Rojava Weekly News Briefing 12-18th June.

News

1. Erdogan fears the mercenaries defeat north Syria.

2. Refugees’ suffering continue in Robar camp.

3. Turkish border guards shoot civilians on border with Syria, two killed.

4. Arab-Kurd forces cut main IS Syria-Turkey supply route.

5. Hundreds of refugees head for the liberated areas.

6. Russia shows support to Kurdish-led SDF north Syria.

7. The Exterior Body consoles the American people.

8. ISIS jihadis abduct dozens of Kurdish civilians in Syria’s Aleppo.

9. 38 mercenaries are killed, arms and ammunitions seized.

10. Muslim: residents of freed areas will decide their form of rule.

11. Syrian Kurds erect monument in memory of foreign fighters fallen in war against ISIS.

12. Kurdish-led SDF enter Manbij, liberate western side.

13. Turkmens disclaim AKP allegations.

14. McGurk: Manbij is a network and planning center for IS.

Comment, Opinion and Analysis

15. Why the Islamic State is in retreat.

16. Will Putin Snub Erdogan’s Olive Branch? 3

News

1. Erdogan fears the mercenaries defeat north Syria.

Hawar News Agency, 12/06/2016

NEWS DESK– the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a dangerous project is being implemented north of Syria by parties which claim befriending Turkey.

Erdogan criticized parties (he did not name) for supporting the Democratic Union Party.

An official in the French Defense Ministry reassured his country and Washington’s support to Syria Democratic Forces.

http://en.hawarnews.com/erdogan-fears-the-mercenaries-defeat-north-syria/

2. Refugees’ suffering continue in Robar camp.

Hawar News Agency, 12/06/2016

NEWS DESK– Robar camp is inhabited by more than 5,000 refugees who were displaced from Şehba areas due to the ongoing clashes between IS and the National Coalition mercenaries.

ANHA correspondent took photos of the refugees in the camp reporting some aspects of life refugees and children experience after they escaped impending massacres, while lack of possibilities and help amid global organizations’ neglect continue, in addition to the siege imposed by the mercenaries and the Turkish state on Efrîn Canton.

More than 19,237 refugees have reached Efrîn escaping Şehba areas since May 25, and more than 5,000 are taking refuge in Robar camp in Basilê village in Şêrewa district in Efrîn Canton.

http://en.hawarnews.com/refugees-suffering-continue-in-robar-camp/

3. Turkish border guards shoot civilians on border with Syria, two killed.

ARA News, 13/06/2016

QAMISHLO – Turkey’s border police on Sunday opened fire on a number of Syrian civilians who were trying to cross the border illegally, escaping the ongoing war in Syria, local sources reported.

At least two young men were killed and two more wounded when the Turkish border guards opened fire on them on the border with Syria’s Kurdish region, in a bid to prevent them from crossing the border into Turkey.

Ahmed Ali, 23, and Adil Abdullah, 25, were reported dead by Turkish gun fire near the border town of Derbassiya in northeastern Syria.

The Kurdish Asayish police issued a statement, obtained by ARA News, saying the victims were trying to flee the mounting violence in Syria when the Turkish border guards shot them.

Turkey has closed all its border gates with Syria’s Kurdish region of Rojava, which forced civilians to seek alternative routes in order to cross the border looking for a safe haven. Dozens have been killed by the Turkish border guards over the past two years, mostly Syrian Kurds. 4

4. Arab-Kurd forces cut main IS Syria-Turkey supply route.

Your Middle East, 13/06/2016

Arab-Kurdish fighters backed by the United States on Friday cut the Islamic State group’s main supply route between Syria and Turkey in a major setback for the jihadists.

IS has come under growing pressure on various fronts in Syria and Iraq, where it established its self-declared “caliphate” in 2014.

The extremists lost control Friday of a vital supply artery when Arab-Kurdish forces completely surrounded a key jihadist-held town.

“The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) cut off the last road from Manbij to the Turkish border,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

Manbij lies at the heart of the last stretch of territory along Turkey’s border still under IS control, and was a key point on the jihadists’ supply line from Turkey.

Other secondary roads to the frontier are more dangerous and difficult to access, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The US envoy to the anti-IS coalition backing the SDF, Brett McGurk, confirmed the road had been severed.

“ISIL terrorists now completely surrounded with no way out,” he wrote on Twitter, using another acronym for IS.

“Manbij is where we believe the Paris attackers, the Brussels attackers, they all kind of pulsed through this area,” McGurk said, “from Raqa up to Manbij and then out to the capitals where they had organised their attack.”

This week the SDF, backed by coalition air strikes, cut the road north out of Manbij to the IS-held border town of Jarabulus, which the jihadists had used as a transit point for fighters, money and weapons.

The SDF also blocked the road south out of Manbij heading to IS’s de facto capital of Raqa.

“For the jihadists to reach the Turkish border from Raqa, they now have to take a route that is more dangerous because of regime troops nearby and Russian air strikes,” Abdel Rahman said.

http://www.yourmiddleeast.com/news/arabkurd-forces-cut-main-is-syriaturkey-supply-route_41291

5. Hundreds of refugees head for the liberated areas.

Hawar News Agency, 13/06/2016

MINBIC – hundreds of families were displaced from areas held by IS in Hemdûn village which is witnessing violent clashes to safer areas held by forces of the Military Council of Minbic in Kebirce el Sexîre after the mercenaries besieged them for days to use them as human shields.

Hundreds of refugees from Hemdûn village arrived to villages held by Minbic Forces, which guaranteed people’s movement to safer areas despite the firing on IS mercenaries’ side and two were wounded and transferred to the field hospital.

The refugees expressed their relief at their safe escape towards areas under Minbic Forces’ control, despite IS calls not to take refuge in villages held by “atheists” according to them.

One of the refugees who preferred not revealing her identity due to the presence of her relatives within the city said that the mercenaries took their houses and turned them to 5

military headquarters, and threatened to kill them if they get out of their houses, in order to use civilians as human shields to handicap the progress of Minbic Forces towards the city.

Muhamad Haj Hussein thanked forces of the Military Council of Minbic to launch this campaign” we thank Minbic Forces for their sacrifices to save us and liberate our villages after we spent days under the mercy of the mercenaries” and added that they were threatened of killing in case they take refuge in areas held by the Military Council of Minbic, and were asked to go towards the center of the city.

6. Russia shows support to Kurdish-led SDF north Syria.

ARA News, 14/06/2016

KOBANE – The Russian government seem to support a recent offensive of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to retake Manbij city from ISIS, and to stop ISIS fighters from organizing attacks on European territory.

“Kurdish militias from the Syrian Democratic Forces, active in the north with the aid of the US-led coalition’s air force, have also declared the start of a campaign to liberate Raqqa. Importantly, Kurdish militias have ousted ISIS from several towns along the Euphrates and approached Manbij in the northeast of the Aleppo province,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

The Russian government also accused Syrian rebel groups of killing over 40 civilians in the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo with support from Turkey. “The attacks involve up to 2,000 jihadi fighters. According to media reports, they are under Turkish military instructors’ command,” she told a press conference earlier on Friday.

Speaking to ARA News, SDF spokesman Sharvan Darwish accused the Turkey-backed rebels of trying to take revenge against the SDF-project, after several failures to defeat the SDF forces in the Kurdish district of Afrin.

“As a result 1,000 civilians were killed and injured by missiles, and they [pro-Turkey rebels] bomb civilians with gas canisters,” he said.

“Sheikh Maqsoud is a Kurdish neighbourhood, but Arab IDPs live there, fled from other areas, who are now being bombed by these groups. The neighbourhood is attacked by two sides: the Syrian regime and FSA rebels,” he told ARA News.

Recently, heavy clashes broke out between SDF-forces and Syrian opposition rebels near Sheikh Issa in the Aleppo province.

http://aranews.net/2016/06/russia-shows-support-kurdish-led-sdf-north-syria/

7. The Exterior Body consoles the American people.

Hawar News Agency, 13/06/2016

NEWS DESK – the Exterior Body in Cizîre Canton sent a consolation letter to the American State Department mourning the victims of the terrorist attack that targeted a nightclub in Florida state.

The letter said” we received sorrowfully the news of this coward terrorist act which targeted a nightclub and left dozens of innocent civilians killed and wounded”. 6

We in the name of the Democratic Autonomous Administration in Rojava-Syria offer our deep, sincere consolation to you, the American people and families of the victims, and hope soon recovery of the wounded.

http://en.hawarnews.com/the-exterior-body-consoles-the-american-people/

8. ISIS jihadis abduct dozens of Kurdish civilians in Syria’s Aleppo.

ARA News Agency, 14/06/2016

ALEPPO – Extremists of the Islamic State group (ISIS) on Tuesday kidnapped dozens of civilians after breaking into a number of Kurdish villages near al-Bab city in the northern countryside of Aleppo, northern Syria, activists and eyewitnesses reported.

ISIS militants stormed the villages of Shawa, Qaarkalbin, Tel Jarja, Sosinbat, Numan and Qabasin, and abducted more than 210 Kurdish civilians.

Eyewitnesses in the targeted villages near al-Bab told ARA News that ISIS members selected the houses inhabited by Kurdish families before breaking into them.

“They drove young people out of their homes, including men and women, and they moved them away by large trucks. We don’t know where they’ve been taken,” an eyewitness in Tel Jarja told ARA News, speaking on condition of anonymity. “ISIS fighters left behind the elderly and children, they only took the young and healthy boys and girls.”

“Most of the kidnapped were young men and some of them were women. We are concerned about their destiny, as the group may use them as human shields in its battles with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces,” Kurdish lawyer Omran Mansour told ARA News in Aleppo.

The Islamic State militants have been involved in heavy fighting with the SDF forces in the northern countryside of Aleppo for over a year, and most recently in Manbij, where the Kurdish-led SDF has repeatedly raised concerns about civilians used by ISIS as human shields during the battles. The SDF has recaptured over 105 villages and farms in the vicinity of Manbij in a two-week-operation, while ISIS remains stranded inside the city.

“ISIS extremists are now carrying out a revenge campaign against Kurds and other communities in northern Aleppo, accusing them of supporting the SDF,” Mansour said.

The Kurdish lawyer added that the kidnapped young men could be forced into the fighting against the SDF, while the women might be taken as sex slaves.

“We have seen this scenario before, especially with the Yezidi community at the hands of ISIS jihadis, and we would apparently see this over and over again as long as those terrorists exist in this region,” Mansour told ARA News.

http://aranews.net/2016/06/isis-jihadis-kidnap-dozens-kurdish-civilians-syrias-aleppo/

9. 38 mercenaries are killed, arms and ammunitions seized.

Hawar News Agency, 15/06/2016

MINBIC– a huge number of mercenaries were killed by Minbic fighters during the campaign to free Hamduniya and Qanat Ghira yesterday in addition to seizing a huge amount of arms and ammunitions.

Minbic fighters in the 14th day of the “Martyr Commander Faisal Abu Laila” campaign freed villages of Hudhud, Hamduniya and Qanat Ghira. 7

In Hamduniya and Qanat Ghira 21 mercenaries were killed, 10 Kalashnikovs, 37 military bags, 900 Kalashnikov bullets, and 12 grenades.

17 mercenaries were killed in Hudhud village, aircrafts of the Global Coalition carried out 7 air raids.

Fighters of the Military Council of Minbic seized 10 Kalashnikovs, 6 military bags, 3,000 bullets, 3 BKSs, 2 B7s, in addition to bombs and suicide vests, 17 grenades, a wireless device.

One of the mercenaries launched a suicide attack without reports of any damage.

http://en.hawarnews.com/38-mercenaries-are-killed-arms-and-ammunitions-seized/

10. Muslim: residents of freed areas will decide their form of rule.

Hawar News Agency, 16/06/2016

NEWS DESK– the co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party Salih Muslim declared that residents of the freed areas are to decide the form of rule, noting that the Federal Project is open to all parties wishing to join. These declarations came in a prolonged interview the Iraqi New Morning Newspaper conducted today.

The interview was titled” the chairman of the Democratic Union Party: Baghdad is the sole strategic resort to Kurds” and touched upon the achievements of Kurds in Rojava Revolution, the developing diplomatic and military relations Kurds established with world powers countering terrorism, and the proposed Federal Project in Rojava-Syria.

About dealing with the freed areas in Minbic in the future Muslim added” we have a certain philosophy that motivates us; peoples can co-exist and we reject the principles of the national state which eliminates their will and led to massacres, killings, annihilations and Anfals and proved the invalidity of the national state founded since the beginning of the 20th century.

Our aim is to implement this philosophy through democratic self-administrations ruling the areas without discrimination and permitting different components govern themselves.

“We are not imposing any forms of rule, if the freed areas are willing to join the Federation, they are welcome, for instance, the Syriac language is taught at schools, and we have also received many calls from other areas to implement self-administrations experience there exceeding the common notion of ruler and subjects.

Salih Muslim called upon the Democratic Kurdistani Party to join the signed agreement between Change Movement and the National Union, emphasizing that this approach should be the beginning to unite the Kurds and hold an inclusive national Kurdish conference.

Muslim considered that proposing a referendum about setting up a Kurdish state by the Democratic Kurdistani Party is welcomed and appreciated, they however believe that the age of the national state is gone” we do not approve of setting up a national state, be it Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish since we are living in the age of the democratic nation which embraces all components in their diverse nature, culture, and characteristics, and where co-existence prevails”.

http://en.hawarnews.com/muslim-residents-of-freed-areas-will-decide-their-form-of-rule/ 8

11. Syrian Kurds erect monument in memory of foreign fighters fallen in war against ISIS.

ARA News Agency, 17/06/2016

QAMISHLO – This week a monument was finalized in Syria’s northeastern Kurdish city of Qamishl0 [Qamishli] to commemorate foreign fighters who have been killed in the war against ISIS.

The monument includes the names of foreign fighters Gunter Helsten from Germany, the former Royal Marine Konstandinos Erik Scurfield from the UK, and Reece Harding from Australia, who all died fighting against the extremist Islamic State group. It also includes the names of fighters from Turkey that fought with the Kurds against ISIS.

Speaking to ARA News, Chris Scurfield, the father of Erik Scurfield, said that the monument was supposed to be finished in March, but he is happy that it is finally ready.

The local self-administration in in Jazira canton of Rojava announced last year that they would build a monument for the foreign fighters who gave up their lives to fight ISIS.

“It is fantastic, a beautiful tribute to all foreign heals [fellow fighters] alive and shehids [martyrs],” Mr Scurfield said. “We would also like to thank the Rojavaian people for their love and respect for our son, it has been a great comfort,” he said.

Syrian Kurds are very appreciative of the foreign fighters that joined the People’s Protection Units (YPG). “They are brave people,” a YPG fighter who served with foreign fighters told ARA News. “They were coming to help us, and when they help it’s enough,” he said.

Bave Shehid Mazlum (51), the father of a killed YPG fighter, told ARA News that foreign volunteers joining the YPG are not foreigners. “We call them our brothers who fight for humanity,” he said. “They are sons of this soil and I offer my condolence to these martyrs.”

He even said that foreign fighters that sacrifice their lives are more important than his own son that died.

“My son protected his own region, but foreign fighters protected humanity,” he added.

http://aranews.net/2016/06/syrian-kurds-erect-monument-memory-foreign-fighters-fallen-war-isis/

12. Kurdish-led SDF enter Manbij, liberate western side.

Kurdistan24 Net, 17/06/2016

MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan24) – On Friday evening, Manbij Military Council fighters and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entered the northern Syrian town of Manbij from the western side.

A Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the SDF operation on the west side of Manbij reported that the forces reached the Kitab Square, the first square of the town on the Aleppo-Manbij road.

The SDF and Manbij Military Council brigades surrounded Manbij last week, but they could not storm the town because they were worried about the stranded civilians.

On early Friday morning, heavy clashes erupted on the west side of the town under air cover provided by the US-led coalition.

Kurdistan24 photographers embedded with SDF forces on both sides of Manbij captured several raids on the Manbij silos on the east side and the Kitab Square on the west. 9

Regarding the casualties, no verified toll has been reported so far because SDF commanders and fighters are not allowed to give information to the media for security and military purposes.

However, Syrian-based Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported on Friday that 26 Islamic State (IS) insurgents were killed in the clashes on the west entrance of Manbij.

The ANHA report added that the US-led coalition air crafts shelled seven IS bases on the east and west entrances of the city.

Regarding the situation inside Manbij, a civilian activist who spoke to Kurdistan24 on condition of anonymity said that bread and many foodstuffs have not been available in the city for a week.

“There has been no bread in the town for three days, especially after the coalition airstrikes yesterday [Thursday] on the silos and mills when the terrorists expelled the workers and turned the area into a military base,” the activist said.

http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/8723ddec-2101-4516-8ef1-c03008cb366d/Kurdish-led-SDF-enter-Manbij–liberate-western-side

13. Turkmens disclaim AKP allegations.

Hawar News Agency, 18/06/2016

MANBIJ– Turkmens in Manbij said that IS mercenaries committed the worst practices against them, and used to look at Kurds, Syriacs, and Turkmens as inferior to Arabs, revealing the falsity of the Turkish state’s claims of ethnic cleansing conducted in the area by Manbij forces.

Jib al-Arous a village inhabited by Turkmens, 9 km northwest of Manbij was freed by Manbij forces, residents of the village spoke to ANHA and revealed to the public the disinformation the Turkish state is leading in the Media about ethnic cleansing.

Imam of the village says that” as soon as IS entered our village they started killing and beheading people to frighten them, and used to speak in the name of Islam their actions however oppose Islam.

Imam added that youths of the village were forced to leave or join IS, the mercenaries were prejudiced against non-Arab components especially Kurds and looked down on them

Another said that they were forced to grow beards, shorten mustaches, and wear black short clothes.

A Turkmen woman spoke about the mercenaries terror and their practices” women were put under heavy pressure and aggression, and forced to wear Niqab(face covering) and long black clothes “.

“Children also were not allowed to attend school in order to keep them ignorant so they would not cause troubles, according to IS” Added the woman.

“After that, we could no more endure this situation and we appealed to QSD to save us which answered our calls, and we are grateful for their arrival and saving us from IS mercenaries”.

http://en.hawarnews.com/turkmens-disclaim-akp-allegations/

14. McGurk: Manbij is a network and planning centre for IS.

Hawar News Agency, 18/06/2016 10

NEWS DESK– the American Presidential envoy to the Global Coalition countering IS Brett McGurk said “Manbij is considered a network and planning center for the organization, we believe that Paris and Brussels attackers crossed this city, in the few coming days the city will be broken into”.

In an interview with CNN McGurk said” IS is suffering from unprecedented pressures in Syria and Iraq”.

“During the campaign countering IS, we witnessed for the first time simultaneous strikes, we are running a massive operation now in Syria in Manbij which is the network and planning center of the organization and we believe those who launched Paris and Brussels attacks passed here, we are besieging the city now and will break into it soon” said McGurk.

http://en.hawarnews.com/mcgurk-manbij-is-a-network-and-planning-center-for-is/ 11

Comment, Opinion and Analysis

15. Why the Islamic State is in retreat.

By Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, 13/06/2016

Two years ago the Islamic State’s blitz assault across a swath of land as big as the United Kingdom led to the establishment of the self-proclaimed Caliphate and fragmented both Syria and Iraq. The recent defeats inflicted on the Islamic radicals, however, have considerably shrunk the areas under IS control in both countries.

Indeed, under the pressure of the Syrian-Iranian-Russian-Hizbullah coalition on the one hand and the American-Western-Iraqi and moderate-Arab coalition on the other, the Islamic State suffered enormous losses in manpower (according to the French minister of defense, 20,000 IS fighters have been killed during the last year) and more significantly, the IS has lost an estimated 40 percent of its territory, conquered only a few months earlier. The most symbolic loss was Palmyra, retaken by Bashar Assad’s loyal forces with the active assistance of Russian air power and the infantry support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Afghani paramilitary units.

Likewise, in Iraq, the regime scored a huge success in recapturing key cities that had fallen under the IS control such as Ramadi and Beiji. Currently, the Iraqi regime is trying to reconquer a key Sunni city, Fallujah, north of Baghdad, while continuing to prepare an assault on Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. A Kurdish coalition, reportedly assisted by U.S. Special Forces, is approaching the outskirts of Raqqa in Syria, the unofficial capital of the IS Caliphate.

http://www.enterstageright.com/archive/articles/0616/isisretreat.htm

16. Will Putin Snub Erdogan’s Olive Branch?

By Damien Sharkov, 16/06/2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have rejected an apparent move to reconciliation by Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The two leaders entered a bitter war of words in November after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet, apparently invading its airspace for the third time. Since then Russia has introduced sanctions on Turkish imports, asked citizens not to visit the country and Russian public opinion of Turkey has turned overwhelmingly negative.

According to the Kremlin, the Turkish President made a significant approach to Putin by sending a letter to the Russian leader on Sunday, to mark Russia’s national holiday, celebrating its post-Soviet constitution.

The letter contained a message from Erdogan expressing hope that relations between the two countries would normalise. According to Russian state news Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, received a similar message from his Turkish counterpart.

http://europe.newsweek.com/will-putin-snub-erdogans-olive-branch-letter-470664?rm=eu

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