Al-Maʿbada: YPG takes control of Syria’s largest oil field
KURDWATCH, March 10, 2013—On March 1, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) took control of several public buildings in Rumailan (two kilometers west of al‑Maʿbada [Girkê Legê]). On March 1 and 2, 2013, the YPG laid siege to the headquarters of the Political Security Directorate and the Military Intelligence Service, inside which dozens of members of the security services had barricaded themselves, as well as to a small military base. On March 2,, the besieged surrendered their position; no clashes occurred on any of the days. According to statements by the YPG, thirty-five people were initially taken captive, but were released after only a few hours. Rumailan is Syria’s largest oil field.
Al-Qahtaniyah: YPG takes control of the city without a fight
KURDWATCH, March 10, 2013—On March 1, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) as well as several supporters of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria surrounded a number of security headquarters and several public buildings in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). A few hours later all Syrian security forces and army personnel left the encircled buildings and the city. The YPG took control of, among other things, the headquarters of the State Security Service and the Military Intelligence Service, two police stations, the recruitment office, city hall, the headquarters of the ruling Baʿth party, and the cultural center.
ʿAyn al-ʿArab: YPG imposes agreement upon Ahrar al‑Kurd
KURDWATCH, March 9, 2013—On February 16, 2013, members of the Leadership Committee of the Kurdish Ahrar-al‑Kurd-Brigade from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) and the Military Committee of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) signed an agreement that provides for close cooperation between both groups. The agreement came about during the YPG’s abduction of the press spokesman for Ahrar al‑Kurd [further information on the case]. An activist close to Ahrar al‑Kurd told KurdWatch: »The leadership of Ahrar al‑Kurd was practically forced to sign the agreement. The fear that Kaban would otherwise be murdered was too great.« Ibrahim Mustafa alias Kaban himself told KurdWatch: »The content of the agreement is in itself good. But the circumstances under which the agreement came about were anything but pleasant.«
The following points were resolved in the agreement:
1. Ahrar al‑Kurd will abide by the decisions of the Supreme Kurdish Committee and act according to these
2. The forces of Ahrar al‑Kurd and the People’s Defense Units will be united.
3. Ahrar al‑Kurd will be represented in the leadership of the Military Committee of the People’s Defense Units and will act according to the decisions of the Supreme Kurdish Committee’s military leadership in the future.
4. All members of Ahrar al‑Kurd will take part in separate drills to gain military experience. Since the conclusion of the agreement, the Ahrar-al‑Kurd Brigade has frozen its relations to the Free Syrian Army, to which it had belonged until then.
Al-Qamishli: Kurdish National Council supporters remember Mustafa Barzani
KURDWATCH, March 8, 2013—Ongoing fighting between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government troops in the week from February 23 to March 1, 2013 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. The fighting was concentrated in the economic center of Aleppo, the capital of Damascus, and the area around Homs und Idlib. On February 22, demonstrators throughout the country took to the streets united under the slogan »One nation, one flag, one war« and continued to demand the fall of the regime. Supporters of the Kurdish National Council took to the streets under the slogan »Loyalty to Barzani«, thereby commemorating the birthday of the Iraqi-Kurdish Mullah Mustafa Barzani. As in recent weeks, they also demanded the recognition of the rights of the Kurds. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) gathered under the slogan »Al‑Qamishli is our dignity« and emphasized their willingness to defend the city of al-Qamishli against possible attacks by armed groups—intended here is the FSA. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq and Farhad Martyr youth groups), Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), and at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). Three separate demonstrations took place in ʿAmudah, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and various youth groups. In al‑Hasakah there were three demonstrations, one organized by the Kurdish National Council, one by the PYD, and one by Arab groups. Two demonstrations—one organized by the PYD, the other by the Kurdish National Council—took place in each of the cities of ad‑Darbasiyah, ʿAyn al-ʿArab (Kobanî), al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and al Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî). The Kurdish National Council’s weekly demonstrations in al‑Malikiyah and al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê) took place on Saturday, not on Friday. There were no protests in ʿAfrin or Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), nor in the primarily Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.
ʿAyn al-ʿArab: PYD security service kidnaps press spokesman for Ahrar al‑Kurd
KURDWATCH, March 8, 2013—On February 10, 2013, members of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) security forces (Asayiş) in Jalabiyah (fifty kilometers south of ʿAyn al‑ʿArab) kidnapped Ibrahim Mustafa (b. 1980 in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab, known as Kaban). Mustafa is the press spokesman for the Kurdish brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Ahrar al‑Kurd from ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). Mustafa told KurdWatch »I was driving with my wife and children in my car when we were stopped by a vehicle belonging to the PYD’s Asayiş. Several armed people held their weapons to my head and forced me to ride with them. I had to leave my wife and the children alone in a strange place. They treated me very badly during the arrest. It was a horrible experience for my children and my wife, but also for me. I thought they were going to kill me.« On February 20, Mustafa was released. According to his own statements, he was not tortured while in custody, but rather was treated relatively well. At the same time, he and the Ahrar-al‑Kurd-Brigade were accused of having made contacts with enemy organizations.
Aleppo: Heavy fighting for Kurdish villages
KURDWATCH, March 5, 2013—From February 9 to 11, as well as on February 23 and 24, 2013, there was heavy fighting between government troops and various units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) over the Kurdish villages Tall Hasil and Tall ʿAran. The fighting occurred a few kilometers southeast of the Aleppo international airport. At least three civilians, all members of the same family, died in their home in Tall Hasil when it was hit by a missile.
Al-Qamishli: Shots exchanged at airport
KURDWATCH, March 5, 2013—On February 23, 2013, shots were exchanged near the al-Qamishli airport. An activist reported to KurdWatch: »It was not a skirmish with the Free Syrian Army. We suspect, rather, that one of the soldiers forced to protect the airport wanted to desert.« Several kilometers of the main access road to the al~Qamishli airport have been blocked by government forces for months. Moreover, the government has called upon residents of the poor districts north and south of the airport to leave their homes.
Al-Jawadiyah: YPG takes control of the city without a fight
KURDWATCH, March 4, 2013—In the early morning of February 21, 2013, all Syrian security forces and army personnel left the city of al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa). A few hours later, the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) took control of all public buildings, including city hall, the post office, the cultural center, the registry office, and the office of the Baʿth party. At no point were there any clashes in connection with the withdrawal of state forces. Following the takeover of al‑Jawadiyah, several members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) were also in the city. It is unknown whether the FSA and the YPG cooperated.
Tall Hamis: FSA takes control of city in the Kurdish regions
KURDWATCH, March 4, 2013—From February 20 to 22, 2013, heavy combat was exchanged between government troops and various Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions in the town of Tall Hamis (forty kilometers south of al‑Qamishli). The Syrian army shelled the city and bombarded it with surface-to-surface missiles, many of which struck the surrounding Arab and Kurdish villages. Prior to its offensive, the FSA had called for residents to leave the city. No civilian casualties were reported. Dozens of soldiers were killed or taken prisoner. The FSA has had complete control of Tall Hamis since February 25 at the latest. The city is predominantly inhabited by Arabs; however, there are also numerous Kurdish villages in the surrounding area
Ash-Shaddada: FSA abducts oil industry employees
KURDWATCH, February 28, 2013—OnFebruary 10, 2013, several Free Syrian Army (FSA) units took control of large parts of the city of ash‑Shaddada (fifty kilometers south of al‑Hasakah). They stormed a housing development primarily inhabited by people who work at the oil field near ash‑Shaddada. The majority are ʿAlawis. Dozens of employees were kidnapped; information about their murder and burial in a mass grave could neither be confirmed nor disproven. On February 12, the Syrian army bombed FSA positions in ash‑Shaddada with surface-to-surface missiles. On February 12, shots were also exchanged between FSA and government troops in al‑Hasakah.