor in the Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, June 29, 2013—On June 23, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) surrounded the village of Tall Ghazal near ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and erected several checkpoints. The same day Hayawi ʿAbdu Hammu and his son, Mustafa ʿAbdu Hammu, were shot dead in their van by YPG‑fighters at one of these checkpoints. The YPG opened fire when father and son failed to stop at the checkpoint on their way into the village. When villagers tried to help the two, the YPG also fired at them. As a result, Mahmud ʿUmar was killed and six other people were injured. An activist stated to KurdWatch: »The village has long been a thorn in the PYD’s side. It is among the few villages in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab that isn’t under the PYD’s control. Most of the villagers are members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), Shaykh Ali’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria, both wings of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), and the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria. The PYD wants to intimidate the villagers. Now the PYD is said to have approved a search for four party members from the village. Those in question are ʿAli Tami (Future Movement), Harun Muhammad ʿAli (Mustafa Khidr Oso’s Azadî), Mustafa ʿAtta (Mustafa Jumʿa’s Azadî) and Aziz Schahin (el‑Partî).

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KURDWATCH, June 27, 2013—Since the kidnapping of three Kurdish activists by fighters of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) on June 17, 2013 [further information on the case], youth groups, supported by the Kurdish National Council, have been organizing daily demonstrations. The demonstrations have called for the release of those kidnapped as well as an end to PYD attacks. On June 20, a dozen activists erected a tent camp in the center of ʿAmudah and began a hunger strike. On June 21, supporters of the PYD organized a counter demonstration. When this demonstration crossed paths with the activists’ protest march, several dozen PYD supporters attempted to attack the march. Members of the PYD’s security service (Asayiş) prevented this by removing the attackers from the demonstration. A rally in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) on June 21 also called for an end to the PYD attacks.

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KURDWATCH, June 27, 2013—On June 23, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped ʿUthman Batal, a member of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), at a checkpoint in Shaykh al‑Hadid (Şiyê), circa thirty kilometers west of ʿAfrin. Batal was transported to a building belonging to the PYD’s security service (Asayiş) and interrogated. He and el‑Partî were accused of treason and of collaborating with the enemy. Shortly after his release the same day, Batal was brutally beaten by six people. His leg and two ribs were broken. Additionally, he sustained severe injuries to both his face and his back. In a statement, el‑Partî blamed the PYD and the YPG for the attack.

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KURDWATCH, June 26, 2013—On June 15, 2013, Idris Miqdad, member of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), was kidnapped by fighters of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). Miqdad was on the way to ʿAfrin, where he wanted to take part in the celebration honoring the founding of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (KDPS) fifty-six years ago [further information].

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KURDWATCH, June 26, 2013—On June 10, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped six members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) at checkpoints in the ʿAfrin region. The people in question are Muhammad Ahmad Miqdad, Muhammad Hasan Miqdad, ʿImad Hasan Miqdad, Mustafa Musa, Salam Sulayman Shababu and Salah Rashid. All of those kidnapped were on their way to ʿAfrin.

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KURDWATCH, June 25, 2013—On Friday, June 14, 2013, ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) celebrated the founding of the first Syrian-Kurdish party, the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (KDPS), fifty-six years ago. The celebrations took place in al‑Malikiyah, as‑Suwaidiya (thirty kilometers south of al‑Malikiyah) and ʿAfrin. The Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria also celebrated in honor of this occasion on June 14 in al‑Qamishli and on June 17 in ʿAmudah. Both parties see themselves as the legitimate successor parties to the KDPS. In ʿAfrin, several dozen members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) armed with knives and clubs attacked the el‑Partî celebration. They stormed the stage, at which point the event was broken off.

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KURDWATCH, June 23, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from June 8 to June 14 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On June 14, demonstrators throughout the country renewed their demand for the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »The Safavid project is a threat to the nation«, thereby protesting Iran’s involvement in the fighting in Syria. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) only organized one demonstration in al‑Qamishli; they protested under the slogan »ʿAfrin is our red line«. In al‑Qamishli, a demonstration also took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). In ʿAmudah there was only one demonstration organized by various youth groups, including Avahî. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration each in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and ad‑Darbasiyah. On TuesdayJuly 18, ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) organized a protest in al‑Malikiyah; among other things, the demonstrators demanded the release of all prisoners from the custody of the regime and the PYD. There were no protests in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) or ʿAfrin, nor in the mainly Kurdish districts in Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, June 22, 2013—On June 16, 2013, members of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Aras Husayn Abdullah, a member of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) at the Faysh Khabur border crossing (east of al‑Malikiyah [Dêrik]) when he tried to return to Syria from Iraqi-Kurdistan.

 

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KURDWATCH, June 20, 2013—On June 17, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped Walat Ismaʿil al‑ʿUmari (activist and Kurdish National Council sympathizer), Sarbast Najjari (member of the ʿAmudah coordination committee), and Dersim Adham ʿUmar (member of the Martyr Tahsin Mamo battalion of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria [Yekîtî]). The kidnappings took place during a large-scale YPG operation in ʿAmudah: The YPG erected numerous checkpoints and also searched commercial premises and private residences. Several youth groups as well as the Kurdish National Council called for protest rallies in ʿAmudah from June 17 to 20. According to PYD-affiliated media, the action was a raid against »drug traffickers«.

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KURDWATCH, June 20, 2013—On June 5, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped several members of Mustafa Jumʿah’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) in ʿAfrin. The people in question are Farid Muhammad, Peshang Muhammad, Fathi Qaso, Ahmad Bakr, Shaykh Muhammad Hamdush, Husayn Zakariya Faqi, ʿUmar Muhammad ʿAlo, Hamid Muhammad, Yasir Rizko, ʿImad Hasan Miqda, and Muhammad Hasan Kanju. ʿUmar Muhammad ʿAlo and Hamid Muhammad were released the same day. The kidnappings are connected to the fighting between the YPG and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in ʿAfrin. The PYD is accusing the Azadî of cooperating with the FSA.

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KURDWATCH, June 17, 2013—On June 12, 2013, ʿAdnan Shaykh Muhammad (b. 1977 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî], married,  five children), member of the provincial committee of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria and the Kurdish Front Brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), was killed in a Syrian Air Force attack on the city of ar‑Raqqa. The Advancement Party organized a funeral march for Muhammad’s burial in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab on June 13.

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KURDWATCH, June 14, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from June 1 to June 7, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On June 7, demonstrators throughout the country once again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Qusair and Ghuta, unbreakable will«. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized only one demonstration in al-Hasakah; they protested against FSA attacks on YPG‑positions in ʿAfrin [further information]. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). In ʿAmudah, there was only one demonstration organized by various youth groups, including Avahî. In Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) organized a demonstration on Tuesday; they demanded an end to the fighting in ʿAfrin. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration each in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and ad‑Darbasiyah. The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstration in al‑Malikiyah took place on Saturday. On Tuesday June 4, ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) organized a protest in al‑Malikiyah. Among other things, the demonstrators demanded the release of all political prisoners from the custody of the regime and the PYD. There were no protests in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) or ʿAfrin nor in the mainly Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, June 14, 2013—On May 29, 2013, Shapal Muhammad Amin Ibrahim (b. 1978 in al‑Qamishli, married, three children) was released from prison. He was arrested on September 22, 2011 and charged with participating in a demonstration pursuant to Articles 335 and 336 of the criminal code [further information on the case]. In a statement to KurdWatch Ibrahim said: »During my entire prison term, I wasn’t allowed to see acquaintances or friends or an attorney. My brother was first allowed to visit me about a month ago. In the first five months, I was brutally tortured. I still have health problems«.

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KURDWATCH, June 13, 2013—On May 29, 2013, Masʿud Hasan, a member of Lazgin Mahmud Fakhri’s Kurdish Democratic Party—Syria and leader of the Kurdish Intervention Forces, was released by the Asayiş (security service) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). He was arrested on March 15 by members of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units [further information on the case]. A member of the Intervention Forces told KurdWatch »Hasan was only released after he signed an agreement declaring the dissolution of the Intervention Forces. However, the YPG published a declaration according to which the Intervention Forces will dissolve and its members will join the YPG. That is not true. We will do everything to defend the Kurdish people.«

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KURDWATCH, June 13, 2013—On April 29, 2013, the Asayiş (security service) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) released Walat Murad Haso, Mizgin Muhammad Ramadan, Aras Muhammad Salih, Jiwan Sulayman Yasin, and Idris Sulayman. The members of the Shaykh‑Maʿshuq-Khaznawi Battalion of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) were kidnapped on April 17 along with an additional fighter of the battalion by the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) [further information on the case]. Walat Murad Haso, leader of the battalion, stated to KurdWatch: »I was not tortured, but threatened and held in solitary confinement for several days. During the interrogations, I was accused of being a member of an illegal organization.« The YPG claimed to have interrogated him in the name of the Supreme Kurdish Committee. Allegedly, he and other fighters were in fact released due to the initiative of members of the Supreme Kurdish Committee’s expert committee on the military. This expert committee was ascribed to the Shaykh‑Maʿshuq-Khaznawi Battalion. According to Haso, his battalion has around four hundred members.

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KURDWATCH, June 10, 2013—On June 6, 2013, employees of the Political Security Directorate arrested Ahmad ʿAbdulqadir Simo (b. in Tall Tamr, married, two children, known under the name Khabat Simo) in the mainly Kurdish district of Ruknuddin in Damascus. Simo is a member of the general secretariat of the Kurdish National Council and is an active member of the local committee in Ruknuddin.

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KURDWATCH, June 10, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from May 25 to May 31, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On May 31, demonstrators throughout the country once again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common motto »The principles of the revolution are taboo«. After a short break, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) yet again organized several demonstrations; they protested against FSA attacks on YPG‑positions in ʿAfrin [further information]. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups), Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). In ʿAmudah there were two separate demonstrations, organized by the PYD and by various youth groups, including Avahî. There were also two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, the other by Arab groups. Two demonstrations, organized by the PYD and the Kurdish National Council, took place in both ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. In addition, the PYD organized a demonstration in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) on Saturday as well as protests in ad‑Darbasiyah on Monday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the mainly Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURWATCH, June 10, 2013—On May 23, 2013, fighting broke out near the Shiite villages of Nubbul and az‑Zahraʾ (twenty kilometers south of ʿAfrin) between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Several Kurdish battalions were involved in the fighting on the side of the FSA. For more than a year, Nubbul and az‑Zahraʾ have been under an FSA embargo. The FSA accuses the YPG of supplying provisions to the Syrian units and Hizbullah fighters stationed in the villages. According to a KurdWatch informant, the FSA demanded the suspension of this support. After negotiations failed, the YPG allegedly opened fire. An FSA offensive against YPG positions in several Kurdish villages followed on May 24 and 25. Fighting also occurred to the north and east of ʿAfrin on May 31 and June 2, 3, and 6. Several dozen combatants on both sides were killed in the fighting, including the female YPG fighter Salah Muhammad (b. 1991 in Raju, known under the name Sulav). Currently the FSA controls all access roads to ʿAfrin.

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KURDWATCH, June 8, 2013—A letter from the Syrian Minister for Crude Oil and Natural Resources to the Prime Minister gives an account of a meeting on September 17, 2012 between representatives of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the director of the state crude oil company, Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC), and the head of the Political Security Directorate of al‑Hasakah. The letter was published on the internet and ascertained by KurdWatch to be authentic. In the letter, the PKK demanded to receive the transfer of protection of the oil fields in the Kurdish region. The Minister recommends fulfilling these demands, since problems in the Kurdish region could be avoided and work could move forward. Moreover, the PKK threatened to attack the oil fields in the Kurdish regions should it be denied control. The People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) protect Rumaylan against attacks by the Free Syrian Army and thus allow the Syrian government continued access to the country’s largest oil reserves, which are deposited there. This access is strategically important, as Syria is under an international embargo and cannot import any oil. According to a former employee of the administration in Rumaylan, the PYD is paid by the government for the aforementioned protective services.

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KURDWATCH, June 6, 2013—On June 1, 2013, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) Asayiş (security service) held and interrogated activists from the youth center Zelal and the women’s group Ronî in al‑Qamishli for several hours. The interrogation occurred after the activists had visited Arab refugees and distributed toys to their children. An employee of the Asayiş berated and insulted the young people calling them »filth« and accused them of being financed by the Syrian National Council in Istanbul. Moreover, she demanded that the center be officially registered with the Asayiş before any further activities are undertaken.

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KURDWATCH, June 2, 2013—On May 25, 2013, Jabhat an‑Nusrah fighters kidnapped three combatants of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). The YPG subsequently brought two members of Jabhat an‑Nusrah under its control. Nothing is known about any victims in the shootouts that followed. After agreeing on a ceasefire, the hostages on both sides were released. The ceasefire, however, lasted only a few hours. On May 26, further shootouts occurred both in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn and in Tall Abu Raʾsayn (Girbawî), located twenty kilometers to the east. At least two YPG‑fighters and four Jabhat an‑Nusrah fighters were killed in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn. Since the last agreement between the PYD and Jabhat an‑Nusrah [further informationen], the city has been divided into two sectors; one is controlled by the YPG and the PYD’s Asayiş (security service), the other by the Islamist Jabhat an‑Nusrah.

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2013—On May 26, 2013, shots were once again exchanged in Tall Tamr (thirty kilometer southeast of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn) between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and armed members of the Arab Scharabiyin tribe [further information]. A YPG‑combatant was killed in the fighting, whereas there is no information available on victims among the Scharabiyin. Moreover, on May 27, a Kurdish taxi driver and his two Kurdish passengers were kidnapped by Scharabiyin in Tall Tamr. They were released the next day.

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2013—On May 23, 2013, the State Security Service in Damascus released Yasir Husain Karami (b. 1979 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî], member of the SAWA‑Coalition) from custody. Karami was arrested along with two other people on December 31, 2012 for allegedly planning assassinations [further information on the case].

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KURDWATCH, May 31, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from May 18 to 24, 2013, resulted once again in numerous dead and injured. On May 24, demonstrators throughout the country demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Deceivers of the resistance«, a protest against the open involvement of the Lebanese Hizbullah on several fronts. This week, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) only organized one demonstration in al‑Qamishli, at which they demanded the release of Abdullah Öcalan. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration also took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). In ʿAmudah, there was only one dissident demonstration organized by various youth groups, including Avahî. In al‑Hasakah, two demonstrations took place, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, the other by Arab groups. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in both ad‑Darbasiyah and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday; only several dozen demonstrators participated in al‑Maʿbada. In al‑Qamishli and al‑Malikiyah, demonstrators once again carried banners demanding the release of political prisoners from PYD‑prisons. Prior to the Kurdish National Council’s demonstration in al‑Malikiyah, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) erected numerous checkpoints and searched vehicles, particularly on the main access roads and in the city center. There were no protests in al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), ʿAfrin, or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the mainly Kurdish districts in Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, May 28, 2013—All seventy-six members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (el‑Partî) kidnapped by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) are free again [further information on the case]. Most recently ʿUthman Batal (member of the ʿAfrin regional committee) and Hasan ʿAte (member of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî] regional committee) were released from custody on May 25. Saʿid ʿUmar, director of the Office for General Relations for el‑Partî, told KurdWatch: »All of those kidnapped were treated brutally. They were forced to lay flat on the floor. YPG und Asayiş threatened them and shouted at them during interrogations. Cell phones were initially confiscated, but later returned.«

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KURDWATCH, May 28, 2013—The Kurdish recruit Aras Kamal Hasan (b. 1985 in al‑Hasakah) was detained on June 15, 2011, while completing his military service in Damascus. His brother Jawidan told KurdWatch: »We were only allowed to see him in the first months of his imprisonment in the presence of a guard for ten minutes at a time. For more than half a year we haven’t been able to visit him at all. We don’t even know when the trial is supposed to take place. All we know is that he is being accused of not having shot at demonstrators in the context of his service.«

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KURDWATCH, May 26, 2013—After the closing of the Faysh Khabur border crossing (east of al‑Malikiyah [Dêrik]) by the Kurdish regional government in Iraq (KRG) on May 20, 2013, the situation between the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the KRG further intensified. The closing of the border crossing was a response to the kidnapping of several dozen members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) [further information], as on the Syrian side, proceeds from the border crossing almost exclusively benefited the PYD [further information]. The PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) subsequently organized a military parade on May 20 from al‑Qamishli to al‑Malikiyah which also showcased heavy weaponry. In addition, the YPG strengthened its military presence on the Syrian side of the border. On the same day, referencing an anonymous source, the KRG website indirectly accused the PYD of marginalizing the other Kurdish parties in Syria and of being responsible for murders and kidnappings. Moreover the KRG announced a possible policy change should the essential points of the Erbil agreement [further information] not be implemented. Seventy-four of seventy-six kidnapped members of el-Partî have been free since May 22.

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KURDWATCH, May 26, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from May 11 to May 17 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On May 17, demonstrators throughout the country again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »The decision [about the fate] of Syria is independent [will be decided by Syrians alone]«. Once again the supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) did not organize any demonstrations. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). In ʿAmudah, there was only one dissident demonstration, organized by various youth groups, including Avahî. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council refrained from organizing a demonstration due to the harvest season and the final exams of the current school year. In al‑Hasakah, two demonstrations took place, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, the other by Arab groups. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in both ad‑Darbasiyah and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), while in al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa) and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) there were also no demonstrations because of the upcoming harvest and final exams. The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday; in al‑Maʿbada, only several dozen demonstrators took part. Once again there were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the majority Kurdish districts in Aleppo and Damascus. In al‑Qamishli und al‑Malikiyah, demonstrators displayed banners demanding the release of political prisoners PYD‑prisons.

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KURDWATCH, May 23, 2013—On May 19, 2013, fighters of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped a total of sixty-seven members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) from various locations. Most were returning from cadre training in Iraqi Kurdistan. ʿAbdulhakim Bashar told KurdWatch: »The YPG is taking over the work of the regime. It acts like the State Security Service, the Military Intelligence Service, and the Political Security Directorate.« To the question of what exactly the cadres would have been doing in Iraqi Kurdistan, he replied: »The PYD cannot dictate how we become active. What our cadres do in Iraqi Kurdistan only concerns us, not the PYD.« The PYD stated that the members of el‑Partî were arrested because they had crossed the border illegally. They would be released as long as there were no other known accusations against them. According to information from a high-ranking member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) closed the Faysh Khabur border crossing to the east of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) on May 20, 2013 as an answer to the kidnapping.

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KURDWATCH, May 22, 2013—ʿAbdulhakim Bashar, Secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), confirmed to KurdWatch media reports according to which the four parties of the Kurdish Democratic Political Union—Syria [further information on the Union] are planning the dissolution of their parties and the formation of a new party: »Yes, we have made this decision. We will form a committee that will prepare the merger. But this is not a matter of a couple of weeks. We are very close together, but we must ease into the process so that the merger does not fail.«

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KURDWATCH, May 22, 2013—On May 18, 2013, members of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped the law student Sherko ʿAbdurrazzaq Khalil (b. 1992 in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn). The reasons behind the kidnapping remain unclear. An activist told KurdWatch: »Sherko’s family is accused of having debts of around ninety thousand Syrian liras. Due to this, charges have been filed. I don’t believe, however, that the PYD is interested in detaining someone for such a sum. I think the reason for the detention is because one of Sherko’s close relatives was active for the Free Syrian Army.«

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KURDWATCH, May 22, 2013—On May 16, 2013, members of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Kajin Khalaf Sirajuddin (b. 1988 in al‑Qamishli). In a video that has been made public, the father of the student and member of the Shaykh-Maʿshuq-Khaznawi Battalion of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) stated that the Asayiş claimed his son was wanted, without, however, giving the reason for this. He demanded his son’s immediate release.

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KURDWATCH, May 20, 2013—On May 13, 2013, members of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Sardar Qare, member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), in Tall Maʿruf (twenty kilometers southeast of al‑Qamishli). According to a statement by the Yekîtî, the context to the kidnapping is Qare’s military engagement for the party, which maintains several military battalions with a few dozen fighters each in the Kurdish regions.

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KURDWATCH, May 18, 2013—On April 24, 2013, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) released Muhammad Salim Muhammad Saʿid, member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria’s (Yekîtî) Shaykh-Maʿshuq-Khaznawi Battalion. Muhammad Saʿid and six more members of the battalion were kidnapped by the YPG on April 17. The other fighters remain under the power of the YPG. A member of the Shaikh-Maʿshuq-Khaznawi Battailons told KurdWatch that Muhammad Saʿid was tortured by the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, May 17, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from May 4 to 10, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On May 10, demonstrators throughout the country demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Baniyas, sectarian cleansing under international protection«. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) once again organized no demonstrations this week. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). In ʿAmudah, there was only one dissident demonstration, organized by various youth groups including Avahî. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council refrained from organizing a demonstration due to the start of the harvest season and the final exams of the current school year. In al‑Hasakah, two demonstrations took place, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, the other by Arab groups. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the majority Kurdish districts in Aleppo and Damascus. Overall, the number of demonstrators in the Kurdish regions is seen increasingly as in decline.

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KURDWATCH, May 14, 2013—On May 6, 2013, members of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stopped a bus in which leading politicians for the parties of the Kurdish National Council were traveling at the Faysh Khabur border crossing east of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). The bus was returning from a meeting with President Barzani in Erbil [further information]. The politicians had to leave the vehicle, which was then searched. Ibrahim Biro, secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), was among those who confirmed the incident. He further stated that the members of the Asayiş had claimed to be acting on orders.

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KURDWATCH, May 14, 2013—In a statement on May 1, 2013, Kamiran Haj ʿAbdu, a member of the steering committee for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî), accused the secretary of the party, Muhiyuddin Shaykh Ali, and the steering committee of manipulating the political policies of the program passed at the last party congress [further information]. The closing statement, which he himself helped prepare, would have called for the fall of the regime. The published version, however, only discusses an end to the rule of the security apparatus. Due to this and other differences of opinion, a group of members of the Democratic Yekîtî announced their withdrawal from the party in early May. A member of the Democratic Yekîtî told KurdWatch: »Ali’s ambitions to control the party became clear at the party congress. Members of various party circles have called for a special party congress. Ali must not be allowed to simply ignore the demands of party members.«

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KURDWATCH, May 12, 2013—From April 28 to May 6 2013, President Masʾud Barzani invited the heads of the parties in the Kurdish National Council as well as representatives of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to Erbil to discuss a solution to the problems between the Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council of West Kurdistan. However, representatives of the PYD and the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, which is accused of having close ties to the PYD, stayed clear of the meeting. In a statement the Progressive Party explained its absence by stating that similar meetings have repeatedly taken place without results. The Progressive Party further suggested that the Kurdish National Council should first solve its own problems. The PYD, which declined a meeting with representatives of the Kurdish National Council as it [the PYD] was »not part of the problem«, made similar statements. Moreover, the PYD made it clear that it would not sit down at a table with representatives of Mustafa Djumʾa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) since this party was involved in the killing of Kurds. Independently of this, the PYD sent several delegates to Iraqi-Kurdistan to separately meet with Barzani.

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KURDWATCH, May 7, 2013—Between April 26 and May 3, 2013, shots were repeatedly exchanged in Tall Tamr (thirty-seven kilometers south east of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn) between fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units  (YPG) and armed members of the Arab Sharabiyin tribe [further information]. In addition, at least four Kurds were arrested at a Sharabiyin checkpoint near Tall Tamr on April 27; they were released a few days later. According to information from the YPG, Islamic groups including the Jabhat an-Nusrah allegedly fought on the side of the Sharabiyin. In a statement, the YPG announced that four of its members were killed, as well as thirty-five fighters for the opposing side. Moreover, the YPG allegedly arrested a fighter from Saudi Arabia, one from Europe, and three Kurds from Kirkuk who supposedly fought on the side of the Sharabiyin.

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KURDWATCH, May 6, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from April 27 to May 3, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On May 3, demonstrators throughout the country once again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Your taboos are killing the Syrians«. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) did not organize any demonstrations this week. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). Two dissident demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the Kurdish National Council and various youth groups, including Avahî. There were also two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, the other by Arab groups. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, May 5, 2013—On April 24, 2013, the activist and journalist Shiyar Khalil (b. 1985 in ʿAfrin), a member of the Union of Kurdish Journalists, was arrested along with seven other activists at a café in Damascus. Thus far it is uncertain which security service is responsible for the arrests.

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KURDWATCH, May 4, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from April 20 to 26, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On April 26, demonstrators throughout the country demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Protection of the majority«. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) did not organize any demonstrations, but rather funeral processions in ʿAmudah and ad‑Darbasiyah for the burials of slain YPG [further information] and PKK fighters. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by various youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). Two dissident demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the Kurdish National Council and various youth groups, including Avahî. There were also two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, the other by Arab groups. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) nor in the mainly Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, May 2, 2013—On April 25, 2013, Mustafa Farhan (b. 1970 in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn, married, four children), leading member of Muhammad Musa’s Kurdish Left Party in Syria, was kidnapped on the road between Tall Tamr and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In a statement, the Left Party blamed the Arab Sharabiyin tribe for the kidnapping. The same day, shots were exchanged between Sharabiyin and fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) [further information]. Farhan was released the following day.

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KURDWATCH, May 2, 2013—On April 25, 2013, shots were exchanged between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and armed members of the Arab Sharabiyin tribe at a YPG checkpoint in Tall Tamr (thirty-seven kilometers southeast of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn). At least one YPG fighter and eight Scharabiyin, including one woman, are thought to have been killed.

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KURDWATCH, May 1, 2013—On April 26, 2013, the Asayiş, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service, distributed flyers in al‑Qamishli calling upon all institutions in civil society to submit an application with the Asayiş for any demonstrations [further information]. Only the Friday demonstrations are excluded from this. Anyone who does not follow this order is to be punished in accordance with legal provisions. It is unclear if this refers to Syrian law or the PYD’s parallel law.

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KURDWATCH, May 1, 2013—In mid‑April 2013, the Kurdish regional government in Iraq began building a provisional bridge across the Tigris at the Faysh Khabur border crossing east of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). The bridge is the result of heavy border traffic between the Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq and should facilitate the faster transport of goods in particular. Until now, people and goods have been transported across the border river with boats and a ropeway. The Syrian side of the border is officially controlled by the Supreme Kurdish Committee. Border fees are to be divided between the People’s Council of West Kurdistan and the Kurdish National Council. In practice, however, this has not yet happened. »Thus far around one hundred thousand dollars are presumed to have been collected«, reported a person responsible for finances in the Supreme Kurdish Committee. »To my knowledge, the Kurdish National Council has not received any of it; at most, smaller sums have gone to individual parties. The PYD controls all of the revenues.«

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KURDWATCH, April 29, 2013—After decades of sanctions against the Kurdish language in schools, universities, and agencies, the Syrian government resolved to teach Kurdish literature at Syrian universities in the future. On April 18, 2013, President Bashar al‑Assad stated in an interview that he wanted to introduce this subject into the country’s literary departments. The University of Damascus has already made an announcement seeking two suitable teachers.

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KURDWATCH, April 29, 2013—In several Kurdish cities, the Supreme Kurdish Committee has begun replacing Syrian license plates with new plates specially produced for the Kurdish regions. These license plates have the Kurdish city names in Arabic and Latin script. Moreover, alongside the abbreviation SYR for Syria is the abbreviation RK for Rojavayê Kurdistan (West Kurdistan).

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KURDWATCH, April 27, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian  (FSA) and government troops in the week from April 13 to 19, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. On April 19, demonstrators throughout the country demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Iran and Hizbullah, you will be defeated along with Assad«. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) only organized one demonstration in al‑Qamishli, under the motto »We will not forget the massacre of Shaykh Maqsud«. One demonstration also took place in each of the al‑Qamishli districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Martyr Farhad youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). Moreover the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria under Rezan Bari Shaykhmus protested against the politics of the PYD. It accused the PYD of forcibly silencing those who hold different opinions. Two dissident demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the Kurdish National Council and various youth groups. There were also two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah, one organized by the Kurdish National Council and the other by Arab groups. A demonstration organized by the Kurdish National Council took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the Kurdish districts in Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, April 26, 2013—On April 20, 2013, government troops attempted to retake the district of al‑Ashrafiyah in Aleppo. Fighters for the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Kurdish Front Brigade were able to defend their positions in the district. Shots were also exchanged on April 21 and 22. According to statements by the Kurdish Front Brigade, at least five Syrian Army soldiers were killed in the fighting.

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KURDWATCH, April 26, 2013—On April 17, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) kidnapped Bangin Ahmad, a member of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî), from his home in Tall Abu Raʾsain (Girbawî), twenty kilometers east of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In a statement, the al‑Qamishli district group of the Democratic Yekîtî condemned the kidnapping by the YPG and called upon the PYD to release the abducted victim. The leadership of the Democratic Yekîtî has made no comment thus far. While leadership is part of the party’s so-called ʿAfrin wing and is considered close to the PYD, the al‑Qamishli/Jazirah fraction is more critical.

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KURDWATCH, April 25, 2013—From March 30 to April 1, 2013, more than one hundred delegates from at home and abroad took part in the seventh party congress of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) near ʿAfrin. The party congress was dedicated to Ismaʿil ʿUmar, the founder of the Democratic Yekîtî who died in 2010, as well as to Kamal Hanan and Scherzad ʿAlamdar, two members who were killed during the Syrian revolution. Those gathered confirmed the party’s current political line and pledged themselves to the following principles:
– Victory of the revolution, of freedom, and of dignity; for a free, democratic, pluralistic, and decentralized Syria;
– Protection of Kurdish unity and of peace within the population;
– Strengthening of the role of the party in all areas;
– The freedom of women is the foundation of societal progress.
Muhiyuddin Shaykh Ali was re-elected Secretary, and Mustafa Maschayikh was elected as his deputy. A politburo comprised of nine people and a ten-member steering committee were also elected. For the first time, a woman, Fasla Yusuf, made it into the politburo. The position of chairman, which has been empty since Ismaʿil ʿUmar’s death in 2010, was not filled. Ahmad Chato, a newly elected member of the politburo, told KurdWatch »A few weeks before the party congress, we formed a legal preparatory committee. Among other things, the committee recommended that we eliminate the position of chairman. No one should hold this position after Ismaʿil ʿUmar. The recommendation was accepted.« Originally the »dual leadership« of chairman and secretary was created to prevent the two wings of the party from splitting: Both al‑Qamischli/Jazirah wing under Ismaʿil ʿUmar and the ʿAfrin wing under Muhiyuddin Shaykh Ali were allowed to fill one of the positions and in this way could claim to lead the party. After ʿUmar’s death, his post remained vacant, as it was feared that filling it could lead to conflicts or a even a fracturing of the party. Ali, who was a member of legal preparatory committee for the party congress, is now being accused of trying to disempower the al‑Qamishli/Jazirah wing of the party by eliminating the position of chairman and through his own re-election. According to these accusations, his re-election only came about because the party congress took place in ʿAfrin; he supposedly has fewer supporters than the al‑Qamishli/Jazirah wing. In addition, the al‑Qamishli/Jazirah wing is accusing him of cooperating with the regime for years and in effect implementing the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) since the revolution.

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KURDWATCH, April 21, 2013—On April 11, 2013, the secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Equality Party in Syria, ʿAziz Dawud, died following a serious illness. Dawud founded the Equality Party in 1992 and has acted as its secretary since then.

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KURDWATCH, April 19, 2013—Fighting in the Shaykh Maqsud district in Aleppo has been ongoing since March 29, 2013 [further information]. Government troops are routinely bombarding the district with missles. According to media reports, more than forty civilians have been killed thus far. The battle lines are drawn between the regime on one side and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), and the Kurdish Front Brigade on the other. Reportedly the Kurdish Front Brigade was originally initiated by the Supreme Kurdish Council—the common council of the Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council of West Kurdistan. In a founding video from January 2013, FSA and YPG flags are visible. In later videos, the PYD‑flags are missing. Moreover Kurdish Front Brigade has announced that it has completely crossed over to the FSA. According to its own statements, the YPG is currently preventing government troops from marching into Shaykh Maqsud, and is thus fighting on the side of the opposition in Aleppo.

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KURDWATCH, April 19, 2013—At least fourteen civilians were killed in a Syrian Air Force attack on the village of Tall Haddad (thirty kilometers west of al‑Yaʿrubiyah [Tel Koçer]). The attack was directed at a Free Syrian Army unit. Both Kurds and Arabs live in Tall Haddad and the surrounding villages. The area has been controlled by the Free Syrian Army for several weeks.

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KURDWATCH, April 18, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from April 6 to 12, 2013, again resulted in numerous dead and injured. On April 12, demonstrators throughout the country once again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Syria is too strong to be divided«. Due to fighting between the FSA and government troops [further information] there were no demonstrations in al‑Qamishli. In ʿAmudah there were three dissident demonstrations, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. There were three demonstrations in al‑Hasakah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and Arab groups. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiya (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the Kurdish districts in Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, April 18, 2013—On April 11, 2013, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) began a push to take al‑Qamishli. It bombarded the militarily important airport with surface-to-surface missiles from several of the Arab villages it controls about ten kilometers south of the city. Government troops responded in turn with surface-to-surface missiles. The fighting lasted around twenty-four hours. At least two FSA missiles struck residences about two kilometers north of the airport; there were no fatalities or injuries among the civilian population. There is no information about the number of victims among the combatants. Thousands of residents left their homes near the airport.

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KURDWATCH, April 17, 2013—On April 6, 2013, a member of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), ʿAli Sido ʿAbdo (b. 1978 in Raju, married, no children), was found dead near a highway near Raju. The body showed signs of torture, as well as bullet wounds to the head. ʿAbdo had been missing since April 4, 2013. Muhammad Salih Khalil, member of el‑Partî’s politburo, told KurdWatch: »The YPG repeatedly threatened ʿAbdo, but I can’t say that the YPG murdered him. For such an accusation, one needs evidence. However, the YPG and PYD have already threatened and kidnapped members of our party repeatedly; several days ago, one of our party members was even murdered« [further information on the case].

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KURDWATCH, April 17, 2013—In early April, government-affiliated Syrian media reported on government plans, according to which the number of Syrian provinces would be increased from fourteen to seventeen. According to these reports, the provinces of al‑Hasaka, Aleppo, and Homs are to be split. The city of al‑Qamishli and its surroundings are to become a new province, as is the region around Aleppo, which is to be separated from the city of Aleppo. In addition, there are plans for the creation of a province by Tadmur (Palmyra) in the Syrian desert. The government has not yet officially commented on the plans. The restructuring could lead to the creation of two predominantly Kurdish provinces: the province of al‑Qamishli, which along with the city of the same name could encompass all or part of the predominantly Kurdish regions in Northeast Syria, as well as a province that would include the predominantly Kurdish districts of ʿAfrin and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). These districts constitute a large part of the rural regions of the current province of Aleppo. One reason for the restructuring could be that the government wants to create provinces that are not under the control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)—this would be true for the two Kurdish provinces and the new desert province. The latter would be problematic because of its small population (under 100 000) and the fact that there would be no cities in the province according to Syrian law—such a city would need at least 50 000 residents.

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KURDWATCH, April 12, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from March 30 to April 5, 2013, once again resulted in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area Homs und Darʿa. On April 5, demonstrators throughout the country once again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »We are refugees, honor and dignity are our motto«. There were no demonstrations in al‑Qamishli, however, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized a funeral march there for three YPG‑fighters who had been killed the previous day [further information on the case]. In ʿAmudah and ad‑Darbasiyah, PYD‑supporters took part in a funeral march for another YPG‑fighter who had been killed in an accident. In Damascus and ar‑Raqqa, PYD supporters celebrated the birthday of Abdullah Öcalan. In ʿAmudah there were two dissident demonstrations, organized by the Kurdish National Council and various youth groups. In al‑Hasakah there were three demonstrations, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and Arab groups. Moreover, the Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the majority Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, April 12, 2013—On April 4, 2013, armed members of the Arab tribe Tai, which has close ties to the regime, occupied a mill in Qanat as‑Suwais, a Kurdish district in al‑Qamishli. They left the mill when they were surrounded by fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). Shortly thereafter the Tai, supported by the Syrian Army, established a checkpoint on a busy roundabout from which a road to the airport which has been closed for months branches off. According to a statement by the YPG, one of its own units that passed the checkpoint was shot at from there. Three YPG fighters were killed. According to information from the YPG, the YPG then attacked several government checkpoints in al‑Qamishli, killing six soldiers and arresting several. The slain YPG‑members were buried on April 5 in al‑Qamishli. The same day, armed Tai stormed the administration of the grain silo in Qanat as‑Suwais.

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KURDWATCH, April 11, 2013—On March 29, 2013, the Free Syrian Army, including several Kurdish units, attacked the positions of government troops in the majority Kurdish Shaykh Maqsud district in Aleppo. The Syrian army subsequently bombarded the district with surface-to-surface missiles. At least five civilians were killed, including two children. The fighting continued in the following days. Numerous people fled toward ʿAfrin, where they found shelter with relatives or in public buildings.

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KURDWATCH, April 8, 2013—On March 29 and 30  2013, a total of 246 delegates from Syria and abroad, approximately ten percent of whom were women, took part in the 7th Party Congress of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) in ʿAmudah. Ibrahim Biro was elected secretary general and Hasan Salih his deputy. In addition the delegates elected a new politburo comprised of thirteen people. Three additional members from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab, Aleppo, and ʿAfrin are to be added at a later date. Party members from these cities reportedly did not travel to ʿAmudah for the party congress for security reasons. The respective local groups will therefore determine their politburo representatives in a special election. The party congress, which was named after Tahsin Khairi Mamo, a party member who died in custody [further information on the case], affirmed the Yekîtî’s political line and pledged itself to the following goals:
– Overthrow of the dictatorial regime and implementation of the goals of the Syrian revolution: freedom and dignity.
– Formation of a democratic, federal, pluralistic, and secular Syria.
– Freedom for all political prisoners who have been imprisoned by the regime.
The Yekîtî is the only Kurdish party in Syria to elect a new party head for the fifth time in a row without the election resulting in a split in the party.

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KURDWATCH, April 7, 2013—On March 27, 2013, supporters of the Kurdish Democratic Political Union—Syria organized a rally in front of the electric company in ʿAmudah. They protested against the recurring power shutdowns of late. The protests were directed against the Democratic Union  (PYD), which controls the water and electric companies in ʿAmudah. A participant in the rally reported to KurdWatch: »We had not even been at the location for an hour when members of the YPG [the PYD’s armed militia] appeared and demanded that we break up the rally. When we continued our protest, they shot into the air. Our youth could not put up with that; we pelted the YPG with stones. The YPG then shot directly at us. Three participants in our rally were hit.« A PYD‑member told KurdWatch: »What can the officials for the electric company do about the shortage of electricity? The electricity is fed into the power grid in al‑Hasakah and other locations; our supporters in ʿAmudah don’t have electricity either. The demonstrators were not peaceful. Some were armed; they shot and wounded a YPG‑member. Even the PYD’s party office was pelted with stones, and additionally the headquarters of the Kurdish Red Half Moon«.

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KURDWATCH, April 5, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from March 23 to 29, 2013, resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and Darʿa. On March 29, demonstrators throughout the country once again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »And give [the] good news to the patient«. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council again demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) organized only one demonstration in al‑Qamishli. It took place under the slogan »No to emmigration, Yes to return«. In al‑Qamishli one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Farhad Martyrs youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). In ʿAmudah there were two separate demonstrations, organized by the Kurdish National Council and various youth groups. There were also two demonstration in al‑Hasakah, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, the other by Arab groups. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. There were no protests inʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the mainly Kurdish districts in Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, April 2, 2013—On March 14, 2013, fighters for the Kurdish Intervention Forces, an armed unit under the command of Masʿud Hasan (member of Lazgin Mahmud Fakhri’s Kurdish Democratic Party—Syria) refused to give up their weapons at checkpoint of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) in al‑Hasakah. When the YPG insisted upon the disarmament, shots were exchanged, after which fighters for the intervention forces kidnapped three members of the YPG. After mediation by the Kurdish National Council, the YPG‑fighters were released on March 15, Lazgin Fakhri told KurdWatch: »After the release of its members, the YPG invited Hasan to talks to resolve the misunderstandings and normalize the atmosphere. However, when he arrived at the YPG, he was arrested. Hasan may have made a mistake when he arrested the YPG‑members, but the YPG had no right to disarm him. Actually, the relationship between the YPG and Hasan was good. Hasan and his forces actively protected al‑Hasakah’s Kurdish districts from the regime.« The Kurdish Intervention Forces are considered non-partisan, many of its fighters are neither members nor supporters of Lazgin Mahmud Fakhri’s Kurdish Democratic Party—Syria.

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KURDWATCH, April 1, 2013—After Free Syrian Army (FSA) units captured the majority Arab-inhabited city of Tall Birak (forty kilometers south al‑Qamishli) as well as several surrounding villages, Syrian army ground troops, supported by the air force and surface-to-surface missiles, marched into the city on March 14, 2013. On March 15, FSA units were able to regain control over the city. Dozens of army personnel were killed in the fighting.

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KURDWATCH, April 1, 2013—Anas ʿAbdulhakim al‑Husayni (b. 1983 in al‑Qamishli), Yasir Husayn Karami (b. 1979 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab [Kobanî], member of the SAWA‑Coalition) and ʿAbdurraʾuf ʿAbdulilah al‑Husayni (b. 1983 in al‑Qamishli) were arrested by employees of the State Security Service in Damascus on December 31, 2012. Anas al‑Husayni was a manager of a cleaning company that specialized in state facilities (including sensitive buildings like the Foreign Ministry and the Presidential Palace). The other two people arrested worked as foremen for the same company. On March 2, 2013, Syrian television channels broadcast an interview with Anas al‑Husayni in which he confessed to having planned an assassination attempt on the Syrian president. Thus far neither family members nor attorneys have had access to the detainees.

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KURDWATCH, March 31, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week of March 16 to 22, 2013, resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs und Darʿa. On March 22, demonstrators throughout the country once again demanded the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Your chemical weapons will never stop the prevalence of freedom«. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council once again demanded the recogntion of the rights of the Kurds, whereas the Democratic Union Party (PYD) did not organize any protests. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration each took place in the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Farhad Martyr youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). In ʿAmudah there were two separate demonstrations, organized by the Kurdish National Council and the various youth groups. There were also two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, the other by Arab groups. The Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) did not take place until Saturday. There were no protests ʿAfrin and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the mainly Kurdish districts in Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, March 30, 2013—On March 19, 2013, the National Coalition in Istanbul elected Ghassan Hittu (b. 1963 in Damascus) the first head of government of the Syrian Opposition. Against expectations, Hittu was elected by simple majority. Thirty-five of the fifty-three delegates present voted for him, including the contingent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Nine delegates left the session in protest, as they had anticipated an appointment by common accord. In the coming weeks, a government based in the liberated regions of Northern Syria is to be formed. Hittu has been active against the regime since the beginning of the Syrian revolution two years ago. He is of Kurdish origin, but thus far has neither taken an active stand on the Kurdish question nor publically stated his opinion on the matter. Before his election, he was little-known within oppositional circles.

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KURDWATCH, March 28, 2013—On March 21, 2013, more than forty people were killed in an bomb attack on a mosque in Damascus, including the Sunni cleric Muhammad Saʿid Ramadan al‑Buti (b. 1929). Al‑Buti, who was of Kurdish origin, had maintained good relations with the ruling Assad family for decades. He was one of the few Sunni supporters of the regime who also enjoyed great respect in the Islamic world. Representatives of the government and the opposition are blaming one another for the attack.

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KURDWATCH, March 28, 2013—On March 19, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), aided by members of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, attacked a rally by the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). The rally was intended to celebrate the Kurdish New Year’s festival Newroz. A Yekîtî activist told KurdWatch: »The attackers wanted to prevent our demonstration on the grounds that we had not applied for permission with the Asayiş [PYD security service]. We told them that, just like the PYD, we are members of the Supreme Kurdish Council and don’t need permission from other members. They didn’t like that at all, and they subsequently shot into the air above our heads. Then we took shots into the air as well. We can do that, too. Then they disappeared.« About two hours after the incident, the gathering dispersed.

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KURDWATCH, March 24, 2013—On March 17, 2013, Sultana ʿAli (b. 1968, married) and an infant were killed by missile fire in the al‑Mufti district of al‑Hasakah. Two other children each lost a hand. Many others suffered minor injuries.

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KURDWATCH, March 23, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week of March 9 to 15, 2013, resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and Darʿa. On March 15, demonstrators throughout the country continued to demand the fall of the regime. They gathered under the common slogan »Two years of conflict and the victory of our revolution has appeared« and commemorated the first dissident demonstrations, which took place in Damascus exactly two years before. Supporters of the Kurdish National also celebrated the anniversary of the revolution; at the same time, they remembered the victims of the poison gas attack on Halabja (Iraqi-Kurdistan) twenty-five years ago. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) took to the streets under the slogan »We will not forget the massacre of Halabja«. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq, and Farhad Martyr youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council) as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. There were also three demonstrations in al‑Hasakah: one organized by the Kurdish National Council, one by the PYD, and one by dissident Arab groups. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). Supporters of the Kurdish National Council organized one demonstration in each of the cities of ʿAfrin, ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê).

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KURDWATCH, March 23, 2013—On March 14, 2013, approximately eighty members of the parties united in the Kurdish Democratic Political Union—Syria protested in ʿAmudah against the Union’s political powerlessness. After demonstrating in front of the offices of the member parties, the demonstrators gathered in a meeting hall and began a hunger strike. They called upon the parties to form a true union and in particular to unite their military forces. After leading politicians for the Union visited the protestors, the hunger strike ended that same day.

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2013—At eleven o’clock local time on March 12, 2013, hundreds of thousands in the Kurdish regions took part in a minute of silence to mark the ninth anniversary of the »al‑Qamishli Uprising« and remember the victims of 2004. Tens of thousands subsequently participated in demonstrations in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, al‑Hasakah, al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), ʿAfrin, Jindiras, Raju, and Aleppo. Numerous stores remained closed. Members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) organized additional military parades in al‑Malikiyah and ʿAfrin. The demonstrations were peaceful. In all locations, supporters of the Kurdish National Council and the PYD demonstrated separately.

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2013—On March 16, 2013, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) attacked supporters of the Kurdish National Council in Raju (twenty kilometers northwest of ʿAfrin). Following a minute of silence to mark the anniversary of the poison-gas attack on Halabja (Iraqi Kurdistan), the Kurdish National Council supporters had chanted slogans celebrating the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Later, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) attacked several homes belonging to the Kurdish Sido family—the family is known for its close ties to ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî). Shervan ʿAli Sido was killed; Luqman, Barzan, Mustafa Jamal, Muhamad, and Anwar Sido were kidnapped by the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, March 21, 2013—On March 13 and 14. 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) once again attacked several Kurdish villages near ʿAfrin. At least ten people were kidnapped, including members of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) and Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party (Azadî). A leading member of the Azadî told KurdWatch: »The Syrian telephone networks haven’t been working in days, Turkish cell phones have no reception here, and the streets are controlled by the YPG. Therefore we cannot say exactly how many people have been kidnapped. The Supreme Kurdish Committee was negotiating between us and the YPG so that those kidnapped on March 8 would be released. With the new kidnappings, the YPG wants to show that there can be no power alongside the YPG.«

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KURDWWATCH, March 19, 2013 – Mustafa ʿAbdo ʿIso (b. 1963 in Jindiras, married, five children) was severely wounded in a missile attack on February 26, 2013 in the Shaykh Maqsud district of Aleppo. The member of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) succumbed to his injuries on March 13, 2013.

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KURDWATCH, March 16, 2013—On March 11, 2013, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service (Asayiş) distributed leaflets in places including al‑Qamishli and ʿAfrin. The leaflets set a deadline for people in the Kurdish areas to apply for a gun license. All weapons must be registered with the Asayiş by March 31 2013. Beginning in April, people who own unregistered weapons will be punished. In addition, gun licenses are only to be provided for light weapons; according to the leaflet, heavy weapons are banned. In some locations, instructions from the Asayiş were announced over the loudspeakers of the mosques.

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KURDWATCH, March 15, 2013—On March 8, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s‑(PYD) People’s Defense Units‑(YPG) attacked the Kurdish villages of Basuta, Burj ʿAbdullah, and Kimar (approximately ten kilometers south of ʿAfrin) with heavily armed vehicles. The villages are considered the stronghold of Mustafa Dschumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party (Azadî). Three people—ʿAdil Hasan, ʿUmar Nabu, and ʿAlaʾ ʿAbdu—were killed by gunshot wounds, and numerous others were injured. In addition, forty-five to fifty people were kidnapped, including ʿAbdurrahman Apo, member of the politburo of Mustafa Jumʿa’s Azadî. An Azadî checkpoint in Basuta was also destroyed. Mustafa Mahmud ʿAti, a leading member of the Azadî in Aleppo, told KurdWatch: »Our members and supporters still follow the party’s instructions not to shoot at the YPG. Not even if it attacks. But the YPG has crossed all boundaries. If it continues like this, the Azadî will be forced to defend itself militarily. We hope that it doesn’t go that far.«

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KURDWATCH, March 15, 2013—On February 26, 2013, Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) left the Supreme Kurdish Committee. Mustafa Mahmud ʿAti, leading member of the party in Aleppo told KurdWatch: »We left the Supreme Kurdish Commission to protest against the kidnapping of our party members by the Democratic Union Party, which is also a member of the Committee. We also want to protest against the fact that the Committee did nothing to free our members.«

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KURDWATCH, March 14, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week of March 2 to 8, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and ar‑Raqqa. On February 8, demonstrators throughout the country again demanded the fall of the regime. They took to the streets united under the slogan »Your sectarian state will not succeed«, which referred to the ʿAlawite areas’ potential splitting-off from the rest of Syria. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council and the Democratic Union (PYD) celebrated Women’s Day in separate demonstrations. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Martyr Farhad youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council) as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PKK‑affiliated women’s movement Yekîtiya Star). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. In al‑Hasakah there were three demonstrations, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, one by the PYD, and one by dissident Arab groups. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—also took place in ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the primarily Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, March 12, 2013—On February 14, 2013, three supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) attacked Ahmad Muhammad Mustafa (known as Pir Rustam), writer and member of the Central Committee of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî). They demanded he stop the loading of a transporter, to close his four stores in Jindiras, and to participate in a general strike. PKK‑affiliated organizations had called for the general strike that day to protest against the arrest and detention of Abdullah Öcalan. When Rustam refused to close his stores, the attackers tried to take him with them, but were stopped by neighbors and pedestrians. Only fifteen minutes after they had left Rustam’s shop, more than a dozen armed members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security forces (Asayiş) appeared. »They stormed into my store and brazenly asked who didn’t want to close his stores. I told them that I had long had this business appointment and couldn’t just send the transporter from Idlib [one hundred kilometers south of Jindiras] back empty. They wanted to arrest me if I didn’t participate in the strike. When we began to raise our voices, a crowd again gathered around us. Some explained to the attackers who I am. That is the only reason I wasn’t kidnapped. I still had to close my stores«. In an open statement a few days later one hundred and seventy writers, politicians, and activists condemned the PYD’s attack on Pir Rustam. In contrast, the Democratic Yekîtî, of whose Central Committee Rustam is a member, has not yet commented on the attack.

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KURDWATCH, March 10, 2013—On March 1, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) took control of several public buildings in Rumailan (two kilometers west of al‑Maʿbada [Girkê Legê]). On March 1 and 2, 2013, the YPG laid siege to the headquarters of the Political Security Directorate and the Military Intelligence Service, inside which dozens of members of the security services had barricaded themselves, as well as to a small military base. On March 2, the besieged surrendered their position; no clashes occurred on any of the days. According to statements by the YPG, thirty-five people were initially taken captive, but were released after only a few hours. Rumailan is Syria’s largest oil field.

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KURDWATCH, March 10, 2013—On March 1, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) as well as several supporters of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria surrounded a number of security headquarters and several public buildings in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). A few hours later all Syrian security forces and army personnel left the encircled buildings and the city. The YPG took control of, among other things, the headquarters of the State Security Service and the Military Intelligence Service, two police stations, the recruitment office, city hall, the headquarters of the ruling Baʿth party, and the cultural center.

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KURDWATCH, March 9, 2013—On February 16, 2013, members of the Leadership Committee of the Kurdish Ahrar-al‑Kurd-Brigade from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and the Military Committee of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) signed an agreement that provides for close cooperation between both groups. The agreement came about during the YPG’s abduction of the press spokesman for Ahrar al‑Kurd [further information on the case]. An activist close to Ahrar al‑Kurd told KurdWatch: »The leadership of Ahrar al‑Kurd was practically forced to sign the agreement. The fear that Kaban would otherwise be murdered was too great.« Ibrahim Mustafa alias Kaban himself told KurdWatch: »The content of the agreement is in itself good. But the circumstances under which the agreement came about were anything but pleasant.«
The following points were resolved in the agreement:
1. Ahrar al‑Kurd will abide by the decisions of the Supreme Kurdish Committee and act according to these
2. The forces of Ahrar al‑Kurd and the People’s Defense Units will be united.
3. Ahrar al‑Kurd will be represented in the leadership of the Military Committee of the People’s Defense Units and will act according to the decisions of the Supreme Kurdish Committee’s military leadership in the future.
4. All members of Ahrar al‑Kurd will take part in separate drills to gain military experience. Since the conclusion of the agreement, the Ahrar-al‑Kurd Brigade has frozen its relations to the Free Syrian Army, to which it had belonged until then.

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KURDWATCH, March 8, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from February 23 to March 1, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs und Idlib. On February 22, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »One nation, one flag, one war« and continued to demand the fall of the regime. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council took to the streets under the slogan »Loyalty to Barzani«, thereby commemorating the birthday of the Iraqi-Kurdish Mullah Mustafa Barzani. As in recent weeks, they also demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) gathered under the slogan »Al‑Qamishli is our dignity« and emphasized their willingness to defend the city of al-Qamishli against possible attacks by armed groups—intended here is the FSA. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Farhad Martyr youth groups), Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), and at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. In al‑Hasakah there were three demonstrations, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, one by the PYD, and one by Arab groups. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the primarily Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, March 8, 2013—On February 10, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security forces (Asayiş) in Jalabiyah (fifty kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab) kidnapped Ibrahim Mustafa (b. 1980 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab, known as Kaban). Mustafa is the press spokesman for the Kurdish brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Ahrar al‑Kurd from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Mustafa told KurdWatch »I was driving with my wife and children in my car when we were stopped by a vehicle belonging to the PYD’s Asayiş. Several armed people held their weapons to my head and forced me to ride with them. I had to leave my wife and the children alone in a strange place. They treated me very badly during the arrest. It was a horrible experience for my children and my wife, but also for me. I thought they were going to kill me.« On February 20, Mustafa was released. According to his own statements, he was not tortured while in custody, but rather was treated relatively well. At the same time, he and the Ahrar-al‑Kurd-Brigade were accused of having made contacts with enemy organizations.

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KURDWATCH, March 5, 2013—From February 9 to 11, as well as on February 23 and 24, 2013, there was heavy fighting between government troops and various units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) over the Kurdish villages Tall Hasil and Tall ʿAran. The fighting occurred a few kilometers southeast of the Aleppo international airport. At least three civilians, all members of the same family, died in their home in Tall Hasil when it was hit by a missile.

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KURDWATCH, March 5, 2013—On February 23, 2013, shots were exchanged near the al-Qamishli airport. An activist reported to KurdWatch: »It was not a skirmish with the Free Syrian Army. We suspect, rather, that one of the soldiers forced to protect the airport wanted to desert.« Several kilometers of the main access road to the al~Qamishli airport have been blocked by government forces for months. Moreover, the government has called upon residents of the poor districts north and south of the airport to leave their homes.

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KURDWATCH, March 4, 2013—In the early morning of February 21, 2013, all Syrian security forces and army personnel left the city of al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa). A few hours later, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) took control of all public buildings, including city hall, the post office, the cultural center, the registry office, and the office of the Baʿth party. At no point were there any clashes in connection with the withdrawal of state forces. Following the takeover of al‑Jawadiyah, several members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) were also in the city. It is unknown whether the FSA and the YPG cooperated.

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KURDWATCH, March 4, 2013—From February 20 to 22, 2013, heavy combat was exchanged between government troops and various Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions in the town of Tall Hamis (forty kilometers south of al‑Qamishli). The Syrian army shelled the city and bombarded it with surface-to-surface missiles, many of which struck the surrounding Arab and Kurdish villages. Prior to its offensive, the FSA had called for residents to leave the city. No civilian casualties were reported. Dozens of soldiers were killed or taken prisoner. The FSA has had complete control of Tall Hamis since February 25 at the latest. The city is predominantly inhabited by Arabs; however, there are also numerous Kurdish villages in the surrounding area

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KURDWATCH, February 28, 2013—OnFebruary 10, 2013, several Free Syrian Army (FSA) units took control of large parts of the city of ash‑Shaddada (fifty kilometers south of al‑Hasakah). They stormed a housing development primarily inhabited by people who work at the oil field near ash‑Shaddada. The majority are ʿAlawis. Dozens of employees were kidnapped; information about their murder and burial in a mass grave could neither be confirmed nor disproven. On February 12, the Syrian army bombed FSA positions in ash‑Shaddada with surface-to-surface missiles. On February 12, shots were also exchanged between FSA and government troops in al‑Hasakah.

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KURDWATCH, February 28, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops in the week from February 16 to 22, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and Idlib. On February 22, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »The proud [city] ar‑Raqqa is on the path of freedom« and continued to demand the fall of the regime. As in recent weeks, supporters of the Kurdish National Council demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds. Supporters of the Democratic Union (PYD) gathered under the slogan »The Kurdish language is taboo [must not be repressed]«. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Martyr Farhad youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council) as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. A group of PYD supporters attacked Kurdish National Council demonstrators in ʿAmudah. No one was hurt. In al‑Hasakah there were three demonstrations, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, one by the PYD, and one by Arab groups. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa) and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). A demonstration organized by the PYD took place on Friday in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the primarily Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, February 26, 2013—On February 14, 2013, shots were exchanged in Tall Tamr (thirty-seven kilometers southeast of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn) between fighters of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and various Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions. The FSA had attempted to capture a cattle farm. Several of its fighters were killed in the clash. Since the withdrawal of government employees and regime security forces in early December 2012, Tall Tamr has been administered by a committee of Arab and Kurdish residents.

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KURDWATCH, February 24, 2013—From February 8 to February 11, 2013, heavy fighting occurred between members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and Syrian government troops in the predominantly Kurdish district al‑Ashrafiyah in Aleppo. In addition to numerous soldiers, at least five YPG fighters and two civilians were killed. According to information from the YPG, their members did not die in battle, but rather were taken prisoner by government troops, severely tortured, and then executed.

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KURDWATCH, February 23, 2013—After weeks of armed conflicts between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups [further information], including Jabhat an-Nusrah, a meeting took place between representatives of the YPG and FSA on February 17, 2013. After the meeting, a declaration covering the following resolutions was issued:
1. Repositioning of military forces and complete withdrawal of all military units from the city.
2. Temporary formation by mutual agreement of a steering committee composed of representatives from both sides, whose task is to supervise the implementation of this declaration.
3. Formation by mutual agreement of a civilian local committee composed of representatives of the city’s various [ethnic and religious] groups to administer all city issues.
4. The control of the border crossing by this committee.
5. The local committee is sovereign. Military forces may not influence its work.
6. Establishment of joint YPG and FSA checkpoints at the entrances to the city.
7. Simplification of the procedures and protection of people, goods, and military forces of both sides when passing through checkpoints belonging to the other side.
8. Cooperation of FSA and YPG to free those cities that remain under the control of the regime.
9. Cities and villages in which the regime is not present, such as ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAmudah, Tall Tamr, al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), and al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), are free cities. They will be declared as such in a joint declaration by both sides.
10. End of all hostile campaigns by both sides.
11. The introduction [which speaks out against racism and for the fall of the Syrian regime] is an integral part of this agreement.

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KURDWATCH, February 21, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops in the week from February 9 to February 15, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and Idlib. On February 15, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »He was content with Allah as supporter« and continued to demand the fall of the regime. As in recent weeks, supporters of the Kurdish National Council demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds and the withdrawal of armed groups from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) remembered the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in 1998 with the slogan »Condemnation of the international conspiracy«. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Martyr Farhad youth groups), Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council) and Qanat Suwais (organized by the PYD). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups, including Avahî. There were three demonstrations in al‑Hasakah, one was organized by the PYD. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). In al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), PYD supporters organized one demonstration. The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) or al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa) nor in the mainly Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, February 20, 2013—On February 2, 2013 in al‑Qamishli, seventy-five representatives of thirty-five Kurdish youth organizations, only two of whom were women, elected ten delegates to the Kurdish National Council. The Union of Cooperation of Kurdish Youth in Syria, as the largest organization, was represented with nine seats at the respective conference. In contrast, the PYD-affiliated youth groups did not take part. The SAWA coalition and Avahî also did not take part, as both are members of the Syrian National Council and would have had to leave that council in order to be allowed to participate in elections for the Kurdish National Council. The Youth Conference was organized by a committee of the Kurdish National Council, which included, among others, the chairman of the Kurdish National Council, Faisal Yusuf, and Ismaʿil Hami, Secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). All of the delegates elected at the Youth Conference are affiliated with the Kurdish Democratic Political Union—Syria. According to an activist, this group was far better prepared than the independent youth groups, whose representatives hardly knew each other and had not made any agreement to elect common candidates. Therefore many representatives of smaller groups elected the Union’s candidates. Another independent activist told Kurdwatch, »If we had voted for representatives of the Democratic Yekîtî or the Advancement Party, we could have just as well have given our vote to the PYD«. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) and the Kurdish Advancement Party in Syria are frequently accused of being to close to the PYD or the regime. Political goals and strategies were not discussed during the conference. Prior to the conference, problems arose because the time and place of the conference had been changed the day before without informing all participants. Those present, however, decided, to wait for those who were missing in order to prevent another failure to elect youth representatives. This election originally was supposed to take place on January 28, 2013. Due to disputes within the parties of the Kurdish Democratic Political Union—Syria, which accused one another of colluding to manipulate elections, the first conference had to be cancelled.

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KURDWATCH, February 19, 2013—On January 30, 2013, heavy fighting occurred between government troops and Free Syrian Army (FSA) units in the mainly Kurdish district of al‑Ashrafiyah in Aleppo. On January 31, the Syrian air force, supported by surface-to-surface missiles, intervened in the fighting. At least eighteen non-participating civilians were killed.

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KURDWATCH, February 19, 2013—On January 28, 2013, a car bomb explosion in al‑Hasakah killed the driver of the vehicle. There were no other deaths or injuries even though the explosion occurred near a school and several government agencies. The reason behind the explosion is unclear.

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KURDWATCH, February 16, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops in the week from February 2 to 8, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and Idlib. On February 8, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan » And hold fast, all together, unto the bond with God, and do not draw apart from one another« and continued to demand the fall of the regime. As in recent weeks supporters of the Kurdish National Council demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds and the withdrawal of armed groups from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) gathered under the slogan »Cooperation of the Kurdish people«. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration was organized in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq, and Martyr Farhad youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). PYD supporters also organized a rally at the Turkish-Syrian border crossing in al‑Qamishli. During the rally, eleven trucks crossed the border loaded with relief supplies gathered by Kurdish organizations in Turkey. They were delivered to representatives of the Supreme Kurdish Committee. Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. There were two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah. Two demonstrations—one organized by PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. The PYD also organized a demonstration in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) on Saturday. There were no protests in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) or al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), nor in the Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, February 16, 2013—On January 30, 2013, members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) kidnapped Ahmad Shaykh Sinan (b. 1945 in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn, married, member of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria [el‑Partî]) in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). A few hours after the kidnapping, Sinan’s corpse was found; his body exhibited broken bones and several bullet wounds. When relatives accompanied by members of the Kurdish Democratic Political Union—Syria sought to bring the corpse to a coroner in ad‑Darbasiyah, they were prevented from continuing on at a checkpoint controlled by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG). Sinan was buried on January 31 in Faqira near Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê).

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KURDWATCH, February 13, 2013—On February 7, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) abducteded ʿAlaʾuddin Hamam, leading member of Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), his son Sardar, and Salah Shahin Daʿu (also Azadî members) in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî).

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KURDWATCH, February 11, 2013—On February 5, 2013, fighters for the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) ended the siege of the village of Kahf al‑Assad (Banê Şikeftê, thirty kilometers southwest of al‑Malikiyah) following mediation by the Kurdish National Council. The siege had been ongoing since February 2. No armed skirmishes occurred. The YPG justified the siege of the village, which is home to members of the Kurdish Kherikan tribe, by stating that an unknown person shooting at YPG fighters hid in the village. In the course of the siege, YPG‑ checkpoints were established not only around Kahf al‑Assad, but also in the vicinity of other villages in which Kherikan tribe members live. An activist reported to KurdWatch: »It was the third time in two years that the YPG attacked our village. This time they wanted to march into the village and disarm all of the men. That would have been a fatal mistake. The village residents are traditionally supporters of Barzani; they would never have allowed that. During the siege, no one was allowed to leave the village and not even the mediators could enter the village.«

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KURDWATCH, February 9, 2013—On January 28, 2013, members of several Arab tribes attacked the homes of Armenian and Assyrian Christians in ad‑Dalawiyah (twenty-five kilometers south of al‑Qamishli) and tried to steal the harvest from their fields. The Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) demanded an end to these »foreign deeds«. In addition, twelve Syrian human-rights organizations protested against the attack on a Christian church near Aleppo and the kidnapping of Christians in al‑Hasakah province. The kidnappings are typically connected to ransom demands. Moreover, armed Islamic groups have repeatedly called upon Christian families living in al‑Hasakah to leave their villages.

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KURDWATCH, February 7, 2013—On January 31, 2013, Kamal Mustafa Hanan (b. 1954 in ʿAfrin, married, three children) was fatally shot near his home in the mainly Kurdish district of al‑Ashrafiyah in Aleppo. Hanan was the editor-in-chief of the Kurdish language journal Newroz and a former member of the leadership of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî). On February 1, the Democratic Yekîtî organized a funeral march near ʿAfrin to mark the burial. Representatives of many of the parties in the Kurdish National Council as well as representatives of the PYD took part in the burial. It is unclear if this was a targeted assassination or if Hanan was accidentally hit by a bullet.

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KURDWATCH, February 7, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops in the week from January 26 to February 1, 2013, resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and Idlib. On February 1, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »The international community is Assad’s partner in his massacres« and continued to demand the fall of the regime. As in recent weeks, supporters of the Kurdish National Council demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds and the withdrawal of armed groups from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) gathered under the slogan »The YPG is our strength, and the Supreme Kurdish Committee is our representation«. In al‑Qamishli one demonstration each took place in the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Martyr Farhad youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), as well as at Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. There were two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD and the other by the Kurdish National Council—also took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) or al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), nor in the Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, February 5, 2013—On January 23, 2013, members of the Syrian opposition formed the »National Committee for the Protection of Social Peace and the Revolution«. The eight-member council, of which a representative of the Kurdish National Council is also a part, wants to mediate between the warring parties in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) [further information] and achieve an unconditional end to the conflict.

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KURDWATCH, February 3, 2013—On January 25, 2013, Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters kidnapped Hikmat Ahmad Muhammad, a leading member of Mustafa Oso’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), his son Ahmad (also an Azadî member), as well as two of their relatives, Hasan Jumʿah Muhammad and Sarbast Sultan Muhammad. According to a statement by the Azadî, the kidnappers announced that the four will not be released until FSA fighter Ahmad Kamil ar‑Rumi, who was taken by the PYD, is set free.

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KURDWATCH, February 3, 2013—On January 21, 2013, fighting ceased between the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Syrian army over the Tall ʿAdas (Gir Zîro) oil field [further information]. The Syrian army abandoned the oil field after a majority of its soldiers fled and Damascus did not send military support.

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KURDWATCH, February 1, 2013—On January 28, 2013 militants of the Democratic Union Party's People's Defense Units (YPG) in al‑Qamishli kidnapped the activist Sherin Ahmad (b. in al‑Qamishli, married, one child) at her place of employment. The reasons behind the abduction are not yet known. According to statements by relatives, Ahmad is being treated well.

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KURDWATCH, February 1, 2013—On January 28, 2013, unknown people set fire to the business of the al‑Hilali family near the Qasimo mosque in the western district of al‑Qamishli with Molotov cocktails. The shop was completely gutted by the fire. ʿUsama al‑Hilali is a leading member of the Mishʿal-at‑Tammu Brigade, which is fighting with other armed groups against the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units [further information].

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KURDWATCH, January 31, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops in the week from January 19 to 25, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs and Idlib. On January 25, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »Our eternal leader is our Lord [the prophet] Muhammad« and continued to demand the fall of the regime. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council distanced themselves from this slogan and demanded, as in previous weeks, the recognition of the rights of the Kurds and an end to the fighting in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), on the other hand, gathered under the slogan »The Martyrs of Serê Kaniyê«. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq, and Farhad Martyrs youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). In ʿAmudah, three separate demonstrations took place, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. A group of approximately twenty YPG‑people attacked the demonstration by the youth groups in ʿAmudah; no one was injured. There were two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—also took place in both al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The Supreme Kurdish Council organized a demonstration in ad‑Darbasiyah; the participants demanded an end to the fighting in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) and the withdrawal of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamist groups from the city. After a prolonged interruption, the PYD once again organized a demonstration in ʿAfrin on January 24. The Kurdish National Council's weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn or al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), nor in the Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, January 27, 2013—On January 17, 2013, several minibuses from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) were stopped by armed members of the Islamic organization Jabhat an-Nusrah near Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê); forty-five Kurdish passengers were kidnapped. On January 20, eight of the captives were released. On January 22, the remaining thirty-seven were released following an intervention by the FSA‑Brigade Ahrar-al‑Kurd from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab. Three people came away with bullet wounds. In an interview, several of those released stated that they had been tortured.

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KURDWATCH, January 27, 2013—During fighting with the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) on January 16, 2013 near Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), armed members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) abducted numerous Kurdish civilians and accused them of being members of the PYD. A video released on the internet shows the kidnapped victims being held in a house and interrogated by several armed people. In the course of the interrogation, they are beaten with billy clubs and kicked.

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KURDWATCH, January 26, 2013—On January 6, 2013, the ceasefire [further information] between the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) and units of the Free Syrian Army in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) was broken again. Since this time there has been continued fighting using heavy artillery. Activists report that several armed Kurdish groups are participating on the side of the Free Syrian army, including the Mishʿal‑at‑Tammu‑Brigade. Several battalions of the Islamic group Jabhat an-Nusrah are also fighting in the ranks of the FSA. Leading politicians of several member-parties in the Kurdish National Council – for example ʿAbdulhakim Bashar's Kurdish Democratic Party and the Kurdish Left Party in Syria – expressed their readiness to support the YPG. Members of the Kurdish Advancement Party in Syria and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) already do so. At least eleven PYG‑members and six civilians have been killed to date. Activists also report dozens of deaths on the FSA side. On January 18, the Kurdish National Council called for an end to the fighting, the release of all prisoners, and the condemnation of the attacks by the leadership of the Free Syrian Army and the National Coalition. In a statement, the Syrian National Council also called for an end to the fighting, but without taking sides.

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KURDWATCH, January 24, 2013 Since January 9, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) have surrounded an oil field near Tall ʿAdas (Gir Zîro) [ten kilometers east of al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê)]. The area is being guarded by the Syrian military. On January 14, 17, and 19, fighting occurred between the two sides. Several soldiers were injured in the process, and others were taken captive by the YPG. After a meeting between representatives of the People's Council of West Kurdistan, the Kurdish National Council, and Arab tribal leaders, the captives were released. An activist told KurdWatch, »We presume that by expelling government soldiers, the YPG wants to prevent the Free Syrian Army from having a pretense to attack or take over the oil field«.

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KURDWATCH, January 24, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops in the week from January 12 to January 18, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Hama and Idlib. On January 18,, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »University of the Revolution, Techniques of Martyrdom« and continued to demanded the fall of the regime. The slogan recalled the approximately ninety students who were killed in an air attack on the University of Aleppo. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council carried banners with similar content and also demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds and an end to the fighting in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). Supporters of the Democratic Union Party  (PYD), on the other hand, gathered under the slogan »[Court‑]trial for the assassins of the Kurdish women activists«. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Farhad Martyrs youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). In ʿAmudah, three separate demonstrations took place, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. In al‑Hasakah there were two demonstrations. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD and the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The Kurdish National Council's weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin, Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), or al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), nor in the mainly Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, January 24, 2013—On January 10 and 11, 2013, 211 National Council members participated in the alliance's second conference in al‑Qamishli. Representatives from a total of fifteen Kurdish parties, non-partisans, and representatives of several women and youth groups took part. As the youth groups were only allotted fifteen, rather than the previous thirty percent of the seats in the National Council, the Kurdish Youth Movement, the Movement of Revolutionary Youth, the Union of the Cooperation of Kurdish Youth in Syria, and the General Council of Kurdish Youth did not participate in the conference. These groups further accused the parties of favoring members of party-affiliated youth groups in order to create additional seats for the parties. Those gathered elected a total of 65 delegates to the Kurdish National Council; ten additional members are to be chosen from the ranks of the youth representatives at a youth conference. Thus the number of members in the Kurdish National Council will be reduced by a total of 258—from 333 to 75 people. In the closing statement, those gathered spoke out in favor of a federal, democratic Syria and confirmed the political stance they have held to date.

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KURDWATCH, January 20, 2013—On January 11, 2013, armed members of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) stormed the military drill ground »Newroz« near ʿAli Faru (ten kilometers west of al‑Qamishli) with vehicles. The drill ground, which belongs to the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), was opened in early January. All Kurdish flags and Syrian independence flags were removed. A member of the Yekîtî told KurdWatch: »The drill ground was deserted. The YPG justified its actions to eyewitnesses by explaining that the flags would give the regime a pretense for air attacks.« In a statement, the Yekîtî condemned the actions of the YPG.

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KURDWATCH, January 19, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops in the week of January 5 to January 11, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the financial center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Hama and Idlib. On January 11, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »Refugee camps of death« and again called for the fall of the regime. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council held banners stating similar content and also demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds. Several youth groups used the demonstrations to criticize the organizers of the second plenary assembly of the Kurdish National Council. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on the other hand gathered under the slogan »Martyr Khabat Derik, leader of the YPG« [download interview]. In addition, they protested the murder of three PKK women activists in Paris. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Farhad Martyrs youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council) as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. There were two demonstrations in al‑Hasakah. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The Kurdish National Council's weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. The PYD organized a demonstration in the predominantly Kurdish district of Wadi al‑Mashariʿ (Zorava) in Damascus. There were no protests in ʿAfrin, Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), or al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), nor in the mainly Kurdish districts of Aleppo.

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KURDWATCH, January 18, 2013—On December 13, 2012, Munzir Iskan Ahmad, Firas Jumʿah al‑Ahmad, Jiwan Yusuf Yusuf [further information on the case], and Husayn ʿAbdulkhaliq ʿAli were acquitted by the criminal court in al‑Hasakah on the charge of killing a police officer. They were sentenced to six and a half years in prison pursuant to Articles 287, 267, and 305 of the criminal code. The sentences of Ahmad and al‑Ahmad were reduced to three years due to mitigating circumstances and Amnesty Decree No. 10, dated January 15, 2012. Both were released from custody the same day. The prison terms for Yusuf und ʿAli were reduced for the same reasons, but since they have absconded, the sentence was reduced to five years only. The remainder of the sentence is still to be served.

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KURDWATCH, January 15, 2013—From January 1 to January 5, 2013, 336 members of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG), as well as its affiliated organizations took part in the first plenary meeting of the YPG's Military Committees in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). The closing statement describes the plenary meeting as a »fundamental step toward the creation of a national army for West Kurdistan«. Those assembled resolved to establish a Military General Committee and three military command centers in ʿAfrin, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), and the Jazirah, and to establish further local military committees. They emphasized »the unity of the struggle of the Syrian people« and the significance of building good relationships between the YPG and the armed forces of the Syrian opposition. Those who died in the Syrian revolution were described as martyrs and in particular the children who have been killed were described as icons of the Arab-Kurdish brotherhood. Next to its own flag, the YPG raised the Syrian independence flag, symbol of the Free Syrian Army. In recent months, members of the YPG and PYD have repeatedly kidnapped or attacked activists for displaying the independence flag at demonstrations or hanging it in party offices. The reason given for this was that the flag was the symbol of the enemies of the Kurds.

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KURDWATCH, January 15, 2013—On January 3, 2013, altercations between members of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG) and members of the Yekîtî's newly-founded Jiwan Qatna Battalion occurred in front of the office of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) in ad‑Darbasiyah. Both sides fired shots into the air. In addition, Nizamuddin ʿAliko, Sulayman Mizar al‑ʿIsa, Jiwan Mirkhan, and Ismaʿil ʿAbdulbaqi ʿAli were kidnapped by the YPG. The YPG accused them of being members of an Islamic group. An activist associated with the Yekîtî told KurdWatch: »Members of the Jiwan Qatna Battalion were trained in weapons on a drill ground between Raʾs al‑ʿAyn and ad‑Darbasiyah by members of the Martyr Tahsin Mamo Battalion. The PYD does not accept that other Kurdish groups are also arming themselves, even if it is only to protect the Kurds«. Yekîtî supporters organized a rally in ad‑Darbasiyah to protest the abduction. After an intervention by the Kurdish National Council, the kidnapped victims were released the same day.

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KURDWATCH, January 13, 2013—On January 2, 2013, a bomb exploded near the al‑Qamishli regional office, injuring four members of the security forces. Information about the casualties could not be confirmed. The reasons for the explosion are not yet known.

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KURDWATCH, January 12, 2013—On January 3, 2013, armed supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in al‑Qamishli fired shots from a vehicle at the office of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). Yekîtî members returned fire and injured one of the attackers in the shoulder.

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KURDWATCH, January 10, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops in the week of December 29, 2012 to January 4, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital Damascus, and the area around Hama and Idlib. On January 4, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »Homs calls the free to end the siege« and once again called for the fall of the regime. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council did not demonstrate under a common slogan; some demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds; others called attention to alleged irregularities in elections to the Kurdish National Council's local committees. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) gathered under the slogan »Unity of the Freedom Youth«. In al‑Qamishli one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Farhad Martyrs youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council). In addition, supporters of the PYD in al‑ʿAntariyah took part in a three day »Rally of the hundred thousand« [further information]. Nevertheless, only around ten thousand participants could be mobilized by January 4. In ʿAmudah, three separate demonstrations took place, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. In al‑Hasakah, two demonstrations took place. Moreover, two demonstrations took place in both ad‑Darbasiyah and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), one organized by the PYD and the other by the Kurdish National Counil. The Kurdish National Council's weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin, Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), or al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), nor in the Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, January 10, 2013—From January 2 until January 4, 2013, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) carried out a rally in the district of al‑ʿAntariyah in al‑Qamishli. They demanded freedom and democracy for the Kurdish and the Syrian people. The organizers set up tents, and numerous activists spent the night on site. The majority of the participants in the event were members of PYD-affiliated youth groups; however, members of the youth groups of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, Nasruddin Ibrahim's Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), and the Kurdistan Union Party in Syria, as well as members of non-partisan youth groups also took part. On January 4, around ten thousand people took part in the action, which was called »The rally of the hundred thousand«.

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KURDWATCH, January 9, 2013—At the end of December 2012, a decision by the acting Syrian prime minister Waʾil Nadir al‑Halqi to dismiss a total of ninety people from the civil service was announced. Decision No. 16488, dated October 18, 2012, primarily names teachers from al‑Hasakah province, but also civil servants from other offices and provinces. A copy of the decision was signed on December 11, 2012 by the education authority in al‑Hasakah. It is unclear whether those targeted by the decision have been fired for political reasons. The decision itself does not name any reasons for the dismissals.

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KURDWATCH, January 9, 2013—On December 28, 2012, Syrian security forces shot at participants in a demonstration organized by Free Syrian Army supporters in al‑Hasakah resulting in multiple deaths and injuries. Armed members of several Arab tribes subsequently attacked positions of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG). They accused the PYD of cooperating with the regime. Members of the PYD returned fire. Three people were killed, though it is unclear whether by shots fired from PYD supporters or by Syrian security forces.

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KURDWATCH, January 7, 2013—On December 15, 2012, ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), Mustafa Khidr Oso's Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), and Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) announced the establishment of the »Kurdish Democratic Political Union—Syria«. Approximately one thousand five hundred people were present at the founding ceremony in al‑Qamishli. The Union was portrayed as a project on the way to forming a new party. Responding to the question of whether the two Azadî parties would unite within the Political Union, Dawran Malke, a member of the local committee of Mustafa Khidr Oso’s Azadî in al‑Qamishli, told KurdWatch: »Of course we want to join the two parties very quickly, but just like the other two parties, each Azadî party will initially be treated as a separate party. All steps toward unification

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KURDWATCH, January 4, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army and government troops on December 28, 2012 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Hama. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the motto »Blood bread« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council carried banners with similar content, thereby commemorating the victims of an air attack on a bakery near Hama. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) demonstrated under the slogan »The liberation of the Jazirah [lies] in the unity of the segments of its population«. In al‑Qamishli one demonstration took place in each of the districts of Qanat Suwais, al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Farhad Martyrs youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). PYD supporters provoked Kurdish National Council demonstrators in Munir Habib by driving several vehicles at walking speed into the crowd. In ʿAmudah there were three separate demonstrations, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. There were three demonstrations in al‑Hasakah. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD and the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). One demonstration organized by the PYD took place in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). The Kurdish National Council's weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the mainly Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.

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KURDWATCH, January 4, 2013—After two days of negotiations between representatives of the Free Syrian Army and the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Defense Units (YPG), both sides settled on an agreement on December 16, 2012 to end the armed conflicts in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) [further information]. Details of the agreement were not made public. According to information from KurdWatch, both sides agreed to release all prisoners, withdraw from the city, and leave the administration to representatives of the city's Kurdish, Arab, Chechen, and Christian populations. In addition, all checkpoints outside of the city are to be shared. Currently, no fighting is taking place, but the rivals have not yet abandoned their positions. At the end of December, an activist from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn told KurdWatch: »Neither side is yet pursuing a policy of detente. We fear that they will soon attack each other again.«

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