Tall Hamis/Tall Brak: PYD withdraws after major losses

KURDWATCH, January 11, 2014—On January 7, 2014, the General Leadership of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) gave a statement declaring an end to the offensive in Tall Hamis and Tall Brak. According to the statement, the goal of the offensive was not the capture and liberation of the two cities, but rather the weakening and deterrence of radical forces. According to several sources, several dozen YPG fighters were killed in the clashes.

The already relatively weak units of the National Defense Army (a regime militia) had already withdrawn from the hostilities a few days after the beginning of the operation. Moreover, the regime did not carry out air attacks as planned. It is presumed that this was in order to avoid large numbers of victims among the region’s Arab tribes, which are allies of the regime. An activist told KurdWatch: »We do not believe that the PYD fought in Tall Hamis and Tall Brak to weaken the Islamists. Tall Hamis and Tall Brak are predominantly Arab regions and not of interest to the PYD. The PYD typically fights against the Islamists if they challenge its claim to power in the Kurdish regions. They fought there because the regime summoned them.« Not only fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant fought against the YPG in Tall Hamis, but also units with close ties to Free Syrian Army, such as the Ahrar al‑Sham. In contrast, in cities like Aleppo, Idlib, and ar‑Raqqah, FSA-affiliated units fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

Al-Qamishli: PYD’s Asayiş lays claim to state-owned buildings

KURDWATCH, January 10, 2014—On January 1, 2014 the Asayiş, the security service of the Democratic Union Party  (PYD), in »Executive Decision No. 2« provided its branches with written instructions to call on the various political parties, especially the PYD, to turn over the state‑owned buildings under their control to the Asayiş. When the Syrian regime withdrew from the Kurdish regions in mid‑2012, the PYD as well as most of the parties of the Kurdish National Council took over state-owned buildings, which they have been using ever since.

Al-Qamishli: Asayiş interfere with aid organizations

KURDWATCH, January 10, 2014—On January 1, 2014, the General Leadership of the Asayiş in Western Kurdistan applied »Executive Decision No. 1« to order its checkpoints to stop the distribution of relief supplies if the responsible organizations do not have authorization from the Supreme Kurdish Committee. The Supreme Kurdish Committee, a coalition of the Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan, has been inactive for almost a year. The decision is being justified with the fact that numerous relief supplies have fallen into the hands of Islamist groups.

ʿAmudah: Asayiş signs amnesty decree

KURDWATCH, January 9, 2014—On December 31, 2013, the General Leadership of the Asayiş in Western Kurdistan signed an amnesty decree in ʿAmudah, according to which hundreds of people detained by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) are to be released. Christmas, New Year, and the Yazidi Îda Êzî‑Festival are allegedly the reasons for the decree. Ciwan Ibrahim, chairman of the Asayiş, told a PYD‑affiliated news agency that more than 300 prisoners were released. After the Erbil agreement with the Kurdish National Council, all PYD political prisoners were supposed to be released. Shortly after the conclusion of the agreement, however, several PYD politicians claimed that only criminals were held in the prisons of the Asayiş, not political prisoners.

Tall Hamis/Tall Brak: PYD and Syrian regime start joint offensive

KURDWATCH, January 7, 2014—On December 28,  2013, units of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), the National Defense Army (a regime militia), and the Syrian Army started a major military offensive against Islamist units near Tall Hamis (forty kilometers south of al‑Qamishli) and Tall Brak (thirty kilometers west of Tall Hamis). In the days that followed, they captured several villages around the aforementioned locations. Although Syrian state television broadcast video recordings of its soldiers on the aforementioned fronts, the YPG denies any cooperation with the regime. According to unconfirmed information, there are said to be dozens of casualties on both sides. The affected region is primarily inhabited by Arab tribes.

Raʾs al-ʿAyn: More fighting between YPG and Islamists

KURDWATCH, January 5, 2014—On December 23, 2013, clashes took place between Islamist units and units of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG) near Kharbat al‑Banat (twenty-five kilometers west of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn [Serê Kaniyê]). At least two YPG fighters were killed in the clashes. Further information on the number of casualties is not available.

Al-Qamishli: PYD‑functionary survives attack

KURDWATCH, January 2, 2014—On December 28, 2013, Khalid Tamo, assistant to the chairman of the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Committee, was injured when an explosive device placed underneath his car exploded in the district of Qudurbak in al‑Qamishli. The reasons behind the attack are unknown.

ʿAfrin: Injuries in car bombing

KURDWATCH, January 2, 2014—On December 25, 2013, about a dozen people were injured when a car bomb exploded at the ʿAfrin bus station. The reasons behind the explosion are unknown.

Erbil: Talks between People’s Council of Western Kurdistan and Kurdish National Council concluded

KURDWATCH, January 1, 2014—On December 24, 2013, representatives of the Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan concluded their seven day talks without finding concrete solutions for most pending problems. They agreed upon a partial opening of the Faysh Khabur border crossing, the release of all political prisoners by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and the formation of an eleven-member committee of jurists to investigate, among other things, the incidents in ʿAmudah [further information]. Furthermore, it was agreed that all parties should be guaranteed the right to free activity. It remained unclear how these demands will be implemented, given the fact that the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan has thus far failed to observe any of the agreements made in Erbil [further information]. According to Mustafa Jumʿa, secretary of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî), the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan was seeking, for one, the unconditional recognition of its transitional administration by the Kurdish National Council and additionally the reactivation of the Supreme Kurdish Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council, and the participation of the committee’s representatives in the upcoming peace conference in Geneva. In reality, all that was agreed upon was the following formulation: »If the entire Syrian opposition is to be at odds while participating in Geneva, then both of the Kurdish councils also have the right to participate. If a united opposition alliance should negotiate with the regime, however, the PYD must join the opposition. If it either cannot or will not do this, the Kurdish National Council may also speak on behalf of the People’s Council in Geneva.« Ultimately, the People’s Council in Western Kurdistan was able to prevail in Erbil insofar as the Kurdish National Council fundamentally supports its participation in Geneva. Otherwise, the Faysh Khabur border crossing has not yet been reopened, nor have political prisoners been released. An activist stated to KurdWatch: »The PYD will claim that there are no political prisoners, rather just criminals in custody. Or it will release the people only to arrest them again the next day. There is no relying on the PYD«.

Al-Qamishli: Regime militia joins PYD

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