Daesh consolidates, Kurdish opposition divides

Submitted by Matthew on 9 September, 2015 - 9:27 Author: Simon Nelson

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates around 5,000 people from all sides and including fighters and civilians died in Syria during August.

The shocking recent death toll in Syria is just the latest reasons why hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the country. The total number of Syrian refugees displaced across the Middle East, Europe and North Africa now stands at over four million.

The Jerusalem Post reported that among those who have fled to Europe are 100,000 Palestinian refugees that have previously been living in refugee camps across Syria, but had never had the right to citizenship.

Daesh (ISIS) were justly condemned for destroying artefacts at the ancient archeological site of Palmyra believing they represent un-Islamic beliefs and idolatry.

Daesh has also destroyed Christian monasteries and buildings, imposed the “jizya, a tax that non Muslims must pay in order to live within the “caliphate”.

The choice faced by Syria’s Christian minority is to leave, convert to Islam, pay “jizya” or be killed by Daesh. In the city of al- Qaryatain, south east of Homs, local Christians are reported to have paid the tax in order to retrieve their identity documents which were held by Daesh.

Daesh’s latest victory is the capture of the Jazal oilfield to the east of Homs, the last oilfield under the control of the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It is not currently operational, but its loss a blow to the regime, which has tried to protect Syria’s resources and oil infrastructure from rebel factions.

The fighting around Homs remains some of the most intense between Daesh, other Islamist fighters including Jabhat al Nusra, and regime forces.

In Iraq, a woman has killed Daesh military commander Abu Anas for forcing her into sexual slavery.

The woman was reportedly forced to marry several Daesh members following their takeover of Mosul. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so called Caliph of the Islamic State, has decreed that non-Iraqi women should be brought to Mosul as sex slaves.

In July, seven women were gang-raped in Fallujah and then killed by Daesh fighters.

Reports of brutal misogyny began to surface in 2014 and have included:

• 150 women were executed in al-Anbar after refusing to marry Daesh fighters.

• According to the UN Daesh militants attack villages and send women to “slave auctions”.

• The International Business Times reports that at auctions “The girls [are] sold naked, with IS leaders having first choice, followed by emirs (commanders), and finally the fighters.”

The Democratic Union Party (PYD), the largest Kurdish party in Syria has released Falamaz Uthmana, a rival politician from the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDK-S).

Uthman’s arrest was condemned by the KNC (Kurdish National Council) the local bodies setup across the territory known as Rojava that is in Kurdish control. In a statement they said; “these actions are incompatible with human dignity and human rights, and it results in the weakening of Kurdish unity, and creates an atmosphere of discontent, resentment and despair in the Kurdish community.”

The PYD’s police have arrested several Kurdish rival politicians, saying they were forming “armed gangs”.

There have also been allegations of kidnapping of young men in order to press gang them in six months compulsory military service in the Peoples Self Defence Forces (YPG).

This follows allegations from Amnesty International that the PYD is using its fight against Daesh as an opportunity to arrest and harrass political opponents.

During a fact finding mission to Syria, Amnesty interviewed prisoners held by the PYD. Several said they were detained without charge or trial; some who did stand trial went through lengthy detention beforehand and were unable to see the evidence against them or properly defend themselves.

A number of detainees, of whom most were Arabs, were detained for having relatives who had fought for Daesh, for criticism of the PYD on social media or for other criticism of the Kurdish administration.

The counter-terrorism law introduced by the PYD in 2014 has been used to detain and prosecute Kurdish opposition groups critical of the PYD. The PDK-S, a Kurdish opposition party, told Amnesty International that 12 members of their party in Afrin, also under the control of the PYD-led administration, were arbitrarily detained in 2014.

They were sentenced for “terrorist acts”, without any substantiated evidence.

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