Aleppo: Ongoing fighting in Shaikh Maqsud

KURDWATCH, April 19, 2013—Fighting in the Shaykh Maqsud district in Aleppo has been ongoing since March 29, 2013 [further information]. Government troops are routinely bombarding the district with missles. According to media reports, more than forty civilians have been killed thus far.

The battle lines are drawn between the regime on one side and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) People’s Defense Units (YPG), and the Kurdish Front Brigade on the other. Reportedly the Kurdish Front Brigade was originally initiated by the Supreme Kurdish Council—the common council of the Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council of West Kurdistan. In a founding video from January 2013, FSA and YPG flags are visible. In later videos, the PYDflags are missing. Moreover Kurdish Front Brigade has announced that it has completely crossed over to the FSA. According to its own statements, the YPG is currently preventing government troops from marching into Shaykh Maqsud, and is thus fighting on the side of the opposition in Aleppo.

AlYaʿrubiyah: Fourteen dead in air attack

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

Al-Qamishli: No protests due to fighting between the opposition and the regime

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

Al-Qamishli: Free Syrian Army launches offensive

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

ʿAfrin: ElPartî member murdered

KURDWATCH, April 17, 2013—On April 6, 2013, a member of ʿAbdulhakim Bashar’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (elPartî), ʿAli Sido ʿAbdo (b. 1978 in Raju, married, no children), was found dead near a highway near Raju. The body showed signs of torture, as well as bullet wounds to the head. ʿAbdo had been missing since April 4, 2013. Muhammad Salih Khalil, member of elPartî’s politburo, told KurdWatch: »The YPG repeatedly threatened ʿAbdo, but I cant say that the YPG murdered him. For such an accusation, one needs evidence. However, the YPG and PYD have already threatened and kidnapped members of our party repeatedly; several days ago, one of our party members was even murdered« [further information on the case].

Damascus: Government planning new provinces

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


Al-Qamishli: Funeral march for slain YPGfighters

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


Al-Qamishli: Supporters of the regime kill three YPGfighters

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

Aleppo: Civilians dead in fighting in Shaykh Maqsud

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

ʿAmudah: Yekîtî elects new Secretary General

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