KURDWATCH NEWSLETTER WESTKURDISTAN – NOVEMBER 2012 Part II
ʿAfrin: PYD concludes an agreement with the Free Syrian Army
ʿAyn al-ʿArab: One dead in YPG PYD) ‑attack on demonstrators
KURDWATCH, November 16, 2012—On November 9, 2012, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) attacked the Friday demonstration organized by the Kurdish National Council, various youth groups, and the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria under Rezan Bahri Shaykmus. PYD supporters armed with knives and clubs blocked the path of the demonstrators, chanted slogans against the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and called on demonstrators to lay down the Syrian independence flag. Violence broke out between PYD‑supporters and demonstrators, at which point fighters for the People’s Defense Units (YPG) opened fire on the demonstrators.
In addition, the YPG attacked the party offices of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria and Mustafa Khidr Oso’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî). The demonstrators Walat Muhammad Salih Miho (b. 1995), Renas Husayn, Diyar Muhammad Ibrahim Hido, Fatima Dahar, Samar Dahar, and Mariam Dahar were injured. Miho, who was taken to Turkey for treatment, succumbed to his injuries there. PKK-affiliated media claimed that those in question were injured by shots fired from the Azadî office. On November 10, Miho, who was a member of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party and a member of the Kobanî coordinating group, was buried in ʿAyn al‑ʿArab; thousands of activists participated. The mourners demanded the fall of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and described them as government militias. The speech by a representative of the Free Syrian Army was interrupted multiple times by shows of support.
ʿAfrin: Fighting near Qastal Jindu
KURDWATCH, November 28, 2012—On October 28, 2012, armed conflicts broke out near the Yazidi village of Qastal Jindu near ʿAfrin. The conflicts occurred between units of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Storm of the North Brigade, led by ʿAmmar al‑Dadikhi alias Abu Ibrahim. Fighters for the Storm of the North Brigade conquered the PYD checkpoint and arrested two PYD supporters. Shortly thereafter fighters for the ʿAmr ibn al‑ʿAs unit led by Ahmad ʿUbaid forced the Storm of the North Brigade out of Qastal Jindu; the PYD returned to the village. The exact reasons for the conflicts between the PYD and the various FSA units are unclear, but it is certain that the conflicts were not, as the PYD claims, anti-Yazidi attacks by the FSA on Qastal Jindu.
Al-Qamishli: Separate demonstrations despite High Kurdish Committee’s call for unity
KURDWATCH, November 26, 2012—Nationwide protests on November 16, 2012 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. Through the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »Support for the National Alliance [of revolutionary and oppositional Syrian forces]« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. In light of the armed confrontations in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) [further information], all of the Kurdish parties demonstrated under the slogan »No to foreign armed groups«. Despite the High Kurdish Committee’s call for the organization of joint demonstrations, the Kurdish National Council and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) only held separate demonstrations this Friday. The PYD held the coalition made up of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), and Mustafa Jumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) responsible [further information on the coalition between the parties]. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq, and Farhad Martyrs youth groups), Kurnish (organized by supporters of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syrian under Rezan Bari Shaykhmus, the Sewa youth group, and other independent youth groups) and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). In ʿAmudah, three separate demonstrations took place, organized by the PYD, the Kurdish National Council, and by various youth groups. Three demonstrations also took place in al‑Hasakah. Two demonstrations, organized by the PYD and the Kurdish National Council, took place in each of the cities of al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), ad‑Darbasiyah, al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa), and ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî). There were no protests in al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), and ʿAfrin or in the mainly Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.
Raʾs al-ʿAyn: Dozens dead after Syrian Air Force attacks
KURDWATCH, November 24, 2012—On November 12, 13, and 14, 2012, Syrian Air Force planes, supported by ground-to-ground missiles, attacked Free Syrian Army (FSA) positions in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). In the process residential districts in which FSA fighters were entrenched were also bombed. As many residents had already fled the city shortly after the FSA’s invasion on November 8, 2012 [further information], the number of civilian deaths—at least twelve—remained relatively low. Turkish ambulances brought the injured to the nearby Turkish city of Ceylanpınar. There are no reliable figures on the number of dead among the ranks of the FSA.
Raʾs al-ʿAyn: Heavy fighting between PYD and FSA
KURDWATCH, November 23, 2012—On November 19, 2012, armed confrontations between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and units of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) took place in the eastern part of the city of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). An activist from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn told KurdWatch that prior to the fighting, FSA representatives demanded that all PYD flags between Raʾs al‑ʿAyn and al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik) be removed. FSA representatives explained that this was an order from the Turkish government, who supports them. The chief negotiator for the PYD wanted to discuss the matter first. The activist from Raʾs al‑ʿAyn further stated: »At first [on November 8,2012] approximately five hundred FSA fighters came from Turkey. Around a hundred stayed at the border; the remaining four hundred marched into the city. Later, around two hundred additional fighters came from ar‑Raqqah; they were joined by other people from the area. It isn’t really very many, but they are Islamists and they have come to die.« According to his estimates, the PYD has around one thousand armed fighters in the region.
Al-Qamishli: Yekîtî, Azadî, and el‑Partî form joint leadership committees
KURDWATCH, November 21, 2012—Between October 30, 2012 and November 17, 2012, the local branches of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (el‑Partî), the Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekîtî), and Mustafa Djumʿa’s Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria (Azadî) formed joint leadership committees in Ayn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî), the Aleppo region (including ʿAfrin), Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê), ad‑Darbasiyah, ar‑Raqqah, Tall Abyad (Girê Sipî), al‑Qamishli, al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), and ʿAmudah. »Our goal is to better coordinate and more efficiently structure our political work,« a Yekîtî member told KurdWatch. However, there are no plans to form a new party. The Kurdish National Council (KNC) also maintains such committees in a number of Kurdish cities.
Raʾs al-ʿAyn: PYD flies its flag next to FSA’s
KURDWATCH, November 18, 2012—Nationwide protests on November 9, 2012 resulted again in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators united under the slogan »It is time to march into Damascus« took to the streets to demand the fall of the regime. Supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) demonstrated under the slogan »Great resistance, worthy life«. In al‑Qamishli, one demonstration took place in each of the districts of al‑ʿAntariyah (organized by the Biratî, Rojava, Shaykh Maʿshuq, and Farhad Martyrs youth groups), Kurnish (organized by supporters of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria under Rezan Bari Shaykhmus, the Sewa youth group, and other independent youth groups), and Munir Habib (organized by the Kurdish National Council), as well as at the Qasimo mosque in the western district (organized by the PYD). In ʿAmudah, two separate demonstrations took place—one organized by the Kurdish National Council and various youth groups, and the other organized by the PYD. Two demonstrations, organized by the PYD and the Kurdish National Council, took place in each of the cities of al‑Qahtaniyah (Tirbesipî), ad‑Darbasiyah, and al‑Jawadiyah (Çil Axa). In ʿAyn al‑ʿArab (Kobanî) the PYD organized a demonstration; in addition, an activist died there when members of the PYD’s People’s Protection Units (YPG) opened fire on a demonstration organized by the Kurdish National Council, numerous youth groups, and the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria under Rezan Bari Shaikhmus [further information on the case]. After members of the Free Syrian Army conquered the city of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê) [further information], there were no demonstrations there this Friday. While PYD supporters in Ayn al‑ʿArab opened fire on demonstrators for carrying an FSA flag, in Raʾs al‑ʿAyn they raised their flag together with the FSA flag. Four demonstrations took place in al‑Hasakah. There were no protests in al‑Malikiyah (Dêrik), al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), and ʿAfrin, as well as in the Kurdish districts of Aleppo and Damascus.
Damascus: Medical student free again
KURDWATCH, November 17, 2012—The medical student Dara Nawaf ʿAbdullah (b. 1989 in al‑Qamishli), who was arrested on October 23, 2012 in Damascus [further information on the case], was released from the custody of the State Security Service on November 12, 2012. On the day of his arrest, ʿAbdullah was subjected to torture. Furthermore, while in custody he was put under pressure to stop publishing articles that are critical of the regime. No charges were raised.
ʿAfrin: PYD concludes an agreement with the Free Syrian Army
KURDWATCH, November 15, 2012—Following armed conflicts between the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) [further information] a meeting was held between representatives of the PYD and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) and representatives of the FSA, including members of the newly formed Kurdish Military Council in Aleppo and representatives of Islamic units. The meeting was brought to light by a video uploaded to YouTube on November 1, 2012; PYD-affiliated media released parts of the agreement concluded at the meeting on November 4. The following resolutions were read by an FSA member:
1. The signatories stand united for the Syrian revolution and against the Assad regime; the battle is being waged peacefully and militarily; the overthrow of the regime is the goal of every Syrian, whether Arab or Kurd.
2. The formation of a civilian and a military committee, as well as security committee, composed of members of the Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish parties [it remains unclear which specific parties are meant], in order to administer the Kurdish regions in Aleppo province and resolve the conflicts that have developed.
3. The immediate release of detainees from the prisons of all parties involved under the supervision of a committee composed of members of both parties and on the condition that those released are not criminals or collaborators with the regime.
4. The end of all campaigns of mutual accusations and the implementation of a positive discourse for the Syrian revolution.
5. The immediate end to the imposition of taxes; monitoring and penalization of these heinous acts.
6. The removal of all checkpoints that impede the operations of the Free Syrian Army or the establishment of joint checkpoints with the knowledge of the military committee and the security committee.
7. Respect for religious freedom and civil and political rights.
8. Support for activists and supporters of the Syrian revolution, Arabs, Kurds, and all other societal groups as well as deserters of the Assad regime.
9. The elimination of all tensions and clashes in the contested regions under the supervision of the joint military committee; the attainment of a quick solution which satisfies all sides.
10. The return of all confiscated weapons, ammunition, and vehicles to their owners.
Raʾs al-ʿAyn: Free Syrian Army takes control
KURDWATCH, November 14, 2012—In the early morning of November 8, 2012, units of the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Ghurabaʾ-al‑Sham battalion attacked Syrian Army positions in the city of Raʾs al‑ʿAyn (Serê Kaniyê). The FSA’s invasion occurred via the southern and western access roads. According to some sources, fighters also came across the Turkish border. The FSA conquered all positions and checkpoints belonging to the Syrian government, as well as the border crossing to Turkey and the headquarters of the Political Security Directorate and the Military Intelligence Service, where government security forces had barricaded themselves. Reliable information on the number of dead among the ranks of the FSA and the government are not available. Numerous civilians fled to Turkey and to the surrounding cities and towns. At least one civilian was killed; the person in question was Yazan al‑Khatib from Dair az‑Zaur. The Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), which take a critical stance towards the FSA, initially reacted cautiously. Reports of possible cooperation between the YPG and the FSA could not be confirmed. On November 9, 2012, the Democratic Society Movement of West Kurdistan (TEV‑DEM), an umbrella association of PKK-affiliated organizations in Syria, called on all armed groups to leave the city. Otherwise, according to the TEV‑DEM’s declaration, they would be treated as enemies. The Supreme Kurdish Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Kurdish Council and the People’s Council of West Kurdistan, also called for the withdrawal of armed groups. They based this demand on the need to protect the people from government counterattacks.