Entries by Rojava IC

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August Sleeper Cell Report: rising threat level in Hol camp prompts ‘Operation Humanity and Security’

Asayish during ‘Operation Humanity and Security’. The ongoing ‘Operation Humanity and Security’ in Hol camp yielded 121 arrests in the month of August. Outside of Hol camp, sleeper cell attacks and casualties increased slightly from July. Inside of Hol camp, murders remained low; ISIS has largely shifted strategy, planning more infrequent, but large-scale, attacks rather […]

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A Month on from Tehran – Turkish Attacks from 19/7-18/8/2022


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On the 19th of July, 2022, a meeting between the heads of state of Turkey, Iran and Russia took place in Tehran in order to discuss their country’s involvement in the war in Syria. The tripartite meeting took place amid Erdoğan’s calls for a new invasion of NES. No ‘green light’ for such an operation was given publicly by Iran or Russia.

In a meeting with Iran’s Khamenei, the latter told Erdoğan that “any military offensive into Syria’s north will definitely harm Turkey, Syria & the region, & will benefit the terrorists,” yet agreed that “We will certainly cooperate with [Turkey] in the fight against terrorism.” During the meeting, Erdoğan once again raised the issue of Turkish national security, saying “The terrorist organizations [referring to the YPG/YPJ] must be confronted and ousted from Syria.” He also expressed his hope “to receive Iranian and Russian support in this regard.” Khamenei’s use of “terrorists” is ambiguous. Iranian militias reportedly are cooperating with the YPG in order to defend the Shehba region from a possible Turkish attack. Iran’s interests in the region include the defence of the Shia-majority villages of Nubl & Zahraa from both the Turkish-backed SNA & HTS. This year, Iran-backed militias built at least one base in Shehba.

Equally cryptic, the Kremlin’s agenda in Tehran included measures to “eradicate the nest of international terrorism” & “radical Islamic terrorist organizations” in Idlib. These likely refer to ISIS & HTS, which have free reign in Turkish-occupied Syria, rather than the YPG/YPJ. At Tuesday’s trilateral talks, Putin stressed that “Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity & border safety must be respected.” Moscow’s Syria envoy added that Russia wanted to persuade Turkey “not to use force,” but to “find a solution through negotiations & dialogue.”

In the month since Tehran, no land invasion by the Turkish army has taken place. However, Turkey has escalated its attacks on the region, through near-constant shelling (only one day between July 19th and August 18th did not feature shelling on North and East Syria by the Turkish army or Turkish-backed SNA forces). Furthermore, it has increased the use of drones, which have conducted more flights into NES than in the past three months combined. Two-thirds of all drone-related deaths this year have occurred in the aforementioned timeframe.

RIC has compiled a timeline of Turkish attacks between July 19th and August 18th. It found that dozens of villages from Tirbespiye to Shehba were shelled almost every day. Exactly half (75) of all casualties of Turkish attacks on NES in these 31 days (150) were civilians. At least 7 children have been killed and 27 injured. Turkish attacks mainly killed SDF soldiers (29), but SAA soldiers are increasingly being targeted along the border with Turkey and Turkish-controlled territory as well.

July 19th

On the night before the trilateral meeting in Tehran, Turkish-backed SNA forces in Afrin shell the village of Mayasa, in Shehba, injuring a civilian, Zalukh Hamsho (30). Around midday, a suicide drone targeted Syrian government forces (SAA) in Tel Rifaat (Shehba), injuring 2 soldiers. The same SAA base had been targeted by another suicide drone the day before.

July 20th

During the night, the village of Harbel in Shehba is targeted by a DShKa weapon from Turkish-occupied Afrin. Later in the day, the village of Wahshia (Shehba) was also shelled. (pictured)

In the early morning, the Manbij Military Council reported that their fighters “repelled the infiltration of a group of mercenaries of Turkish occupation on the village of al-Muhsinli, north of Manbij, after prolonged clashes. As a result of the resistance shown by the fighters, the infiltration operation failed.”

In Iraqi Kurdistan, an artillery strike by the Turkish army kills 9 Iraqi civilians and wounded another 33.

At night, a Turkish drone strike west of Kobane killed 2 SDF soldiers, Kendal Rojava and Berxwedan Kobane.

July 21st

In the morning, the villages of Mayassa and Burj al-Qas (Shehba) are shelled over 10 times from Turkish-occupied Afrin.

In the afternoon, a Turkish drone attack targeted a car near Qira, south of Amude, injuring at least 2 SDF soldiers. The attack happened over 34km deep into North and East Syria. This is the furthest from Turkish or Turkish-occupied territory that any Turkish drone has conducted an airstrike in the region.

July 22nd

The villages of Kozaliya, Tal al-Laban, Um al-Khair, Tal Tawil, Tawila, and al-Salmasa, near Tel Tamir were shelled from Turkish-occupied territory in the morning. In Shehba, Aqibe, Kafr Karis, the vicinity of al-Awda IDP camp, and Tel Rifaat were also shelled, causing “great material damage” to civilian houses.

Near Kobane, in Zor Maghar (on the Euphrates River opposite Turkish-occupied Jarablus), an SAA position was targeted by a drone.

In the evening, as they were returning from a conference commemorating a decade of the women’s revolution, 3 YPJ fighters were killed when a Turkish drone targeted their car on the Qamishlo-Tirbespiye road. The three women were senior SDF deputy commander Jiyan Afrin/Tolhildan, YPJ commander Roj Khabour (pictured at the conference below), and Barin Botan.

July 23rd

3 members of the Assyrian Khabour Guards, a local militia which forms part of the SDF, were injured by shelling from SNA groups in Turkish-occupied territory on the village of al-Abosh, near Tel Tamir. The village was repeatedly shelled throughout the day. In nearby Umm al-Kif, SNA shelling damaged an electricity transmission station, cutting off electricity to the region. Further civilian-inhabited villages on the Tel Tamir front, including Dardara, Qabr al-Qarajneh, and Sheikh Al, were also targeted, damaging civilian houses.

In Shehba, the villages of Umm al-Hosh, Umm al-Qura, and Hesaçik were shelled from Turkish-occupied Afrin.

July 24th

Shelling escalated on the 24th, with the villages of Dardara, Sukar al-Ahmer, Tal Juma’a, Tal al-Tawil, al-Ghaybish, Tawila, Dashisha, Qasr Tuma Yalda, the Assyrian village of Tel Shenan, and the vicinity of the Russian base north of Tel Tamir being targeted with “over 80 rockets in less than an hour.” The attack killed 1 civilian, Hussein Ibrahim Aloush, & injured 4 civilians – Fayiz Mahmoud Al-Khidir, Ferhan Alo Khalo and Wedha Jajan Bou Amro and Rajiha Yasin Meniti.

Near Zirgan, the villages of Asadiya, Tel Amer, and Mushayfra were shelled, destroying several civilian houses, and killing an SAA soldier & injuring 4 civilians, including a father & his 2 children. Their names are: Muhammad Qassem (20), Muayad Abdullah (32), Muhammad Muayad Abdullah (7), & Tayser Muayad Abdullah (5).

In Shehba, the villages of Milikiya, Shawargha, Qal’at Shawargha, Tenab, Ziyara, Aqiba, Bayna, Nayrabeh, “the vicinity of a Russian base,” and Tel Rifaat were shelled from Turkish-occupied territory. 2 SAA soldiers were injured.

July 25th

Shelling across multiple frontlines continued on the 25th. In Shehba, Tel Madeq was targeted. In Zirgan, Asadiya, Khidrawi, Tel Harmel, Tel Ward, Khirbet Shir, Mazriye, Bisbis, and Dada Abdal were shelled. Near Tel Tamir, the Assyrian village was targeted. Turkish drones were spotted flying from Darbasiya to Tel Tamir, and above Shehba, though no drone attack occurred that day. In addition, Tel Ziwan, on the border near Qamishlo, was also hit by artillery in the evening. NES’ Internal Security Forces (Asayish) released a statement later that night saying:

“Turkish forces hit the lands surrounding the village with four artillery shells, which led to its burning and the outbreak of fire near the homes of the people. […] The Turkish occupation seeks to displace citizens and destabilize their security and safety through attacks carried out by our people from all components in many areas near the border strip.”

July 26th

Several villages in the Shehba region were again targeted from Turkish-occupied Afrin, including Herbel, Umm al-Hosh, Sammukia, Tel al-Madiq, Sheli, Bene, Tenab, Baylunia, Ayn Deghna, Mennagh, Shuragha, Mara’naz, Tel Rifaat, and Sheikh Issa, where 4 civilians were injured. One of them, a 17-year-old girl, would later die from her injuries on August 1st. According to local media, the region was shelled over 100 times that day. In Umm al-Hosh, shelling caused agricultural fields to catch on fire. Military jets furthermore circled Shehba in the evening.

Several Turkish drone strikes targeted the Firat region, including one on an SDF position in Bir Arab, which reportedly killed an SDF commander, and another attack near Qazali village, which killed an SDF soldier (both near Kobane). In addition, a drone strike near a gas station in Ayn Issa wounded an SDF soldier and tunnel digger. The latter later succumbed to his injuries.

July 27th

On what was a relatively peaceful day, a Turkish drone attack targeted the vicinity of a hospital in Tel Rifaat (no casualties reported), while the city and the nearby city of Grenada were shelled by the Turkish-backed SNA.

July 28th

A Turkish drone attack on a car near the Tel Samen IDP camp in the morning killed 4 members of the Asayish – Bashar Muhammad Ali Buzan, Jihan Muhammad Mustafa, Sarah Muhammad al-Hussein, and Salma Ali Mustafa.

Additionally, Dibis village (Ayn Issa), Qinetre (Shehba), and the vicinity of Zirgan were also shelled from Turkish-occupied territory.

July 29th

Several villages around Shehba – including Tel Qarah, Umm al-Hosh, al-Madiona, Shaala, al-Radar, Ziwan, Tel Enab, and Tel Rifaat – were shelled from Turkish-occupied territory. Near Zirgan, al-Asadiya and al-Misherfa were targeted, damaging 3 civilian houses in the latter village.

July 30th

Increased shelling across the Zirgan and Tel Tamir region seriously wounded 11 civilians, including 2 children. According to doctors in Heseke, the hand of a 65-year-old man would likely be amputated. 86 shells targeted the villages of al-Asadiya, Tel Shanan, Dardara, al-Abush, Akhebish, Tawila, Um al-Keyf, al-Gozaliya, Tel Laban, al-Salamsa, Umm al-Khair, Tel Tawil, and Tel al-Laban.

July 31st

First day since July 19th without any reported attack.

August 1st

Turkish-backed SNA forces shelled the villages of Ahras, Umm al-Hosh, Tel Qirah, Tel Enab, and Zaywan in Shehba; al-Boubi, near Zirgan; and al-Goziliya, near Tel Tamir.

A Turkish drone targeted a car in Ronya, Iraqi Kurdistan.

August 2nd

Burj al-Qas and Mara’naz, in Shehba, were shelled from Turkish-occupied territory.

August 3rd

The villages of al-Washishiya, Mayassa hill, and Bene were targeted from Turkish-occupied Afrin. Near Tel Tamir, the village of Tawila was shelled, which a Turkish drone attack in the village of Tel Juma killed a Tel Tamir Military Council soldier.

August 4th

A suicide drone attack in Tel Rifaat injured 9 civilians, including 5 children. A 5-year-old sustained a critical head wound. Throughout the day, the villages of Sheikh Issa, Maydouna, Mara’naz and Alqamieh were also shelled.

In Goran, near Kobane, Turkish border guards shot and killed a shepherd grazing his sheep near the Syrian-Turkish border.

August 5th

The SNA shelled the vicinity of Tel Rifaat.

August 6th

A Turkish drone strike in the industrial neighbourhood of Qamishlo killed 5 people, including 2 children, and injured another man. The attack targeted Youssef Mahmoud Rabbani, a commander of the PJAK, a PKK-related armed group fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Iran. According to the Jazira Internal Council, Rabbani had been on an official visit to NES. The attack killed an SDF soldier and injured the mechanic who had been working on Rabbani’s car. The mechanic’s son and nephew, both children, were killed in the attack. According to the SDF, the Turkish and Iranian secret services collaborated on the strike.

In Shehba, the villages of Kafer Antoun, Merenaz, Alqamiye, Shewarekha, Bene, and Asha Faysal were shelled from Turkish-occupied territory. Bene was attacked for over 3 hours with over 70 shells, causing agricultural fields to burn.

August 7th

In Shehba, the villages of Umm al-Hosh, the vicinity of Tel Rifaat, and Mara’naz were shelled, while Herbel was targeted with a DShK machinegun. Turkish drones were spotted flying over northern Shehba, though no attack was recorded.

Following a period of calm, villages on the Manbij front, including those inhabited by civilians, were targeted by SNA forces with mortars and shells. The villages included A’awn al-Dadat, Tokhar, al-Jat, al-Hoshriya and al-Muhsinly.

August 8th

The Turkish army launched a multi-pronged attack on nearly all fronts in the morning, which continued throughout the day. The attacks left at least 2 civilians wounded, one seriously. Additionally, journalists were targeted, though were not injured. Shelling targeted Cheteliye, near Darbasiya; Tel Ziwan, where a civilian was injured, near Qamishlo; and the villages of Kherze, Kerame, Khanika, Kar Top, Tel Hamdound, and Jirnike, where a Rojava TV crew was targeted with shells, near Amude. Zirgan was targeted, and a communications tower was destroyed as a result. Near Tel Tamir, the villages of Gozaliye, Tel al-Liban, Qabur, al-Qarajneh, and Tel Tawila were targeted. Shelling on the village of Jadeda, near Any Issa, seriously wounded a civilian. Further shelling also targeted the Tel Abyad and Tel Rifaat countryside.

Additionally, a Turkish drone strike targeted an SAA position in the village of Kherze, though no casualties were reported.

People gathered in the cemetery of Qamishlo to bury those killed in the Qamishlo drone attack.

August 9th

On the 9th, Turkish forces continued to escalate attacks on NES, shelling villages across the contact line, and conducting 2 drone strikes within NES. The attacks this day killed 5 people, including 1 civilian, and injured 13 other people, including 5 adult civilians and 5 children. Additional reports alleged that 2 SAA soldiers were also injured.

Shelling from Turkey targeted several villages across the border in attacks unprecedented in breadth in recent memory. The eastern-most village targeted was Dairuna Aghe, near Cil Axa. Further west, near Tirbespiye, Shalhoumieh, Gardim, Kil Hasanak, Tel Jahan, Rotan, Zour Ava, Tel Bishik, Mulla Abbas, Girke Zira, Mahraghan, Mizgeft, Kil Hasanak, Dikri, Dashisha, Kozliya, Dirona Qalanca, and Tel Shaer were shelled 23 times. In Tel Shaer, a girl and her mother were wounded by shells as they worked in the field.

Near Qamishlo Tel Ziwan was once again shelled, in addition to Omrik and Se Girka, where a shell hit a civilian house, causing the injury of 6 family members, including 4 children. Near Amude, a Turkish drone once again targeted a house in Kherze, with no reports of casualties. However, in nearby Khanika, 1 civilian was wounded by shelling. Additionally, Jarnak, Tel Hamdoun, and Khaniki were shelled 21 times. In Qarmana, near Darbasiya, 2 SAA soldiers were said to have been injured in addition to 1 civilian. Throughout the day, a Turkish drone circled northern Jazira.

Further west, in Zirgan, Fakhira, Arida, and al-Asadiya were shelled. A 55-year-old civilian was killed by night-time shelling al-Salmsaa, near Tel Tamir, as he slept.

The Manbij Military Council released a statement saying that the villages of Arab Hasan, al-Mohsinli, Aoun al-Dadat, Tokhar, al-Hoshria, al-Jat, al-Sayada, al-Yanli, al-Kawgli, Korhyuk, al-Bogas were targeted by 81 shells in the 10 days prior to August 9th, though no exact dates were given.

In Shehba, the village of Umm al-Qura was targeted with 10 howitzer shells.

In the afternoon, a second Turkish drone strike in the city of Qamishlo killed 4 SDF soldiers and injured 3 others near an SDF base, close to a COVID-19 center. According to preliminary information, the soldiers were digging trenches when they were attacked.

In the evening, citizens in Qamishlo visited the local hospital in order to donate blood for the wounded.

August 10th

In Qamishlo, the villages of Se Girka and Khaled Kilo were targeted by the Turkish army.

Shelling resumed in Ayn Issa, where the villages of Umm al-Baramel, al-Makhlat, al-Hesha, and Haweja were targeted 30 times by SNA forces. The power in al-Hesha was cut off as a result of the attack. Further north, the villages of Kor Hassan and Arida were also shelled.

In Shehba, Sokhaneke, Aqibe, and Bene were shot at 20 times with howitzers.

In the afternoon, a taxi carrying 2 SDF soldiers returning from duty was targeted by a Turkish drone on the main highway that circumvents the SAA-held portion of the M4 road, near the village of Mala Sibat. Both soldiers and the taxi driver were killed.

August 11th

The SDF shared a video of an attack they staged against the Turkish army on the Turkish-Syrian border region. According to the SDF press office, 23 Turkish soldiers were killed and 3 were injured.

The Turkish army and the SNA continued to shell NES, though at a scale much reduced from days prior. Near Ayn Issa, Ma’lak, Jadeideh, the Ayn Issa camp, and the M4 road were shelled. In Shehba, Tal Qarah and Bene were targeted.

August 12th

Turkish-backed SNA forces shelled Dardara and Qabr al-Qarajneh, killing 2 soldiers of the Syriac Military Council. During shelling on al-Sheikh, further north, a lieutenant of the SAA was injured.

In Shehba, the villages of Bene, Soghanka, Aqiba, as well as Khirebshe, Derqaq, Madoun, and Sheale were targeted from Turkish-occupied territory.

August 13th

The villages of Kozliya, Tal al-Laban, Sheikh Ali, and al-Dardara, near Tel Tamir, were shelled. Additionally, Umm al-Hosh and Shaala in Shehba was targeted over 70 times.

August 14th

Sheikh Ali, near Tel Tamir, was shelled.

August 15th

In the morning, the village of Bene was bombarded for over 2 hours by more than 20 howitzer shells. The attack damaged a civilian house, next to a school (pictured). Turkish drones flew overhead. Throughout the day, the villages of Mayassa, Burj Waqas, Tenab, and Kashtaar (all in Shehba) were also targeted.

August 16th

Turkish forces escalated their attacks on the 16th, repeatedly shelling Kobane, as well as border and frontline villages from Tirbespiye to Shehba. The attacks killed 6 people, including a child, as well as between 3 and 22 SAA soldiers, and injured at least 7 people, including 2 SDF soldiers, 3 adult civilians, and 2 children. A number of SAA soldiers were also said to have been killed.

In northern Jazira, a Syriac Sotoro Forces academy near Rotaan, Tirbespiye, was shelled, in addition to Jirnik (near Amude), Chetel and Qarman (near Darbasiya), and the city of Zirgan, where a child was injured. Tawila, Kozaliya, Tel al-Laban, Umm al-Khair, Tel Tawil, al-Salmasa, and Qibur Qirajne were shelled near Tel Tamir.

In the morning, the Turkish army shelled the outskirts and city center of Kobane (pictured), injuring a child and a young man, and destroying a car. Throughout the day, villages east and west of Kobane were targeted from Turkey, including Erida, Leqleqo, Sewan, Khirbet Baqer, Kopirlek, Zour Maghar, Bayadiya, Kour Ali, Sheikh Tahtani, Sheikh Fawqani, Carqili, Boban, Siftek, Selim, Ashme, Sheikhler, Kharbisan, Qaramokh, Koran, Hiho, Mar Simil, Alisher, and Zorava, where 2 men were seriously injured and a child was killed by shelling (pictured).

Later that day, Cariqli hill, which harbours an SAA base close to the Turkish border, was bombed three times by Turkish military planes, killing between 3 and 22 SAA soldiers and injuring a number of others (pictured).

In Manbij, the villages of al-Jat and Masi were shelled. In Shehba, Bene, Sokhanek, Qinetra, and Zara’nita were targeted.

SDF spokesman Ferhad Shami said the SDF had observed preparations for an attack on the Turkish side, such as the temporary suspension of joint patrols with the Russian army in Syria. “It was made obvious that they wanted to carry out an attack. Simultaneously, the media and press of the occupation have been present along the border line. It is as if they wanted to create an agenda regarding fleeing people,” he added. Shami denied that the SDF had attacked the Turkish army beforehand, but stressed that “one hundred percent, this attack will be retaliated in the framework of legitimate self-defence.” According to Turkish sources, Turkish soldiers were attacked near Birecik, Urfa, that night.

In the evening of the 16th, a Turkish drone strike in Sanjak Saadoun, south of Amude, killed 5 SDF soldiers and wounded another 2.

That night, several online sources falsely warned of an impending Turkish land invasion, which did not materialize.

August 17th

On the 17th, shelling west of Kobane continued, with Zor Mikhar attacked with at last 10 shells. In Shehba, Umm al-Qura, Wahishiya, Shawargha, and Tat Marash were targeted with over 200 shells.

SDF released a statement saying they arrested a man carrying a 6kg explosive underneath his car in Heseke. (pictured) According to the statement, the man worked for Turkish intelligence and was going to conduct an attack in the city.

In the evening, a member of the Tel Tamir Military Council was injured by a drone attack near Khebishe. It was the 70th Turkish drone attack on NES this year.

August 18th

In Shehba, Washiye, Kafir Qaris, Baylunya and Sheikh Issa are shelled from Turkish-occupied territory.

The SDF alleges they killed 7 Turkish soldiers and wounded a number of others in 3 operations as part of a “Legitimate Response Operation.”

In the evening, a drone attack on SDF positions near Istrahat Wazir (between Tel Tamir and Heseke) kills 2 SDF soldiers and wounds 3 others. Additionally, 4 girls were killed and 11 injured when a drone attack targeted a minor education center for girls.

Later that night, shelling on Dardara, near Tel Tamir, seriously injured 2 SAA soldiers.

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July Sleeper Cell Report: Low Number of Attacks, Major Events

A major Asayish raid on the 22nd in Hol camp yielded at least 19 arrests. Security forces remain on high alert over a possible attack on the camp despite low number of murders this month.   Sleeper cell attacks down from June; confirmed ISIS attacks decreased from 18 to 14 Major Coalition strike against ISIS […]

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The Rojava Revolution – A Decade On (Part I)

Part I History of the Revolution: Much Achieved, Still Much to be Done 1. Introduction The ‘Rojava Revolution’ began exactly ten years ago, on July 19th 2012, when three predominantly Kurdish-inhabited areas of Syria declared their autonomy from the central government. Since then, a democratic, autonomous administration has attempted to create a grassroots, gender-equal and […]

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May Sleeper Cell Report: attacks down but intensity of SDF anti-terror raids threatens tribal relations in Deir ez-Zor

Sleeper cell attacks more than halved compared to April 6 assassinations in al-Hol 2 large security operations in al-Hol saw 31 arrested in total Outside of al-Hol, 51 people with links to ISIS were arrested Anti-terror raids in Deir ez-Zor greatly increased in response to threats, yet SDF’s heavy-handed approach created tensions with tribes In-Depth […]