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KurdWatch, July 24, 2016—On July 9, 2016, the Tall Hamis bataillon, an armed Arab opposition group, claimed to have killed Fahman Husayn the day before during an attack on his vehicle between al‑Qamishli and Himu, six kilometers to the west. Husayn, also known as Bahoz Erdal, is a leading member of the Kurdistan Worker’ Party (PKK) and is said to the actual commander of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Defense Units (YPG). Husayn himself denied his supposed death in writing and on the phone. The news agency Reuters and the Iraqi‑Kurdish TV station Rûdaw also denied the death notice citing a journalist closely affiliated to the PYD as well as a employee of the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera, the latter claiming to have spoken to Husayn.

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KurdWatch, July 22, 2016—On July 13, 2016, Kandal Judi and Mustafa Muhammad, two journalists closely affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), were seriously injured by a landmine explosion in the city of Manbij. They had accompanied fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the PYD's People's Defense Units (YPG), during their battles against the Islamic State. Muhammad succumbed to his injuries on July 18 in a hospital in al al‑Qamishli.

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KurdWatch, July 22, 2016—On July 12, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) detained Muhammad Fanush Darwish and interrogated him for several hours in al-Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). Darwish is a member of Siamand Hajo's Kurdish Furure Movement in Syria as well as a member of the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in al-Maʿbada. He told KurdWatch that his son supposedly worked for the Asayiş, but recently fled to Turkey. Members of the Asayiş demanded from him information about the smugglers who brought his son across the border. During the interrogation they insulted him and reproached him for his Facebook entries. Moreover, on that day he lost his job at the state‑owned Syrian Petroleum Company in Rumaylan. The company refused to count his vacation days to cover the time he was absent and asked that he give them a letter of confirmation from the Asayiş that he was detained. The Asayiş refused to issue him a letter.

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KurdWatch, July 21, 2016—On July 17, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) held a demonstration against the politics of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Around fifty participants demanded among other things the release of the abducted supporters of the Kurdish National Council. The demonstration concluded without incident. 

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KurdWatch, July 21, 2016—On July 15, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in al‑Qamishli again held a demonstration against the politics of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Around seventy participants demanded among other things the release of the abducted supporters of the Kurdish National Council. The demonstration concluded without incident.

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KurdWatch, July 19, 2016—On July 10, 2016, the Syrian regime’s military police forcibly recruited young men for the Syrian army at a checkpoint near Dhibbana, seven kilometers south of al‑Qamishli, at a road connecting al‑Qamishli and Tall Hamis. Information on the number of recruits was not provided.

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KurdWatch, July 16, 2016—On July 9, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released Majdal Qasim. The Asayiş abducted Qasim on May 26 after he turned to the media to demand the release of his 16‑year‑old son Zinar. Zinar was kidnapped from his father’s house on May 23 and recruited for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) [further information]. Majdal Qasim is a member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), a party critical of the PYD.

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KurdWatch, July 15, 2016—Between June 9 and 11, 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), were able to push out Islamic State (IS) fighters from a neighborhood in the south of Manbij. The fight for the city center continues. The YPG is being supported by the US Air Force.

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KurdWatch, July 15, 2016—On July 10, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released Anwar Naso, politburo member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), Ridwan Hammu, also a Yekîtî member, as well as ʿAbdulkarim Muhammad, politburo member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S). The Asayiş abducted Muhammad on June 27 [further informaiton], Naso and Hammu on May 28 [further information]. Shortly before his release, the Asayiş took Naso to the hospital due to heart problems.  

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KurdWatch, July 14, 2016—On July 8, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) held a rally in front of their party office against the politics of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Around fifty supporters of the national council demanded among other things the release of activists and politicians detained by the PYD as well as an end to forced recruiting.

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KurdWatch, July 8, 2016—On June 29, 2016, Islamic State (IS) fighters attacked positions held by Democratic Syrian Forces, dominated by the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), south of the strategically important Tishrim Dam, sixty kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). According to the Democratic Forces, they were able to retaliate. No information was made available on possible victims.

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KurdWatch, July 8, 2016—On July 6, 2016, an unknown person set fire to the party office of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) in al‑Qamishli. The fire was set in the courtyard and did not spread to the indoor spaces. The damage was minimal. 

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KurdWatch, July 8, 2016—On July 5, 2016, a suicide attack killed twenty-three civilians in front of a bakery in as‑Salihiyah, a predominantly Kurdish neighborhood in al‑Hasakah. Several people were injured. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.  

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KurdWatch, July 7, 2016—On June 30, 2016, a landmine explosion killed two children in the village of al‑Humaira, three kilometers south of al‑Qamishli. On the same day, a man was also killed by a landmine exploision in the village of al‑Fallaha south of al‑Hasakah. It is believed that the mines were left there by Islamic State (IS) fighters in the last years as they retreated from the area.

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KurdWatch, July 5, 2016—On June 2, 2016 in Tall Tamr, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recruited young men against their will for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). The recruitment occurred in the city center and on the main roads leading to the city.

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KurdWatch, July 5, 2016—On June 29, 2016, Turkish border guards on the Turkish-Syrian border near the city of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) opened fire on several people trying to flee Syria into Turkey. Muslim ʿIzzuddin ʿUthman was killed by a shot to the head.The twenty-three-year-old suffered from the side effects of polio and couldn’t move without assistance.

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On December 19, 2015, the legislative council for the Jazirah Canton, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), passed a press law. The law professes to want to safeguard the freedom and independence of the press. However, in reality it limits these freedoms considerably. In democratic societies the press is in principle free. This means, anyone can operate a paper, magazine, radio and television station as well as online publications. Only then, if in the framework of reporting the prevailing law is violated, will independent courts take action. However, the PYD’s press law intends to make all forms of media be registered and all journalists must be accredited before taking up work. The criteria for a media license (also subject to charge) and the accreditation process for journalists remain unclear. In addition, there is a press council whose job it is to comprehensively monitor media reporting to detect violations of the law. The press council is, in such cases, authorized to impose fines and revoke publishing and broadcasting licenses, temporarily or permanently. The entire law can be characterized as showing a fundamental distrust of free press. Moreover it is clear, that the registration processes outlined and the fees introduced serve the goal of boosting PYD revenue. Consequently, the fines imposed on international media are significantly higher than those on local Syrian media.

[Download PDF]

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—Already on June 13, 2014, the legislative council for the Jazirah Canton, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), passed a law on compulsory military service [download law]. The law provides that every family offers a »volunteer« between the ages of eighteen and thirty to serve for six months in the People’s Defense Units (YPG). Kurds in Jazirah who do not fulfill this obligation will be forcibly recruited. Subsequently, forced military recruitment was also introduced in ʿAfrin and also now in the last of the PYD administered »cantons« ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). The document published here calls on people born between 1986 and 1998 until June 20, 2016 to make themselves known to their responsible recruitment centers. Otherwise there will be legal consequences. It is assumed, as was the case in Jazirah and in ʿAfrin, that the »regular« compulsory service will primarily concern male Kurds. However, among the minors recruited irregularly there are also numerous girls and young women [download interview with Nurman Ibrahim Khalifa]. Comprehensive military forced recruitment is interesting mainly because it is the first time that Kurdish groups does not rely on volunteer fighters. This might point to the fact that the PYD and its militia, the People’s Defense Units, does not hold widespread support among the Syrian-Kurdish population. Along these lines, the numbers [further information] show that more than fifty per cent of the YPG fighters are not from Syria bur rather from Turkey. [Download PDF]

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 27, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), abducted ʿAbdulkarim Muhammad in ʿAmudah in the middle of the street. The politburo member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) had recently participated in a demonstration to commemorate the victims of an attack of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) on protestors at a demonstration in 2013 [further information].

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 27, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in ʿAmudah held a demonstration to remember the victims of an attack carried out by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on June 27, 2013 at a demonstration [further information]. Around one thousand gathered in the city center and marched in the direction of ʿAmudah’s cemetery. At the cemetery, representatives of the Kurdish National Council as well as the victims’ families held speeches in which they demanded the clarification of fact and that the YPG attack be named as a crime. The event proceeded without incident.

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—In the night of June 24 to 25, 2016, the Turkish army fired ground‑to‑ground missiles at several positions of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) west of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Information on any victims on the side of the YPG fighters was not provided. 

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 12, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), abducted Rizgar Muhammad Saʿid, a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S), from his house in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). Thus far there is nothing known about why he was abducted.

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 22, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released ʿAbdulmuhsin Khalaf. Khalaf is a member of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). The Asayiş kidnapped him on May 28 in ʿAmudah along with two other members of the party [further information]. Both his fellow party members are still being detained by the Asayiş. Khalaf was accused of participating in an unauthorized demonstration.

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—On June 25, 2016, fighters of the Iaslamic State (IS) tried to advance in the direction of ash‑Shaddadi, fifty kilometers south of al‑Hasakah, an area controlled by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). YPG positions were attacked with heavy weaponry. At least two YPG fighters were killed near Khirbat al‑Malihah, roughly thirty kilometers southwest of ash‑Shaddadi. Any information on those injured was not available.

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KurdWatch, June 30, 2016—Ibrahim Biro, b. 1965, is the secretary of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî). Since July 1, 2015 he is also the chairman of the Kurdish National Council in Syria, an organization of eleven Syrian-Kurdish parties, the Yazidi council, various women’s and youth organizations, as well as independent individuals. Ibrahim Biro talks to KurdWatch about the difficult relationship to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Islamic State (IS) and the future of Syria’s Kurds.

[Read more] 

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KurdWatch, June 29, 2016—On June 16, 2016, Jasim Muhammad Bali was kidnapped at a checkpoint of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), close to the village of Khan Sari near al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). Thus far there is no information about why this member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) was abducted. Already one day earlier another member of the PDK‑S was abducted at the same checkpoint [further information].

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KurdWatch, June 29, 2016—On June 15, 2016, Mahmud Lawand was kidnapped at a checkpoint of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), close to the village of Khan Sari near al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik). Lawand is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S).

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KurdWatch, June 29, 2016—On June 24, 2016, the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) held a rally in front of their office in al‑Qamishli against the politics of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The roughly one hundred participants demanded among other things the release of all politicians and activists abducted by the PYD. Members of other parties of the Kurdish National Council also took part in the event.

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KurdWatch, June 27, 2016—On June 22, 2016, around two hundred supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) demonstrated in ʿAfrin. Those gathered protested against Islamic State’s (IS) attacks on Kurdish residents in the area controlled by the IS between Manbij and Aleppo. In addition, the protestors called on the international community to support the Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against the IS. The Syrian Democratic Forces are dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG).

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KurdWatch, June 27, 2016—On June 15, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Idris Yunus Haj Qasim (b. 1970, married, five children) at a checkpoint in ʿAmudah. Idris Yunus Haj Qasim is a member of the local committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S). Thus far there is no information about the background to his abduction.

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KurdWatch, June 27, 2016—On June 15, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped Ahmad ʿAbdulkarim (married, four children) in front of his house in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). ʿAbdulkarim is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S). Thus far there is no information about the background to his abduction.

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KurdWatch, June 27, 2016—On June 21, 2016, the radio station Arta FM in ʿAmudah stated that five people had been sentenced for the attack on the station in May 2016 [further information]. Three of the offenders received a sentence of three months and two others were subsequently released since they are minors. The administration appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) did not publish any information on the identity of the offenders or circumstances of their case. Arta FM also has no further information. The nine stolen computers and a telephone sets were returned to the station. 

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KurdWatch, June 25, 2016—On June 19, 2016, there was a suicide bomb attack near a checkpoint of the Sotoro milita, which has close ties to the regime, in a predominantly Christian street in the city center of al‑Qamishli. Five civilians were injured. Reports of any fighters killed on the side of the Sotoro militia could not be confirmed. 

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

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KurdWatch, June 22, 2016—On June 8, 2016, the regional government of Iraqi-Kurdistan reopened the border crossing at Faysh Khabur on the Iraqi-Syrian border. Hamid Darbandi, head of the checkpoint on the Iraqi side, told the Iraqi‑Kurdish television station Rûdaw that the co‑chairperson of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), Aldar Khalil, assured delegates from the Iraqi‑Kurdish Kurdistan Democratic Party on May 22, 2016 that he would resolve the problem with the Kurdish National Council in Syria once the border was reopened. The statement contained no further details.

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KurdWatch, June 21, 2016—On June 18, 2016, several rockets hit and exploded in the predominantly Kurdish Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud killing eight residents and injuring around twenty‑five. Armed units from the Syrian opposition had shot at positions of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and used rockets with no navigation system.

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KurdWatch, June 19, 2016—Between June 1 and 16, 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) expelled the Islamic State (IS) from dozens of villages around Manbij. On June 10, they were able to encircle the city and on June 16 their fighters were just one kilometer from the southern limits of the city.  

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KurdWatch, June 15, 2016—On May 31, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in Tall Tamr held a rally to commemorate Sheikh Muhammad Maʿshuq al‑Khaznawi, in which several dozen supporters of the National Council took part. The Syrian regime abducted and murdered Sheikh al‑Khaznawi in May 2005. He was considered a representative of liberal Islam who appealed to both Kurds and Arabs and promoted a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question [download report].

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KurdWatch, June 14, 2016—In the night of June 8 to 9, 2016, unknown persons broke into the office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party –  Syria (PDK‑S) in ʿAmudah. All technical devices, including two computers, were stolen. In a statement, the PDK‑S’s media office accused the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of being responsible for the break‑in.   

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KurdWatch, June 14, 2016—On June 10, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), abducted ʿAbdulmalik Hito (married, ten children) at a checkpoint in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). Hito is a member of the local committee of the al‑Qahtaniyah’s Kurdistan Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S). At this point, the background to the kidnapping is not known.  

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KurdWatch, June 10, 2016—On June 2, 2016, the defense committee of the Kobanî Canton’s administration, appointed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), published a decree in which all men born between 1986 and 1998 are called to report for duty for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). People who do not comply to this decree are to be legally prosecuted.

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KurdWatch, June 10, 2016—On June 1, 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), discontinued their offensive in the direction of ar‑Raqqah [further information] and started marching west of the Euphrates in the direction of Manbij, a city under Islamic State control. The Islamic State retreated without resistance to several villages around fifteen kilometers south of Manbij. As of June 7, the Syrian Democratic Forces had reached a position of ten kilometers outside the city. The attack is backed by US‑supported air strikes. 

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KurdWatch, June 8, 2016—On May 30, 2016, several people dragged Yunus Asʿad, who was close to his house in the village of Jauhariyah near ʿAmudah, into a car and abducted him. Asʿad is chairman of the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in ʿAmudah as well as a leading member of Narin Matini’s Kurdish Future Movement in Syria. He was badly beaten up at the edge of the village and left alone in a field with injuries on his arms and legs. In a statement, the Kurdish National Council blamed the Democratic Union Party (PYD) for the attack.

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KurdWatch, June 8, 2016—On June 3, 2016, several hundred residents of the city of Suluk, located twenty kilometers east of Tall Abyad, demonstrated against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). They demanded that the PYD allow all residents of the city to return. During the PYD seizure of the predominantly Arab region around Tall Abyad in the summer of 2015, many Arab residents were displaced [download report]. Members of the Asayiş, the PYD’s security service, shot in the air to break up the demonstration. In doing so, many of the demonstrators were injured. Moreover, the Asayiş abducted several demonstrators. The exact number of those injured and abducted is not known.

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KurdWatch, June 6, 2016—On June 3, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service, forcibly recruited Kawa ʿAbdurrahman Apo from his father’s house in ʿAfrin for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). His father, ʿAbdurrahman Apo, is a member of the central committee of the Kurdish Democratic Party – Syria (PDK‑S) and was kidnapped by the PYD on March 4, 2016. Since then the latter has been detained in one of the PYD’s jails [further information].

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KurdWatch, June 6, 2016—On June 4, 2016, Turkish border guards on the Syrian‑Turkish border close to Raju, twenty-five kilometers northwest of ʿAfrin, opened fire on several people who tried to flee from Syria into Turkey. Sixteen-year Jamil Qahraman was killed and two other refugees were injured.

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KurdWatch, June 4, 2016—On May 31, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in ʿAmudah organized another demonstration against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The participants demanded among other things the release of the politicians from the Kurdish Unity Party in Syria (Yekîtî) kidnapped on May 28 [further information]. The number of protestors was around five hundred, and thus significantly higher than the demonstration on May 25 [further information].

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KurdWatch, May 31, 2016—On May 25, 2016, the Islamic State (IS) carried out several suicide bombings at checkpoints controlled by the People Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) close to the city of ash‑Shaddadi, which is located fifty kilometers south of al‑Hasakah. At least four YPG fighters were killed and another twenty injured. The number of casualties on the IS side is not known. 

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KurdWatch, May 31, 2016—On May 24 and 25, 2016, the Asayiş, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service, forcibly recruited young men at random for the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) at several checkpoints in ʿAfrin as well as Raju, which is located twenty-five kilometers northwest of ʿAfrin and in Basuta, about eight kilometers south of the city. It is not known how many men were abducted.

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

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KurdWatch, May 31, 2016—On May 28, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security service, stormed the houses of several leading members of the Kurdish Unity Party in Syria (Yekîtî) in ʿAmudah and abducted the following politicians: Anwar Naso, a member of the politburo, ʿAbdulilah ʿUdsha, a member of the central committee as well as ʿAbdulmuhsin Khalaf and Ridwan Hammu. Hammu is the father of the commander of the Rojava-Peshmerga stationed in Iraqi-Kurdistan [further information]. The house of local committee member Marwan ʿIdi was also stormed but he wasn’t home so he evaded the kidnapping.  

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KurdWatch, May 31, 2016—On May 25, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in ʿAmudah organized a demonstration against the policies of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Around two hundred people carried posters that said »No to the abduction of minors«, »No to forcible recruitment«, »No to letting people starve« and »No to attacks on residential buildings «.

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KurdWatch, May 30, 2016—On May 26, 2016, the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), which is controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), organized a public assembly in the center of Bulbul, which is located roughly thirty kilometers north of ʿAfrin, to ask the population to publicly sentence two accused by a vote. Two older fathers were accused of insulting the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). The crowd voted for one of three possible sentences: a six‑month prison sentence, ideological education, or to be sent to the front. According to a statement by the Hawar (ANHA) news agency, which has close ties to the PYD, the town residents gathered voted for the third sentence. The men sentenced are supposed to be sent to the front to see for themselves the bravery of the YPG and the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ). Whether or not they will be expected to fight was not outlined in the statement.

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KurdWatch, May 30, 2016—On May 23, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), kidnapped the sixteen‑year‑old Zinar Majdal Qasim from his parents’ house in the village of Karanku, just a few kilometers southwest of ʿAmudah. No reason was given for the boy’s abduction. His relatives suspect that he was recruited to the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG), since on that same day numerous young men were forcibly recruited from villages in the ʿAmudah area, including Karanku, Gir Ziro, Gir Ziyarat, Tabaqa, Jawhara und Tall Habash.

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KurdWatch, May 30, 2016—On May 26, 2016, roughly one thousand supporters of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), which has close ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), demonstrated near al‑Qamishli on the Turkish-Syrian border. Those gathered were protesting against the attacks by the Turkish army on the Kurdish areas of the Turkish city of Nusaybin.

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KurdWatch, May 30, 2016—On May 21, 2016, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant on a street in the city center predominantly inhabited by Christians. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack and alleged to have killed thirty fighters from the Sotoro militia, which is close to the regime. However, only the death of three civilians has been verified, all Christians. 

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KurdWatch, May 27, 2016—On May 20, 2016, there was a series of explosions that lasted two hours in the city of ʿAfrin in a storage area for gas canisters. It is not known what caused the explosions. No deaths or injuries were reported.

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KurdWatch, May 27, 2016—On May 21, 2016, two suicide bombers and five employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), died at an Asayiş checkpoint close to the village of al‑ʿAliya near Tall Tamr. Until now the motives of the suicide bombers, who blew up their car at the checkpoint, are not known.

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KurdWatch, May 25, 2016—On March 25, 2016, cousins Samira ʿAbdu Shaikh Bozan (b. 2004) and Amal Mustafa Shaikh Bozan (b. 2003) were recruited for the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The six-graders are from the village of Bira Khat, forty kilometers southeast of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Their parents only found out two weeks later that their children had been recruited. When Samira’s father demanded her return saying that she was still a child and thus too young to carry a weapon, he was told that she’s old enough to make tea. Samira was allowed to temporarily return home on April 25 on account of illness. Thereafter, her father smuggled her into Turkey. When he returned to Syria on May 9, he was kidnapped by the YPG, who subsequently demanded the return of his underage daughter. »Additionally, the YPG threatened an uncle of Samira’s in Turkey over the phone. Her mother was also intimidated. They even asked her to positively depict her daughter’s recruitment to the media«, a relative told KurdWatch. Amal Mustafa Shaikh Bozan is still with the YPG.

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KurdWatch, May 23, 2016—On May 11, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), prevented Amira Tammu from exiting Syria at the Faish Khabur border crossing. Tammu is a leading member of the Kurdistan Women Union – Syria. She wanted to go to Iraqi‑Kurdistan with her four minor children. Whereas the children were allowed to cross the border, Tammu was detained by the Asayiş and abducted.

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KurdWatch, May 19, 2016—On May 7, 2016, around forty supporters of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, including a number of students, held a demonstration in front of their party office in al‑Hasakah. Those gathered protested against the attacks by the Syrian opposition on the mainly Kurdish residents of the Aleppo neighborhood of Shaikh Maqsud as well as the attacks by the Turkish government on the city of Nusaybin, located in the Kurdish area of Turkey.

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KurdWatch, May 19, 2016—On May 14, 2016, an explosion killed two fighters from the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as they attempted to tow away a YPG vehicle. A mine had probably been attached to the vehicle. 

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KurdWatch, May 19, 2016—On May 14, 2016, the Kurdish National Council in Syria held rallies in al‑Qamishli, ʿAmudah, Tall Tamr, al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), ad‑Darbasiyah and Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) on the one‑hundred‑year anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement from May 16, 1916. The treaty saw the division of the former lands of the Ottoman Empire, including areas inhabited by Kurds, between Great Britain and France. Employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), interrupted the rallies in al‑Maʿbada, al‑Qahtaniyah and ad‑Darbasiyah by racing past those gathered and beeping their car horns. In al‑Maʿbada, the Asayiş kidnapped Muhammad ʿAta Shaikhmus who was demonstrating. In al‑Jawadiyah young men were recruited to the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG).

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KurdWatch, May 19, 2016—On May 13, 2016 in al‑Qamishli representatives of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), met with representatives of the Kurdish National Alliance in Syria, [further information], the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, and the Syrian Democratic Forces, also dominated by the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). The participants spoke out in favor of a unified Kurdish delegation at the peace talks in Geneva. In addition, they made a plea to the Iraqi Kurds to put pressure on the government of Iraqi‑Kurdistan to open the border crossing at Faish Khabur.

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KurdWatch, May 18, 2016—On May 14, 2016, an explosion at a car wash in al‑Qamishli killed two people. Four others were injured. The cause of the explosion is not clear.

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KurdWatch, May 18, 2016—On May 13, 2016, fighters from the opposition's Battalion 13 fired a total of four rockets at the city of ʿAfrin. No one was injured. A few days earlier the group had demanded the extradition of the driver of the transporter used by the People’s Defense Units (YPD) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) to exhibit the corpses of Syrian opposition fighters on April 28, 2016 [further information].

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KurdWatch, May 17, 2016—On May 11, 2016, fighters from the Islamic State (IS) attacked Zawr Maghar, located around thirty kilometers west of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), which is controlled by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Information about dead or injured persons is not available.

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KurdWatch, May 14, 2016—On May 5, 2016, unknown persons stole the nameplate above the entrance to the local office of the Kurdish National Council in ad‑Darbasiyah.

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KurdWatch, May 14, 2016—On May 7, 2016, mass panic broke out in the city center of al‑Qamishli. Hundreds of civilians tried to leave the center and many shop owners closed their stores. The reasons were an explosion and an exchange of shots in the city of Nusaybin, Turkey, close to the Syrian border. People first thought these events were happening in the city center of al‑Qamishli and panicked. On April 20, a number of people were killed as a result of the skirmishes between the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the National Defense Army, which is loyal to the regime [further information].

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KurdWatch, May 14, 2016—In the early morning of May 9, 2016, a bomb exploded at the entrance of the office of the Kurdish National Council in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). There were only minor damages and there are no leads on the perpetrators.

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KurdWatch, May 14, 2016—On May 3, 2016, three fighters for the anti-terror unit (YAT) of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) were injured when their vehicle hit a land mine as they were driving on the city edge of al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). Further information is not available.

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KurdWatch, May 10, 2016—On April 28, 2016, Aldar Khalil, the co‑chairman of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), condemned the display of corpses in ʿAfrin [further information] on his Facebook page as »disgusting,« »contradictory to human values« and »dishonorable to the revolution and the [Kurdish] people«. KurdWatch has no information that those responsible have been made accountable or that the case was being investigated.

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KurdWatch, May 10, 2016—Between April 29 and May 1, 2016, Syrian opposition militias in Aʿzaz used ground-to-ground missiles to shoot at positions held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in Qatma, located around four kilometers west of Aʿzaz. At least six rockets hit residential homes; however, no civilians were hurt. There is no information about any victims on the side of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

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KurdWatch, May 6, 2016—On May 2, 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), have allowed residents of the small city of al‑Hawl, located forty kilometers east of al‑Hasakah, to return to their homes. The residents were forced to flee during a major offensive carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces in December, 2015 [further information]. According to the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the meanwhile the city had been been cleared of mines.

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KurdWatch, May 5, 2016—On May 1, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), issued a statement announcing that in the case of the arson attack on the radio station Arta FM in ʿAmudah [further information] several suspects had been arrested. That those arrested are guilty had been substantiated after they were questioned for the first time. More information about the numbers of those arrested, their identities, or their motives were not given. 

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KurdWatch, May 4, 2016—On April 28, 2016, a five‑month‑old baby and a fourteen‑year‑old girl were injured by stray bullets in al‑Qamishli near the Turkish border. The shots probably came from the city of Nusaybin on the other side of the border where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish army have been fighting for months. 

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KurdWatch, May 4, 2016—Late in the evening of April 26, 2016 in ʿAmudah, five masked and armed men kidnapped the deputy head of the independent radio station Arta FM, Muhammad Ramadan Hasan (known as Safqan Orkesh), as well as the driver of the station, Ahmad Rashik, in front of the Arta FM building. Orkesh reported in a press statement that the kidnappers took them to the cemetery in ʿAmudah and held a gun to their heads and threatened them with death if they continued working for the station. While they, the kidnappers, fought and made sacrifices, the employees of the radio station only »talked about senseless things«. Subsequently, the radio station was burned to the ground in front of the two kidnapped men after the computers were confiscated. Both employees of the station were then released. Sirwan Haji Barko, director of Arta FM, accused the armed forces of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) appointed administration of being responsible for the abduction and arson. He later revised his statement and said that the »good people« in the administration would ensure justice even if »the bad guys« ruined their reputation.

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KurdWatch, April 30, 2016—On April 30, 2016, five employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), were killed by a suicide bomber in al‑Qamishli. Four more Asayiş employees were injured. Until now, no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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KurdWatch, April 30, 2016—On April 28, 2016, the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) displayed roughly fifty corpses in ʿAfrin. The dead were transported through the city in an open vehicle. According to the YPG, they were dead Islamists killed in a battle. According to the opposition media office in Tall Rifʿat, twenty kilometers east of ʿAfrin, the dead were residents of that city, as well as fighters for the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Around three months ago, the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces captured the location from the Syrian opposition [further information], which the latter now tried to re-capture. Already on October 16, 2014, there was a similar case of the YPG desecrating corpses. At that time, it was fighters from the Islamic State (IS) [further information] .

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KurdWatch, April 30, 2016—On April 28, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), sealed the door of the party office of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî) in Tall Tamr. The issue is the split of the Nasruddin Ibrahim’s party of the same name. The measure was justified by saying the party did not have a permit issued by the PYD-appointed administration. Just a few days earlier in Tall Tamr the offices of two other parties were also closed using the same justification [further information].

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KurdWatch, April 30, 2016—On April 22, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), prohibited an injured civilian from travelling to Iraqi-Kurdistan for medical treatment. He was injured in the fights between the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) and a regime militia in al‑Qamishli [further information]. The regional government in Iraqi-Kurdistan had offered to treat the injured person. 

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KurdWatch, April 30, 2016—On April 28, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited at random young men at several checkpoints in al‑Qamishli for the People’s Defense Units of the PYD. According to eyewitnesses around fifty people are said to be recruited. Already on April 26, three men were recruited in Tall Tamr.

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KurdWatch, April 30, 2016—On April 26, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) held a rally in front of its own office. Around fifty participants protested against the attacks by supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) against members and institutions of the Kurdish National Council. During the night of April 24 to 25, unknown persons had set fire to the office of the National Council in al‑Maʿbada [further information].

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KurdWatch, April 30, 2016—During the night of April 24 to 25, 2016, two masked people set fire to the office of the Kurdish National Coucil in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). Neighbors were able to quickly put out the fire, which had been set with gas at the entrance to the office. 

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KurdWatch, April 28, 2016—On April 24, 2016 in ad‑Darbasiyah, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) displayed banners naming as traitors the representatives of the Kurdish National Council at the peace talks in Geneva, ʿAbdulhakim Bashar from the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDK‑S) and Fuʿad Aliko from the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), as well as the president of Iraqi‑Kurdistan Masʿud Barzani. Banners with the same message had been displayed at a demonstration in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) just days before [further informtion]. In addition unknown persons tore up a Kurdish flag in public. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its subsidiaries do not recognize the national flag selected by all other Kurdish parties.

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KurdWatch, April 28, 2016—On April 20, 2016, fighters for the National Defense Army, which is loyal to the regime, opened fire on a vehicle of the Asayiş in the city center of al‑Qamishli, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The city center is controlled by the regime and according to KurdWatch information the Asayiş car had ignored a defense army checkpoint. Two Asayiş employees died instantly and a third was seriously injured. The Asayiş and the People’s Defense Army (YPG) of the PYD subsequently attacked a security zone controlled by the regime, a large‑scale bakery in the city center and a prison east of the city. On April 21, the PYD took control of both the bakery and the prison. Both had been under control of the regime although they were in a PYD‑controlled area. In the prison more than fifty police officers gave themselves over to the PYD. According to a statement by the Kurdish National Council in Syria, both sides are said to have used heavy artillery inside the city. According to information given by the YPG, seventeen civilians, three members of the Asayiş and ten YPG fighters were killed. On the side of the regime, thirty‑one people are thought to have died.

Since April 22, the situation has improved. Muhammad al‑Faris, tribal leader of the Arabic Tai and local commander of the National Defense Army, said in an interview on April 23 with the Iraqi-Kurdish TV station Rûdaw, high‑ranking representatives of the regime are said to have met with representatives of the PYD at the al‑Qamishli airport and negotiated a ceasefire. Moreover, he called the YPG and the Defense Army »brothers in arms«, who will continue to fight together against the common enemy. The Syrian Army, according to al‑Faris, considers the YPG as an extension of itself. According to an explanation given by the Asayiş the ceasefire applies until there is a definitive solution to the problem.  

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KurdWatch, April 27, 2016—Early April 2016 the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) recruited the sixteen‑year‑old Alan Fayiz Daqori. He was from the village of Briva, located between ʿAmudah and al‑Qamishli. Several petitions made by the family to allow their son to return or to meet with him were turned down. The YPG justified this decision by saying that Daqori voluntarily joined the YPG. According to research carried out by the family, he is in a YPG boot camp near ad‑Darbasiyah.

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KurdWatch, April 27, 2016—On April 13, 2016, parliamentary elections were held in regime-controlled areas in Syria. In al‑Qamishli there were five polling stations in city districts under the control of the regime. A further polling station was in a Christian residential area controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). In the city of al‑Hasaka there were several polling stations in primarily Arab districts also controlled by the PYD. Yet on April 12 the PYD announced that it would not permit voting in areas under its control. All two hundred candidates of the governing Baʿth party were re‑elected. Another fifty delegates from other tickets, so‑called block parties, also were voted into parliament. 

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KurdWatch, April 25, 2016—On April 23, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), sealed the party offices of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) as well as the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Syria (PDK‑S) in Tall Tamr. The measures were justified by saying that the parties did not having a valid permit issued by the PYD‑appointed administration.

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KurdWatch, April 24, 2016—On April 20, 2016, several hundred supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) held a demonstration in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The participants carried banners naming as traitors the representatives of the Kurdish National Council at the peace talks in Geneva, ʿAbdulhakim Bashar from the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDK‑S) and Fuʿad Aliko from the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), as well as the president of Iraqi‑Kurdistan Masʿud Barzani. The demonstrators accused Bashar, Aliko and Barzani of cooperating with the Turkish government against the PYD‑appointed administration in the areas under its control. In al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), there was a similar demonstration on the same day with four hundred protestors. 

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KurdWatch, April 18, 2016—On April 11, 2016, four people attacked Roni Muhammad Bakji in al‑Malikiyah in the middle of the street and beat him up in a nearby alley. They subsequently handed the Yekîtî Media website employee of the Kurdish Unity Party in Syria (Yekîtî) a flyer that listed members of his party as traitors. Bakji had to be treated in the hospital. Yekîtî Media blamed the Democratic Union Party (PYD) for the attack.

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KurdWatch, April 18, 2016—On April 14, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forcibly recruited at random young men for the People’s Defense Units (YPG) at several check points in the city of al‑Qamishli. The exact number of the men recruited on this day is not known. Yet, according to eye-witnesses the total number is at least one hundred.

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KurdWatch, April 17, 2016—On April 7, 2016, Islam ʿAlloush, spokesman of the Jaysh al‑Islam (»Army of Islam«), one of the Syrian opposition’s largest armed militias, admitted to the use of prohibited weapons. He confirmed that a local commander of the militia deployed »weapons that are not allowed in such battles« against the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud. The commander was apparently transferred to the militia’s military court. Exactly what weapons were used is unclear. Rumors that it was poison gas, spread mainly by media with close ties to the PYD like Ronahî‑TV, could not be confirmed. In contrast to earlier cases, the PYD also did not publish a press release to condemn the use of poison gas. ʿAlloush himself said on April 8 in response to the rumors that it had to do with heavy artillery and not chemical weapons. The Kurdish National Council in Syria was among those wrongly condemning the use of poison gas in Sheikh Maqsud.

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KurdWatch, April 17, 2016—On April 3, 2016, members of Sheikh Ali’s Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) held a rally in front of their party office in ʿAfrin. Around one hundred participants demanded the unity of Syrian Kurds, the formation of a common negotiating delegation from the Kurdish National Council in Syria and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) at the peace talks in Geneva as well as the end to the siege on Sheikh Maqsud [further information]. In addition, one poster at the rally condemned the »attacks by the Turkish army on the Kurdish cities in North Kurdistan«.

Currently, the Kurdish National Council has two representatives as part of the opposition’s delegation in Geneva. The PYD, however, is not a part of the opposition and has not been invited to participate as an independent group.

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KurdWatch, April 16, 2016—On April 11, 2016, a bomb exploded in Kurnish, a neighborhood in al‑Qamishli. The blast brought down a power pole but no people were injured as a result. The following day in the city center another explosion injured six civilians. So far no organization has taken responsibility for the attacks.

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KurdWatch, April 16, 2016—On April 9, 2016, the Youth Union from Syrian Kurdistan once again organized a demonstration in al‑Qamishli. Around sixty participants demanded reconciliation between the Kurdish National Council in Syria and the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), controlled by the Kurdistan Workers's Party (PKK). There was already a similar demonstration on April 1. [further information].

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KurdWatch, April 13, 2016—On April 10, 2016, a group of young men in ad‑Darbasiyah apparently tried to break into the office of the Kurdish National Council in Syria. They stole a Kurdish flag, which was raised in the front of the office, and threw a Molotov cocktail at the office. On one external wall of the building »traitor« was smeared in color. Neighbors were successful in chasing away the culprits.

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KurdWatch, April 12, 2016—On April 1, 2016, the Youth Union of Syrian Kurdistan organized a demonstration in al‑Qamishli. Around fifty participants demanded reconciliation between the Kurdish National Council in Syria and the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), which is controlled by the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). Members of ʿAbdulhamid Haji Darwish’s Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria as well as Shaikh Ali’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) also participated in the demonstration.

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KurdWatch, April 11, 2016—On April 2, 2016, the Union of Intellectuals of Western Kurdistan, an organization with ties to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), organized a demonstration in al‑Qamishli to protest the attacks of the Turkish army against the city of Nusaybin. There have been ongoing clashes in the city over the past months between the Turkish army and fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The roughly fifty participants also condemned »the silence of the world press« on the attacks.

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KurdWatch, April 11, 2016—On April1, 2016, fighters from the Democratic Forces of Syria, dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), captured an oil field west of Markada, which is located around ninety kilometers south of al‑Hasakah, and expelled Islamic State (IS) fighters. With this victory, al‑Hasakah, the third largest Syrian province, is now completely controlled by the PYD and the Syrian regime. Furthermore, the YPG is now only seven kilometers from Deir ez‑Zawr, which is the second largest city controlled by the IS after ar‑Raqqah. However, the airport and an adjoining city neighborhood are held by regime troops.

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KurdWatch, April 8, 2016—On April 2, 2016, a bomb hidden in a bag exploded in a restaurant in ad‑Darbasiyah and injured ten guests. Until now, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

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KurdWatch, April 8, 2016—On April 5, 2016, there was heavy fighting in Shaikh Maqsud, a predominantly Kurdish neighborhood in Aleppo, between armed units of the Syrian opposition and the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The opposition fired at YPG positions with rockets. At least eighteen civilians were killed and another sixty were injured. Furthermore, seven YPG fighters were also killed. The number of victims on the side of the opposition is not known. 

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KurdWatch, April 5, 2016—On March 31 and April 1, 2016, several people were injured by rockets in al‑Qamishli, one of them severely. Moreover, three rockets hit and damaged residential buildings. The rockets were misguided projectiles from Nusaybin, where the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have repeatedly clashed over the last months.

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KurdWatch, April 5, 2016—On March 31, 2016, the external walls of the Kurdish National Council in Syria’s office in al‑Qamishli were defaced with slogans. Members of the Council were depicted as traitors and ʿAbdulhakim Bashar, delegation member of the Syrian opposition at the peace talks in Geneva, received death threats. On its website the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) accused the Rojava Youth Union, which has close ties to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), of being responsible for the act. According to KurdWatch information, similar slogans were found in other places in the city. 

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KurdWatch, March 31, 2016—On March 20 and 21, 2016, Kamiran HajʿAbdu’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî) held a party convention in al‑Qamishli. ʿAbdu was re-elected in absentia as party secretary. Already on the first day a group of party members around Hajar ʿAli decided to organize an alternative party convention during which Hajar ʿAli was elected the new secretary of the Democratic Yekîtî. The divide can be traced back exclusively to the position of secretary. The Kurdish National Council has not yet decided which of the parties it will recognize as a member party. The Democratic Yekîtî had already split in January 2015 [further information]; therefore, there are now three parties with the same name.

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KurdWatch, March 31, 2016—On March 24, 2016, around fifty members of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) demonstrated in al‑Hasakah against racist statements by Asʿad az‑Zuʿbi [further information]. The demonstration’s participants demanded the removal of the head of the delegation for the Syrian opposition at the peace negotiations in Geneva. On March 27, another hundred supporters of the Kurdish National Council demonstrated in al‑Hasakah for the same reason. 

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KurdWatch, March 31, 2016—On March 25, 2016, three residents were killed in their homes by rockets in Sheikh Maqsud and six others were injured. Armed units from the Syrian opposition shot at positions held by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the predominantly Kurdish neighborhood of Aleppo. The rocket that hit the house was not equipped with a steering system.

 

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KurdWatch, March 31, 2016—On March 29, 2016, there were clashes south of Aʿzaz between the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and armed units of the Syrian opposition. Information about potential victims is not available.  

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KurdWatch, March 31, 2016—On March 23, 2016, the agency for martyred families from the PYD‑appointed administration for the Jazirah canton »in the name of five hundred martyred families« filed charges against three representatives of the Kurdish National Council in a PYD court in al‑Qamishli. Ibrahim Biro, the chairman of the Kurdish National Council, as well as Fuʾad ʿAliko and ʿAbdulhakim Bashar, members of the negotiating delegation of the Syrian opposition at the peace talks in Geneva stand accused of being »mercenaries« acting against the »values of the martyrs« and against the »achievements of the Rojava revolution«. The court is asked to »prosecute these criminals according to the collection of sufficient evidence«.

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KurdWatch, March 30, 2016—On March 21, 2016, Turkish border soldiers attacked civilians with tear gas close to al‑Qamishli near the Syrian‑Turkish border on Syrian territory. They subsequently left the border area. The area between al‑Qamishli and the Turkish border is used frequently in the spring by people taking a stroll.

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KurdWatch, March 30, 2016—On March 23, 2016 traffic officers from the PYD‑appointed administration for the Jazirah canton displaced traffic officers from the Syrian regime from a major intersection in the city of al‑Qamishli and took control of the traffic. There were no violent clashes. The Syrian regime still administers large areas of al‑Qamishli and still pays all state employees in the areas controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KurdWatch, March 30, 2016—On March 25, 2016 the Kurdish National Council demanded in a statement the removal of Asʿad az‑Zuʿbi, the head of the negotiating delegation for the Syrian opposition at the peace talks in Geneva. The background was the republication of an interview az‑Zuʿbi had given a year before. In it he said that the weaknesses and destruction of the Arab nation started when the caliphs took power in the Arab world, whose mothers were of Kurdish or Turkmen heritage. Further, he estimated the Kurdish population of Syria as one per cent of the total population. At another point in the interview he was indignant that in the time of Hafiz al‑Assad the Kurds only wanted a paper to prove their personhood whereas today they had demands. They wanted to create their own states and separate regions and be like everyone else. He didn't reproach the USA for not standing up on the side of the Syrian people, unlike those »filthy countries« like Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon, since it is knew that the USA hated Arabs and Muslims.

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KurdWatch, March 30, 2016—On March 28, 2016, a woman from Jarabulus on her way to Turkey for medical treatment was killed by a bomb exploding in the middle of the street in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn. Another five people were injured, including relatives of the dead woman.

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KurdWatch, March 28, 2016—On March 21, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), forbid the newly organized, and close to the PYD, Kurdish national alliance [further information] from organizing Kurdish New Year festivities in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Among other things, Asayiş employees destroyed a provisional stage. The local committee of the Kurdish national alliance condemned the ban and indicated in a statement that an application for approval for the event had been submitted. The Asayiş initially had supported the festivities, but other Asayiş employees had spoken out against it.

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KurdWatch, March 27, 2016—On March 23, 2016, the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), released Masʿud ʿIsa Hamdi from prison in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The employee of the website Yekîtî Media of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) had been detained for seven days [further information]. The Asayiş had accused him of opening up an office of his party in his hometown of Khazna without a permit.  

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KurdWatch, March 27, 2016—On March 24, 2016 a group of young women organized a bike tour through ʿAmudah. The participants, who do not belong to any organization, protested against the ban on bicycles for women in some traditional Kurdish families.   

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KurdWatch, March 24, 2016—On March 2, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), abducted ʿAli Bakr Shaikh Muhammad and his cousin ʿArif Hasan Shaikh Muhammad, from their homes in Sinnara, a village around twenty-five kilometers west of ʿAfrin. No further information is available.

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KurdWatch, March 23, 2016—On March 16, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), abducted Masʿud ʿIsa Hamdi, employee of the website Yekîtî Media of the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî) from his house in Khazna, a village about twenty kilometers southeast of al‑Qamishli. Already on January 4, 2016, the Asayiş abducted and tortured a journalist at Yekîtî Media in ad‑Darbasiyah [further information].

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KurdWatch, March 23, 2016—On the fifth anniversary of the start of the revolution in Syria on March 15, 2011, the report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria was discussed in the UN Human Rights Council. The representative of Syria accused the reporting of distinguishing between »good and bad terrorists« and of ignoring past human rights violations by the armed opposition. The commission’s chairman, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, rejected the accusations and asked the Syrian government to at long last grant the members of the commission access to Syrian territory. The representatives of numerous states emphasized the necessity of a political solution to the conflict and welcomed the resumed peace talks mediated by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura the previous day.

Past human rights violations by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its militia, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), carried out in the predominantly Kurdish regions of Jazirah, ʿAfrin and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), are not mentioned in the report. Even the ongoing forced recruitment, including the recruitment of children, as well as the continuing persecution of people with links to the Kurdish National Council, finds no mention in the report. Mentioned is only the expulsion of the Arab residents in the region of Tall Abyad and in the south of the province al‑Hasakah as well as the YPG destruction of houses, also in the southern part of the al‑Hasakah province. Only the representative of Turkey in his statement pointed to the YPG’s arbitrary detention of civilians and the recruitment of child soldiers.  

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KurdWatch, March 22, 2016—On March 16, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stormed the office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDK‑‑S) in the village of Sihal, south of al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). All those present were forced to leave the office. The office was subsequently boarded up.  

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KurdWatch, March 22, 2016—On March 9, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), first broke open and then closed with a new lock the office of the Kurdish National Council in Siha al‑Kabira, ten kilometers southwest of al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). Shaykhmus ʿAbdulhamid, a member of the Kurdish National Council and owner of the building, was arrested and detained for several hours by the Asayiş. Already on December 29, 2015, the Asayiş prevented the opening of the office and abducted ʿAbdulhamid for one night [further information].

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KurdWatch, March 21, 2016—On March 17, 2016 representatives of the most important PYD‑affiliated organizations met in Rumaylan, located roughly two kilometers south of al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), to decide upon a federal administrative system for the area in northern Syria under PYD control. The representatives also elected a thirty-one-member council to govern the region. In addition to PYD representatives, delegates from the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), the People’s Defense Units (YPG), from the PYD‑appointed Democratic Autonomous Administration as well as from the Syrian Democratic Forces of Syria also attended the meeting. The PYD calls the new federal unit a »democratic, federal system for Rojava and northern Syria«. The region is allegetly not ethnically defined and offers according to the PYD the potential to include in future ar‑Raqqa and other Arab areas. Neither the internal structure of the new system nor the concrete relationship to the Syrian central state was described in any detail.

Members of the Kurdish National Council in Syria responded negatively to the unilateral proclamation of a federal system. Kamiran Hajo, head of the Kurdish National Council’s external committee, is quoted in a press statement of the Geneva office of the organization as saying: »Announcing federalism all of a sudden, lacking the urgently needed debate and democratic participation to possibly come to that decision, is just another form of dictatorship.« At the same time Hajo opposed the statement of Ramzy Ezzedine Ramzy, the UN’s deputy special envoy for Syria, in which federalism is implicitly equated with the collapse of Syria.

Since 2012 the Kurdish National Council has called for a federal system for Syrian‑Kurdistan, admittedly without having a concrete idea of what this should look like. Until now, however, the PYD has categorically rejected such an administrative system. The current initiative is probably linked to the Russian proposal to introduce a federal system in Syria. Representatives of the Kurdish National Council assume that the PYD is aiming to thwart its efforts inside the framework of the Geneva peace talks to campaign for a federal system. As Siamand Hajo, a member of the external committee of the Kurdish National Council, told KurdWatch »The PYD’s unilateral proclamation for a federal system lacks logic since federalism requires the approval of at least two sides, a central authority and federal political units. The PYD is also making any reasonable discussion on this topic with the Arab opposition all the more difficult than it already is«.

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KurdWatch, March 19, 2016—On March 7, 2016, five civilians were injured in an explosion in a predominately Christian neighborhood of al‑Qamishli. The explosive charge was hidden between garbage bags. There were several bomb attacks in the center of al‑Qamishli already in January 2016 [further information] and at the end of December 2015 [further information].

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KurdWatch, March 18, 2016—In June 2015, the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), with help from the US Air Force, was successful in capturing the city of Tall Abyad and the surrounding areas from the Islamic State (IS). In this context, the PYD and its People’s Defense Units were accused of carrying out grave human rights violations, including the charge of ethnic cleansing. This report addresses the question of how the PYD and the YPG operate in an area that differs significantly from regions such as Jazirah, ʿAfrin and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), all under PYD administration since 2012, in that it is primarily Arab. The newly captured areas around the city is only ten percent Kurdish. A further fifteen percent is Turkmen. What methods and instruments does the PYD use to govern this region? What does the human rights record in this area look like? Were there large-scale ethnically motivated expulsions from the region?  [download PDF]

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KurdWatch, March 18, 2016—Despite reports to the contrary, Syrian Kurds are participating in the peace talks that resumed in Geneva on March 14, 2016 on the Syrian conflict. Representatives of the Kurdish National Council in Syria are part of the negotiating delegation of the Syrian opposition. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) is not part of the discussions.

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KurdWatch, March 15, 2016—On March 8, 2016, around twenty‑five activists from the women’s organization Komela Şawîşka, which has a close affinity to the Kurdish National Council, carried out a demonstration in al‑Qamishli to mark International Women’s Day. The activists campaigned for women’s rights. One poster read: »The woman is the heart, the man is the head.«

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KurdWatch, March 15, 2016—On March 6, 2016, the local committee of the Kurdish National Council in ʿAmudah carried out a demonstration during which approximately one hundred participants called for federalism for Syria and for Syrian- Kurdistan.

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KurdWatch, March 14, 2016—On March 6, 2016, around one hundred supporters of the Syrian regime demonstrated in the city center of al‑Qamishli against the decision of the Golf Cooperation Council to classify Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The demonstration’s participants carried posters with pictures of Bashar al‑Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah.

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KurdWatch, March 11, 2016—On March 4, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), called on ʿAbdurrahman Apo at his house in ʿAfrin. They demanded that the member of the central committee of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDK‑S) accompany them to the station. Apo never returned home. The next day his relatives went to the Asayiş station and made enquires and were given no information about his whereabouts.

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KurdWatch, March 10, 2016—On March 3, 2016, the Democratic Forces of Syria, dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), began a new offensive. Islamic State (IS) fighters were reportedly expelled from the area between al‑Shaddadi, located fifty kilometers south of al‑Hasakah, and the city of Tall Abyad. According to the Democratic Forces own statements a defense belt is to be built around Jazirah and the city of Tall Abyad.

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KurdWatch, March 9, 2016—On March 1, 2016 fighters for the Islamic State (IS) tried to cross the Euphrates three kilometers south of Jarabulus in the direction of the east bank, which is controlled by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). According to the YPG, around ten IS fighters are said to have been killed. 

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KurdWatch, March 6, 2016—On February 29, 2016 employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recruited young men against their will from al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) and the surrounding villages to the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG). Eye-witnesses reported that Asayiş patrol cars randomly abducted potential recruits off the street.  

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KurdWatch, March 6, 2016—On February 25, 2016, media affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) published two decisions by the PYD-appointed administration for the canton of Kobanî, which ban the employees of the Iraqi-Kurdish TV station Rûdaw as well as the Syrian opposition station Orient News from working in the canton. Moreover, employees of the administration are forbidden to give interviews to either station. The justification for the decision was the attitude of the station towards the canton of Kobanî as well as supposed citizen complaints.

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KurdWatch, March 4, 2016—On February 21, 2016 in al‑Qamishli, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recruited young men against their will into the People’s Defense Units (YPG). Young men were also forcibly recruited in ʿAfrin and the surrounding area between February 20 and 24.

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KurdWatch, March 3, 2016—In the early morning of February 27, 2016 fighters for the Islamic State (IS) started an offensive in the direction of Tall Abyad. The IS was able to capture the city of Suluk, located twenty kilometers southeast of Tall Abyad, as well as the village of Hammam at‑Turkuman, a further eight kilometer south. Subsequently, the IS fighters advanced towards the eastern city districts of Tall Abyad. Fighters for the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) succeeded in pushing back the IS fighters out of Tall Abyad with the help of the US American air force. Sources close to the PYD spoke of one hundred dead IS fighters. Furthermore, there are reports that many civilians died during the battles.

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KurdWatch, February 29, 2016—On February 26, 2016, Ibrahim Biro, chairman of the Kurdish National Council in Syria opened an office in Geneva. The office is supported by the German Foreign Office and was opened specifically to coordinate the work by the Kurdish National Council during the upcoming peace talks. As long as the ceasefire agreement from last Friday between the Syrian regime and the many Syrian combat units is upheld, the already postponed peace talks are supposed to start on March 7, 2016.

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KurdWatch, February 29, 2016—Between February 16 and 24, 2016, armed units from the Syrian opposition fired at positions of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the predominantly Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsood in Aleppo. Numerous videos placed on YouTube by the Syrian opposition show how the neighborhood was fired at with self‑made rockets. Since the rockets had no steering system, many residential buildings were hit. According to the YPG twenty‑four civilians were killed and two hundred and fifty injured.

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KurdWatch, February 28, 2016—Between February 18 and 24, 2016, Islamic State (IS) fighters attacked positions held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), near Tishrin Dam, around forty kilometers southwest of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). According to statements given by the Syrian Democratic Forces, at least five of its fighters and numerous IS fighters were killed.  

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KurdWatch, February 28, 2016—On February 22, 2016, around four hundred supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party demonstrated in al‑Qamishli against attacks by the Turkish army on the city of ʿAfrin and on positions held by the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) [further information].

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KurdWatch, February 25, 2016—On February 18, 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) captured several villages around the strategically important city of ash‑Shaddadi, fifty kilometers south of al‑Hasakah from the Islamic State (IS). The following day the city was seized without any significant resistance. There are numerous oil and gas sources near ash‑Shaddadi as well as a large gas bottle factory in the city. Thus the city had been an important source of income for the IS. Already on February 16, the IS had withdrawn from many villages and a large power station east of Aleppo and left it to the Syrian regime.

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KurdWatch, February 25, 2016—On February 20, 2016, two thousand supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) took part in a demonstration at the Turkish‑Syrian border close to Qarmanluq, around twenty‑five kilometers west of ʿAfrin. Those gathered protested against attacks of the Turkish army on the city of ʿAfrin and on positions held by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the PYD [further information].

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KurdWatch, February 24, 2016—On February 19, 2016 the Turkish army fired ground-to-ground rockets at the city of ʿAfrin, injuring at least four people and damaging several houses. Reports on any dead civilians could not be verified. Positions held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) between ʿAfrin und Azʿaz were also fired at on February 19, 20, and 21, 2016. Until now, the YPG has not released any details on any dead or wounded.

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KurdWatch, February 23, 2016—On February 15 and 16, 2016, fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), continued their attacks on the areas of the Syrian opposition east of ʿAfrin. Tall Rifʿat, a city twenty kilometers east of ʿAfrin, and the village of Shaikh ʿIsa were captured. Reports that the YPG negotiated a take-over without a struggle in the city of Mariʿ, ten kilometers east of Tall Rifʿat could not be verified at this time. If this is the case, the YPG has advanced to the frontline to the border of areas controlled by the Islamic State (IS). This advance is one step further to linking the PYD‑controlled enclaves of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and ʿAfrin. Furthermore, the wedge has been increased that propelled the Syrian army’s offensive at the beginning of the month north of Aleppo between the opposition‑held territory around Aʿzaz and the opposition territory around Aleppo. 

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KurdWatch, February 23, 2016—At a conference in al–Qamishli on February 12 and 13, 2016, five Syrian Kurdish parties formed a new alliance. Sheikh Ali’s Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria (Democratic Yekîtî), Nasruddin Ibrahim’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Reconciliation (Rêkeftin), Salih Gedo’s Kurdistan Left Party in Syria as well as Amjad ʿUthman’s Kurdish Reform Movement in Syria merged to form the Kurdish National Alliance. Because of their links to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the first four parties had been excluded from the Kurdish National Council [further information]. In the case of Amjad ʿUthman’s party, there had been a split with Faisal Yusif’s Kurdish Reform Movement (formerly the Kurdish Progressive Party in Syria [Reform movement]), whose party is a member of the Kurdish National Council.


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KurdWatch, February 20, 2016—On February 14 and 15, 2016, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in al‑Qamishli, ʿAfrin, ʿAmudah, Tall Tamr, Raʾs al-ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) und ad‑Darbasiyah commemorated the 1999 arrest of the chairman of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, and demanded his release. In al‑Qamishli, PYD members forced storeowners, under threat of heavy fines, to close their doors. Also in 2015, PYD members had forced storeowners to close their businesses on the anniversary date of Öcalan’s arrest [further information].

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KurdWatch, February 20, 2016—On February 13, 2016, the Turkish army bombed positions of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which dominates the Syrian Democratic Forces, east of ʿAfrin, as they marched in the direction of the strategically important cities Aʿzaz and Tal Rafʿat. Before this, the Democratic Forces had captured several Arab villages [further information]. The Turkish army has confirmed the attack.

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KurdWatch, February 20, 2016—On February 9, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), recruited a number of young men against their will at several checkpoints in al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê). On February 11, there were forced recruitments in the city center of al Jawadiyah (Çil Axa). Exact numbers are not available.

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KurdWatch, February 17, 2016—On February 6, 2016, around twenty‑five Kurds were able to flee from an IS prison in al‑Bab, located fourty kilometers northeast of Aleppo. The prison was partially destroyed during an airstrike. 

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KurdWatch, February 16, 2016—On February 10, 2016, fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), initiated an attack on the areas controlled by the Syrian opposition east of ʿAfrin. More than ten villages between Aʿzaz and ʿAfrin were quickly captured. The strategically important military airport Minnigh, located fifteen kilometers east of ʿAfrin was also captured. Since the beginning of the Syrian Army’s offensive north of Aleppo, supported by Russian air raids, the Syrian opposition has been in retreat from this area.

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KurdWatch, February 15, 2016—On February 9, 2016, around one thousand supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in al‑Darbasiyah demonstrated against the policies of the Turkish government in the Kurdish areas of Turkey.

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KurdWatch, February 15, 2016—At the beginning of February 2016, the USA is said to have dropped ninety-five tons of weapons and munitions over an area controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. This information was announced on the Facebook site of the Syrian Democratic Forces on February 9, 2016. The exact time and place of the drop were not mentioned. The Syrian Democratic Forces is dominated by the People’s Defense Units of the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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KurdWatch, February 15, 2016—On January 30, 2016, employees of the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), informed the relatives of ʿImad Muhammad al‑Muwais that he has been dead almost a year. The Arab activist and jurist is from the village of Kuraifat, which is located around twenty kilometers northwest of al‑Yaʿrubiyah (Tel Koçer). He had been abducted from his house by Asayiş' employees eighteen months earlier. At the time, they also took his laptop. Four months after the kidnapping, his next of kin were allowed to visit him once in the PYD jail. Afterwards they received no further information concerning his whereabouts. On February 10, the family was given his remains. Under pressure from the Asayiş, he had to be buried that same night in his home village.

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KurdWatch, February 12, 2016—On February 4, 2016, around five thousand people protested in al‑Qamishli against the exclusion of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) from the peace negotiations in Geneva. At the same time roughly one thousand demonstrators gathered in ʿAmuda for the same reason. On February 5, a similar demonstration in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî) took place with around one thousand people demonstrating.  

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KurdWatch, February 12, 2016—On January 30, 2016, two explosives attached to bikes detonated in the village of Abu Raʾsayn (Girbawi), located fifteen kilometers southwest of al‑Qamishli. There were no casualties. Any further information is not available. 

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KurdWatch, February 9, 2016—On January 29, 2016, the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura announced the start of the peace talks in Geneva to end the civil war in Syria. Delegates from the Syrian regime travelled on the same day to Geneva. The High Negotiations Committee comprised of opposition groups formed in Riyadh arrived one day later. There are two delegates from the Kurdish National Council on the committee. In contrast, a delegation from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) left Geneva. Due to pressure placed by Turkey and the High Negotiations Committee, the PYD was not invited to participate in the talks. 

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KurdWatch, February 5, 2016—On January 26, 2016, the chairman of the Kurdish National Council »illegally« travelled from Syria to Iraqi‑Kurdistan after the Democratic Union Party (PYD) had denied him from leaving the country. Until recently members of the Kurdish National Council in Syria could cross the border into Iraqi‑Kurdistan at the Faysh Khabur border crossing controlled by the PYD without first getting permission by the PYD. They did however have to register at the border. This regulation was abolished.  Ibrahim Biro is on his way to the political talks in Europe. 

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KurdWatch, February 3, 2016—On January 27, 2016, the Syrian air force bombed the Aleppo neighborhood Sheikh Maqsud, which is controlled by the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). At least four civilians were killed and several more injured. Additionally, a number of houses were badly damaged in the attack. The background to the attack is unclear. According to statements of the YPG, their fighters killed two Syrian soldiers east of Sheikh Maqsud on January 29 in an act of retaliation.

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KurdWatch, February 3, 2016—On January 24, 2016, there were skirmishes in al‑Hasakah between the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the National Defense Army, loyal to the government. Fighters from the National Defense Army had attempted to capture the predominantly Arab quarter an‑Nashwa al‑Gharbiya. In August 2015, the YPG had driven out the Islamic Staat (IS) from the city [further information]. Since then it controls a number of Arab quarters, including an‑Nashwa al‑Gharbiya. The fighting lasted around two hours. There is no available information on any dead or injured.

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KurdWatch, February 2, 2016—On January 28, 2016, Islamic State (IS) fighters attacked positions of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) east of ʿAyn ʿIsa, a city thirty-five kilometers south of Tell Abyad (Girê Sipî). This was reported by the PYD-affiliated news agency Hawar (ANHA). Information about possible victims was not available.

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KurdWatch, February 2, 2016—According to the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), they killed two Islamic State (IS) fighters on January 15, 2016 south of the city of al‑Hasakah as the suicide bombers tried to detonate themselves close to a YPG checkpoint.

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KurdWatch, January 29, 2016—On January 21, 2016, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) summoned all storeowners in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) to close their businesses in order to protest against the Kurdish politics of the Turkish government in Turkey. Even those shop owners who do not sympathize with the PYD complied with the demand in fear of existentially threatening reprisals.

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KurdWatch, January 29, 2016—On January 24, 2016, a bomb attached to a parked bicycle detonated in the city center of al‑Qamishli. Three people were killed and five more were injured. The Islamist State (IS) is supposedly responsible for the attack. This was reported on the IS-affiliated Facebook site Aʿmaq. However, in a statement the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), held the regime-loyal National Defense Army responsible for this attack as well as for the attacks on December 30, 2015 [further information]. These accusations were not given any further explanations.

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KurdWatch, January 27, 2016—The independent Arab daily paper al‑Quds al‑ʿArabi reported that a meeting took place on January 16, 2016 between the Syrian interior minister, Muhammad Ibrahim ash‑Shaʿar, and delegates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM) as well as the People’s Defense Units (YPG) of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in al‑Qamishli. According to the newspaper report, the YPG press officer, Redur Khalil, as well as the co-chairperson of TEV‑DEM, Aldar Khalil, were present at the meeting. Allegedly, they discussed the security situation in al‑Hasakah province as well as a possible PYD representation in the upcoming negotiations between the regime and the opposition in Geneva. 

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KurdWatch, January 27, 2016—On January 15, 2016, members of the Kurdish National Council started collecting signatures for a petition to demand the treatment of the »Kurdish quesion« in the negotiations between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian regime in Geneva. The list is to be submitted to the general secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki‑moon. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) tried to prevent the collection of signatures. Several lists were stolen and at least twelve activists collecting signatures in ʿAfrin were detained for hours by the Asayiş, the PYD's security service. According to the Kurdish National Council, up to now 625,400 signatures have been collected.

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KurdWatch, January 26, 2016—On January 7, 2016, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), together with two other parties, announced that they had frozen their membership in the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change. The decision was based on the nationalist intolerance of executive committee members, the establishment of Union offices abroad without informing the PYD, the signing of a treaty with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, although the Coalition rejects the PYD's administration of the Kurdish regions, as well as the non-participation of the three parties at the opposition conference in Riyadh [further information]. In addition, and without mention of any specific details, the executive committee was accused of having accepted the listing of the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) as a terrorist organization.

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KurdWatch, January 25, 2016—On January 7, 2016, unknown persons broke into the office of the Kurdish Unity Party in Syria (Yekîtî) in al‑Qamishli and stole files, data storage devices and photos with which to identify party members. In contrast, electronic devices and other valuable objects were not taken.

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