A selection of articles, photographs, and videos
A (now farfetched) opposition victory in Turkey likely wouldn’t lead to drastic different Syria policy
“No matter who wins, it is going to be bad for Syrian refugees. The public hunger to basically see these people deported is enormous,” Nicholas Danforth, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), explained. Under either Erdoğan or Kılıçdaroğlu’s cabinet, “you will likely see some forcible effort to ‘voluntarily’ relocate people,” he added. “Ultimately, political pressure will force either party to want to be seen doing something.”
Voluntary returns from Turkey to Syria in recent years fall well shy of this aim: 161,787 since 2016, and 33,953 in 2022, per UN data. But while Erdoğan’s plan to return one million Syrians has not materialized, his government has deported hundreds of Syrian refugees in the past couple of years, forcing many to sign voluntary departure forms in a breach of international law, as documented by Human Rights Watch.
“A handshake with Assad is going to be made by both, Kılıçdaroğlu or Erdoğan, both have said that if it is going to facilitate the agreement regarding refugees’ return they will do it,” he added.
IDP camp in AANES Deir ez-Zour at the center of a property dispute
The Jelats, who gave the AANES verbal permission to use the land in 2017, are a prominent family from Deir e-Zor known to own vast swathes of land in the north of the province, including most of the fields that surround the camp. They belong to the Baggara, an influential Arab tribe in the area, with whom the AANES has long tried to build ties in order to strengthen its hold in rural Deir e-Zor. Dhiab al-Jelat is also a local political figure, a member of the AANES’ General Council (the equivalent of a parliament) and an employee of the AANES’ Executive Council in Deir e-Zor.
The [Armenian] Brikhans, meanwhile, have been farming in the area around Abu Khashab since the 1950s. They have several property deeds to the land on which Abu Khashab was built that were issued by the Syrian government before the 2011 revolution. But they are members of an ethnic and religious minority that largely left Deir e-Zor during the war, and have less local influence than the Jelats.
Al-Jelat claims his family has a green tabu, a document issued by Damascus’ land registry proving that they own the land. However, he could not provide a copy of the document to Syria Direct. The Brikhan family has provided several legal documents to the camp administration, which were examined by the lawyers of an international NGO that was planning to intervene in the camp, and found to be authentic. Syria Direct has not independently reviewed the documents, and could not reach the Brikhan family for comment.
The importance of the (currently closed) Faysh Khabour/Semalka crossing
Dozens of trucks arrive at Fishkhabour every day from Iraqi Kurdistan, carrying supplies destined for northeast Syrian markets, including sugar, cement and imported foodstuff. According to an official working on the AANES side of the crossing, who requested anonymity, 70 to 100 trucks carrying commercial supplies enter northeast Syria every day through Semalka, and 150 to 200 through al-Waleed, another commercial border crossing connecting the Kurdistan Region and Syria. Al-Waleed is a key exit point for locally extracted crude oil, which is a key source of revenue for the AANES. It also closed May 11 for an undetermined period.
Due to its economic importance, Semalka is sometimes nicknamed “the breathing point of northeast Syria.” But it is also a political and humanitarian lifeline for AANES-controlled regions.
But those most affected by the sudden closure are probably medical patients trying to access care outside northeast Syria, where health-care services are limited. Saleh Suleiman, a Syrian Kurd who lives in Iraqi Kurdistan, managed to get his elderly parents and two special needs brothers to visit him for several months for treatment. But they are now stuck on the Iraqi side, he told Al-Monitor, and every month they spend there costs them around $400 in residency fees.
STJ: The Full Story of the Nowruz Eve Murder
Recent report that I contributed to detailing the killing of four Kurdish men at a Cindires Newroz celebration by SNA fighters in March. The report includes eyewitness testimony, background information and some open source analysis, the latter of which I highlighted in this Twitter thread.
Detailed RIC report on conditions in AANES-controlled al-Shahba’ region of northern Aleppo
US drone strike in Idlib kills shepherd not al-Qa’idah commander
“We are no longer confident we killed a senior AQ official,” one official said. The other, offering a slightly different view, said “though we believe the strike did not kill the original target, we believe the person to be al-Qaeda.” Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss preliminary determinations of an ongoing investigation into the incident.
The morning of May 3 was unremarkable, his son Hassan said. Misto gathered with family about 7:30 a.m. “We had breakfast that morning like there was nothing wrong. We had breakfast and everything was fine, and then he went to herd his sheep,” the son recalled.
Misto took a break after a few hours outside near his home to have tea with his brother. They parted ways around 11:30 a.m., and he returned to his animals as they grazed in a rolling field of shrubs, twisting trees and rock outcroppings.
An MQ-9 Predator drone soared overhead, tracking Misto’s footsteps through the field. Such aircraft had been surveilling the area for nearly two weeks, neighbors said. The Hellfire missile hit him not far from where he had tea with his brother just 20 minutes earlier.
The fate of regional* mass protest movements of the past fifteen years
Rumble has been mostly cleared from worst-hit areas in Cindires city
Circassian auxiliaries in the French Army of the Levant (1920-45)
Eastern Aleppo’s Najm castle on the right bank of the Euphrates
Deir ez-Zour’s al-Bahrah town seen from the air
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