Rojava’s residents will be celebrating the defeat of ISIS soon, but they face an uncertain future

Key events:
– Final assault launched on ISIS pocket south of Deir-Ez-Zor, following evacuation of 20,000 civilians in recent weeks:  Read more

– American military sources say most forces will be leaving Syria by March, with complete withdrawal by April: Read more

– 63 suspected ISIS militants arrested in the city of Raqqa by Syrian Democratic Forces: Read more

Spotlight:

This week has been focused on the defeat of ISIS’ territorial caliphate, expected to be announced in the coming days as the Syrian Democratic Forces close on the last few square kilometers following the escape of over 20,000 civilians in recent weeks (see below for more). But away from the attention of the world’s cameras in Deir-Ez-Zor, there are a few stories you may have missed. In Idlib, a new rebel faction announced itself in front of a backdrop of both the Turkish and al-Qaeda in Syria (HTS) flags. Here in Rojava, on the other hand, this week saw the first meeting of the Syrian Women’s Council in Kobane, uniting women from across 5 political parties to find solutions for the urgent issues facing women in the region.

On the ground:

First meeting of the Syrian women’s council held in Kobane, uniting representatives of 5 political parties: Read more

Humanitarian organisations can only meet 17% of the needs of displaced people in Rojava: Read more

3 bombs defused in Deir-ez-Zor and Til Temir by security forces: Read morehereand here
People across Rojava protested in solidarity with Kurdish MP Leyla Guven, now in critical condition following a three-month hunger strike to demand the freedom of Abdullah Ocalan: Read more, here, and here

Statements and interviews: 

The territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria will mark a significant milestone in the war against ISIS, but does not mean our campaign against ISIS is over” – Global coalition against ISIS: Read more

US State Department calls for repatriation of foreign ISIS fighters to face trial in their home countries: Read more

“ISIS is transforming into an asymmetrical warfare force. And this, of course, is a threat…. We remain a long way from peace in Syria.” – German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Read more

Israeli PM Netanyahu is set to meet Russian President Putin this month. “With regard to the latest Israeli attacks, we said that such arbitrary attacks on sovereign Syrian territory should be stopped and excluded… Any strikes destabilise the situation even more. No one should conduct actions in Syria that go beyond the scope of antiterrorist objectives.”- Sergei Vershinin, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister: Read more

Ten days after the evacuation of more than twenty thousand civilians, 600 jihadists could still remain inside ISIS territory. “The Syrian Democratic Forces launched the last battle to crack down on the terrorist organization (ISIS) in the village of Al-Baguz” – SDF announces final push to liberate AANES from ISIS presence: Read more

An international coalition of groups supporting religious freedom made a statement pleading with the Trump administration to prevent Turkey from entering the northeast region of Syria, warning it will lead to “genocide”: Read more

“Friends must be loyal to each other and ensure each other’s safety. They should not betray each other or give up their friends in difficult times.” –  YPG commander Polat Can condemns US decision to withdraw: Read more

“There is no satisfactory plan with US” on imposition of buffer zone in AANES – Turkish president Erdogan: Read more

The war against ISIS:

The SDF face a tough battle against some of ISIS’ most battle-hardened fighters: Read more

Top US commander Joseph Votel warns there are ‘tens of thousands’ of ISIS fighters still in Syria and Iraq: Read more

Foreign citizens, including Canadians, among those surrendering to SDF forces from inside ISIS lines: Read more

Russia repatriates 27 ISIS children back to their homeland: Read more

Turkey:


Turkish public prosecutor seeks arrest of 16 members of the pro-Kurdish party HDP that took part in recent local elections: Read more

Erdogan tells voters to worry about the price of a bullet, not the rapidly-inflating price of food in Turkey: Read more 

For the second year running, Turkey is listed as a non-free country by ‘Freedom House’ due to attacks on civil rights: Read more  

In Idlib, a new armed faction declares itself, standing before both the Turkish flag and the flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq:  Read more

Afrin:     A German court has ruled the previous ban on protesting about the Turkish occupation of Afrin was unlawful, one year after the assault: Read more

In-fighting continues between Turkish-backed factions in Afrin: Read more

Civilian executed by Turkish-backed faction in Afrin: Read more

Rojava IC reports:

Fox News published an exclusive interview with two international volunteers in Rojava: American Hunter Pugh (25) who serves as a infantryman in YPG, and British Thomas McClure (24), who works in Rojava Information Center: Read more

Neues Deutschland wrote an article about the establishment and aims of the Rojava Information Center: Read more