Key Events

  • The last operation against ISIS in Baghouz started after ISIS jihadists are surrendering by the hundreds.
  • Rescued Yezidi children and women have been reunited with their families in the Iraqi Kurdistan, after being delayed due to the shutdown of the border by the Iraqi government.
  • The number of people in Camp al-Hol near Al-Hasakah is daily increasing. Recent countings are up to 53.000 people.

Spotlight: Brief report from our researchers in Baghouz, Deir-ez-Zor

The final operation against the last ISIS hold-out in Baghouz is underway. Scores of ISIS jihadists are surrendering, their families being received by SDF at the camp at al-Hol, administered by the Autonomous Administration. Last week (27.2.2019), our researchers described the situation they were witnessing in the area:

Two days ago we yet again witnessed huge numbers of people streaming out of Baghouz, this time during the night.

The press pack were greeted by an eerie ambience on their arrival as hundreds of silhouettes moved across the desert and into custody of the SDF. These ghostlike figures, shadows of their former selves, made an apt metaphor for the failed state they had just left; exhausted and defeated but not without defiance, promising to renew the ‘dawla’ as soon as they can.

Yesterday evening another group crossed no-mans-land and spent the night in the desert, still waiting there when we arrived this morning. A significant number were foreign; we personally met women from Canada, Russia, Germany, and France with their young children. We were forbidden from interviewing the French, possibly on the order of French forces here after Macron’s declaration yesterday about the need for European states to take back their citizens.

Huge numbers of YPG and YPJ fighters were again present, processing people, and distributing food and aid. One military ambulance was providing vitamin injections to the kids. Again most of them were seriously malnourished. One YPJ fighter told us that she has witnessed 11 dying in just the last few days, many of them arriving too late to be saved by the medical staff present.

One European woman amongst the arrivals told us that only very few women and children are left in Baghouz, that they are mostly foreign and they are “afraid of leaving”. 12 more trucks arrived in the afternoon, not fully loaded, mostly women and children with a group of 20 wounded men. One had a recent gunshot wound in his leg. We are hearing that the atmosphere inside the ISIS hold-out is panic with more that 5 thousand people remaining.

On The Ground

After massive demonstrations force the Iraqi government to allow them to pass, 18 Yezidi children and 3 Yezidi women, recently rescued from ISIS, reunited with their families in the Iraqi Kurdistan.

In response to urgent and repeated requests from Arab leaders, the Executive Council of the North and East Syria’s Autonomous Administration announced the release of 283 ISIS detainee, who had not been involved with the murder of civilians, through a policy of forgiveness and pardon with a sense of responsibility. Read more.

A celebration organized by the Women’s Council of Minbij was held in the town of al-Asaliya as part of a series of events in whole North-Eastern Syria leading up to World Women’s Day. Read more.

The Self-Administration of the City of Dêrîk and the council of a district of Berlin, Germany, have agreed to become partner cities and will develop ecological projects together. Read more

War against ISIS

Hundreds of ISIS jihadists with their families surrender to SDF forces who are liberating the last pocket in al-Baghouz. SDF – overcoming heavy resistance, mines, and a large tunnel network – expect the operation to be finished soon. Read more.

Adnan Afrin, SDF commander: “Today, we are achieving the promise we made to our people and our martyrs, and in the next few days, we will spread the good omens about the great victory by ending IS’ military presence in the north and east of Syria.” Read more.

Afrin

The UN Human Rights council released a report, claiming that “there are reasonable grounds to believe armed group members in Afrin committed the war crimes of hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture and pillage”. Read more.

Turkey

With regard to the coming communal elections in Turkey the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has increased his offensive against the opposition HDP party. Read more.

Statements and interviews

Adnan Afrin, SDF commander: “Due to our commitment to the protection of civilian lives and our attemps to liberate our comrades who have been held as hostages, our forces have stopped the military operations in the small ISIS-held area in the town of Baghouz, thereby separating civilians from the remaining terrorists in order to rescue them.” Read more.

Emily Thornberry, UK foreign secretary: “ The UK military role in Syria after the defeat of the caliphate goes far beyond the policy MPs were asked to support in 2015. The government will clearly need a fresh parliamentary mandate if British engagement in Syria is going to continue even after those ISIS remnants have been destroyed, and even after the majority of US troops have been withdrawn,” Read more.

Rojava IC reports

RIC researchers provided photos and videos for several media outlets, for example the Italian agency, ANSA. See it here.