samedi 20 juin 2015

Abus des YPG dans le nord de la Syrie : les témoignages et les craintes des Arabes et Turkmènes

"Malgré les risques, les réfugiés de Tall Abyad pressés de retrouver la Syrie


"Nous avons survécu, mais nous avons peut-être tout perdu dans notre fuite".

Ils reconnaissent le risque d'une reprise des combats et d'un retour des jihadistes. Mais dès que la bataille a cessé, les réfugiés qui ont quitté la ville syrienne de Tall Abyad pour se mettre à l'abri en Turquie n'ont eu de cesse que d'y retourner. Au plus vite. (...)

Fahriye Behedi, 40 ans, se presse elle aussi devant les policiers turcs qui laissent passer un à un les Syriens de retour à Tall Abyad. Même si elle avoue avoir toujours peur de possibles frappes aériennes de la coalition internationale antijihadiste.
"Je rentre, j'ai laissé mon mari là-bas", explique-t-elle, le visage dissimulé sous un foulard islamique noir. "Mais j'ai toujours très peur des bombes. Qui ne serait pas effrayé par les bombes ? Quand j'ai entendu le bruit qui venait, c'était effrayant". "Nous avons survécu, mais nous avons peut-être tout perdu dans notre fuite", poursuit Fahriye, "je ne sais pas si ma maison de deux étages est toujours debout et je me prépare à être obligée de partir une nouvelle fois".

Dans la masse des quelque 23.000 réfugiés qui ont passé la frontière depuis deux semaines, tous ne sont pas pressés de rentrer. Les vainqueurs kurdes de la bataille de Tall Abyad n'inspirent pas confiance à sa population en majorité arabe. Seyh Deham Haseki, 60 ans, assure même que les militants kurdes sont "pires" que les jihadistes. "Nous n'accepterons pas les Kurdes parce que ce n'est pas leur terre", proclame-t-il, "c'est la terre des Arabes et nous les combattrons jusqu'au bout"."

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"Kurdish forces deny claims of abuse in towns they liberate from IS

    June 19, 2015

Ruth Pollard
Middle East Correspondent

View more articles from Ruth Pollard

Akcakale, Turkey: The people of Tel Abyad know what it is to bend to the political will of the day.

In the last three years they have been ruled by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army, al-Qaeda's Nusra Front, the Islamists of Ahrar al-Sham, the Islamic State and now the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). (...)

When the YPG captured the border town of Ras al-Ayn in July 2013 some families, like that of schoolteacher Basma, say they experienced a months-long campaign of harassment that eventually drove them to flee.

Her husband, also a schoolteacher, was involved in the movement to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from the beginning of the 2011 revolution.

"When the YPG took control of the town my husband left and fled to Turkey," Basma says in the sitting room of the small flat in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa she shares with 14 other family members.

"The YPG would send out a patrol every day to let us know we were no longer welcome in our village," she says. "They turned our lives into a nightmare."

"I asked them 'what is this if it is not ethnic cleansing?' They replied 'call it what you like, you have to leave'."

Another told her: "You Arabs here are not welcome, you used to be with the Free Syrian Army and now you may be against us."

In the meantime, officials from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) tried to convince her to join, promising her a peaceful life and even offering to ensure her an 85 per cent vote if she ran in local elections, Basma recounts with some incredulity.

The taunts, Basma says, continued to escalate until the situation passed the point of no return.

"A local commander of the YPG said to me 'how long did it take you to build this very nice house?' I replied it had taken my husband and I 13 years to build our house and he said 'watch how fast it will burn'."

"I watched it burn. We lost everything, including all my official papers, my ID, my mother-in-law's and my father-in-law's ID. Everything."

Then on February 5, 2014, the final straw: a YPG patrol again came to her door, grabbed her then five-year-old son Assadullah and threatened to hold him until her husband returned to Syria.

"I took Assadullah and my two other children and we went the a nearby village the next day … the YPG patrols were passing by the house every day, so we had to hide to make sure we were not discovered."

By now they had lost everything, she says: 1000 dunams [one square kilometre] of land, their wheat and barley crops, their agricultural equipment, generators, their house and the houses of her brothers-in-law.

Bringing her elderly parents-in-law with her, Basma took the family to Turkey, where they live in the uncertainty that is a constant for refugees. Her children cannot go to school and her husband and his brothers have been warned they "may" be on a YPG wanted list, like so many who supported the Free Syrian Army.

Giving up all hope of returning to Syria, her husband paid a smuggler to take him to Sweden and the family is awaiting word on their application for reunification.

At least three other families interviewed by Fairfax Media – from Tel Hamis, Tel Tamer and Tel Abyad – also made allegations that the YPG had driven them out of their villages. In each case the increasing intensity of air strikes from the US-led coalition and the Syrian regime was also a significant factor in forcing the families to flee.

The accusation of ethnic cleansing - made both by families and by a coalition of Syrian rebel groups - is not supported with evidence of ethnic or sectarian killings.

Regardless, it is further fuelling tensions between Arabs and Kurds in a country that is in its fifth year of a civil war that has left more than 220,000 dead, up to 9 million internally displaced and just under 4 million as refugees.

Kurdish political and military officials vehemently deny the allegations that their forces are attempting to drive Arab populations out of  Kurdish-controlled areas in Hasaka province and now Tel Abyad.

Describing the allegations as "fabricated", YPG spokesman Redur Khalil wrote on his Facebook page: "We have liberated about one thousand [villages] recently, you can come here and … [see] how they live with dignity."

Mr Khalil encouraged people to stay in their homes or seek the safety of other provinces under YPG protection. "They can return to their villages and property when security comes back to the region," he wrote.

Fairfax Media made repeated attempts to contact Mr Khalil but he did not respond by the time of publication.

Human rights groups have expressed concern about the allegations.

"We're concerned about a growing number of reports of abuses by YPG forces which we are seeking to investigate further," Neil Sammonds, Amnesty's Syria, Lebanon and Jordan researcher said.

"These include multiple incidents of forced displacement over a number of months, at times based on ethnicity, and forced conscription without potential access to alternative civilian roles."

The capture of Tel Abyad gives the Syrian Kurds control of around 400 kilometres of the Syrian-Turkish border, one of the main pathways used by foreign fighters joining IS, who now control just one border crossing east of the town of Jarabulus.

After their successful push on Kobane [also known as Ayn al-Arab] and later Tel Hamis, the YPG has emerged as a significant partner for the US-led coalition that is conducting air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq – a coalition of which Australia is a member.

A Defence Departmen spokesman said Australia had not provided military supplies to the YPG and that there was an Australian arms embargo on Syria.

"In support of the international effort against [Islamic State], and with the consent of the Iraqi government, the Australian Defence Force has completed six military store supply missions from Europe via Baghdad to Erbil since September 2014, to deliver arms and ammunition to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq," the spokesman added. "The Kurdistan Regional Government is providing assurances to the US and other international partners regarding the use of this military equipment."

The Pentagon acknowledged this week that it was aware of the allegations against its Kurdish partners.

"We certainly have seen these reports, and it is something that we are watching for," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said. "Without question it is something that we'll find unacceptable, if true.""

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PYD did not allow us to return back home: Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees speak of their ordeal in the Turkish border town where they found a shelter after being driven out from their home by the Kurdish YPG militia

Yeni Şafak |  | 18 June 2015, 17:24

Syrian refugees, who crossed into Turkey after run out of town by the Kurdish YPG militia during the military campaign targeting Tel Abyad, say that the Syrian Democratic Union Party, or PYD, did not let them stay in their land.

Mehmet Halef, a Syrian Turkmen refugee who found a shelter in the Akçakale town, said his family was forcibly evacuated from the country they had been living ln.

“We were continuously changing our location due to the air strikes. When armed Kurdish groups came into the location where we were staying, they forced us to leave the area. They did not allow us to return back to our home," he said.
“They didn't even speak to us and ask our names."

Popular Protection Units, or YPG, the armed wing of the Syrian Democratic Union Party, or PYD, has been conducting a large-scale offensive since late May. The purpose of the campaign, supported by the U.S.-backed strikes, is apparently to capture Tel Abyad province in order to link Kurdish-held cantons in northern Syria. Many of the Turkmen commanders suggest the PYD's ambition of claiming a strong autonomy in northern Syria will gain momentum after Tel Abyad falls to the Kurdish militia.

Halef's wife Rima said she failed to overcome the fear she had been caught up with when the armed Kurdish groups forced them to leave, taking with them only their children. “They were attacking and looting. We did not dare to look around to see who were killed and who survived," she explained.

Rima said that the Turkish military offered a warm welcome to her family. “They have given us new garments and food. Even a Turkish soldier who was holding my two children."

Another Syrian Turkmen refugee, Muqtad Hafi, who took shelter in the same refugee camp in Akçakale, said that the coalition jet fighters were bombing everywhere on their route. “PYD's armed forces raided our village and dispersed innocent people from their homes," he said.

“A huge number of people were driven out from their homes. They sent away innocent people from their homes,"
he said, adding that he was working as an English teacher before being dispersed from his home town.

The Şanlıurfa municipality has teamed up with the military, local NGOs and relief agencies to cover humanitarian needs of refugees, who fled into the Turkish border town, Akçakale. The Turkish Red Crescent, or Kızılay, has sent mobile kitchen equipment to the refugee camp, to serve food three times a day by cooperating with the local authority.

Doctors, sent by the Health Ministry, have examined and offered free medicines to every refugee who needs a certain remedy. Young children, considered as a risk group, have been allowed into the Turkish territory, after being vaccinated against polio and measles.

An estimated 1.7 million Syrian refugees have found shelter in Turkey as of April 2015, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, UNHRC. The UN's refugee agency suggests 804,000 more Syrians may cross into Turkey as refugees by the end of 2015' as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levants, or ISIL, poses a security risk for those living in the areas near the Turkish-Syrian border.
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Syrian Kurdish YPG threatens Arab populations with coalition airstirkes

Published 18 hours ago

After seizing the town of Tel Abyad near the Turkish border, YPG fighters, who have been accused of ethnic cleansing, have reportedly been threatening local people with coalition strikes, a group of Syrian activists has claimed

The Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG) have been alleged to be systemically attacking Arab and Turkmen residents of Tel Abyad and setting dozens of villages into fire, Anadolu Agency reported based on a claim in a report, published by a group of Syrians. The group claimed that Kurdish fighters attack Arabs, confiscate property and force them to leave the towns that they capture. The expansion of Kurdish influence in Syria, however, comes at a price, according to various reports, which indicate that Arab and Turkmen populations in the regions have been targeted by the Kurdish forces.

One of these reports is the recently released 'Save Cezire canton from YPG' named campaign, according to which YPG militia have been appropriating Syrian Arabs' houses in El Haseke and placing others in them. One of the officials of the campaign, Ali el-Haris told Anadolu Agency reporter: "There have been many violations in El Haseke's suburbs. Rasulayn village, its rural areas, and southwestern areas have been evacuated." Haris claimed that YPG militia has joined forces with the Syrian regime and massacred the people in the regions they have occupied. He said, "YPG forces are threatening the people with giving their villages' coordination to U.S.-led coalition for their bombardment in case the villagers resist against them."

According to the report, 60 people have been killed, and 80 houses have been burned down in YPG's 22 February 22, 2014 dated attacks in El Haseke's villages. The report has also claimed that tens of people from the Tel Berrak village, among which were children and women, have been put into YPG prisons, under allegations that they were ISIS militants. Among these, five have died in the prison, according to the report. Also, Tel Hamis district's Arab villages have suffered various attacks in YPG's March 2014 operation, the report said. In these attacks, the houses have been reportedly plundered, and the people trying to flee have been shot down.

After Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants lost the battle in Tal Abyad against the PKK-linked PYD and its armed wing, the People's Protection Unit (YPG), ISIS has intensified attacks on Azaz, which is near the Turkish border and controlled by the Free Syrian Army FSA. Azaz is strategically important for moderate rebel groups for keeping the supply line with Aleppo and Idlib alive. If it is captured by ISIS, the rebels will have received a blow to their recent advances both in Idlib and in Aleppo's north.

Although the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition has conducted aerial attacks on the militant group in Raqqa and Tal Abyad, there has been no attack near Azaz. FSA brigades that were pushed back had to retreat as ISIS militants were eagerly fighting after fleeing from Tal Abyad. Some pro-FSA activists on Twitter asked why the U.S. has not hit ISIS targets near Azaz. Some activists shared posts saying that the U.S. does not launch airstrikes when the FSA fights ISIS but immediately hits the targets if the YPG is battling ISIS.

While the battles have intensified, Turkey is preparing for a new wave of refugees, as thousands may flee if ISIS captures Azaz. Turkey is also concerned about the YPG's advance in the region, as a new de facto Kurdish state may be created by the PKK and its Syrian branch. Turkey considers the two groups a national security threat. Turkey accepted thousands of refugees after the YPG captured Tal Abyad. According to activists reporting from close to the border, the YPG is blocking the return of refugees to Tal Abyad. However, some pro-YPG sources claimed that Kurdish fighters welcomed the local people.

A refugee who fled to Turkey from Tal Abyad said, "The bombing was very intense. I was scared that a blockade might be established, or that the YPG might kick us out or might accuse us of supporting ISIS. I read many news reports that documented systematic ethnic cleansing campaigns against Arabs in the areas now controlled by the YPG." Many other comments from different refugees have been reported by several media outlets as well.

As part of its Syrian policy, the U.S. directly supports the armed Kurdish factions. U.S. officials consider as the PYD and the YPG battle against ISIS as legitimate, even though the PYD is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which is on the terror list of many countries, including the U.S., EU and Turkey. The PKK has engaged in a long war against Turkey with the aim of separating Turkey's southeast to establish an independent Kurdistan that will contain Kurdish areas in Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey began a reconciliation process by investing in the area and presenting democratization packages.

Despite the ongoing peaceful era, which has recently run into trouble with the PKK organizing violent protests and killing innocent people, Turkey considers the PKK and its factions as a threat, and demands its allies regard the concerns of the organization.
Kurds have become a significant part of the war and gained the capability to change the balance of the war after Kobani, a Kurdish town, was besieged by ISIS last year. Unified Kurdish factions defeated the militant group. The PYD, which allied with the Syrian regime and opposes the Syrian revolution, has begun allying with some local armed groups loyal to the FSA.

*Didem Atakan contributed to the report
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Kurds triumph in latest advance, but fears grow among other Syrians

By Roy Gutman

McClatchy Foreign StaffJune 19, 2015  
ISTANBUL — An enormous yellow flag with a red star in the middle hangs over the main square in Tel Abyad, the Syrian border town just seized from Islamic State extremists by a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia.

For Syrian Kurds, it’s a symbol of triumph. Other Syrians, though, fear the flag is the harbinger of expulsion and possibly the breakup of Syria.

Aided by U.S. airstrikes, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, took over the strategic town Tuesday after weeks of fighting in surrounding villages. But there was no battle of Tel Abyad, for the Islamic State forces departed without a fight, U.S. officials said.

State Department officials called the fall of the town a “significant victory.”

There’s little question that the Kurds’ advance has closed the gateway for foreign volunteers flocking to join the Islamic State, whose self-styled capital is in Raqqa, 60 miles to the south. And few Syrians, no matter their origin, will miss the black flag of the extremists, nor their harsh rules and brutal punishments.

But they also fear the Kurdish militia. As the YPG approached Tel Abyad, Arabs and Turkmen, who comprise 90 percent of the town’s population, fled to other Syrian villages or to Turkey, which registered 25,000 refugees in one week, adding to the estimated 2 million-plus already there.

The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has long sought an independent Kurdish state and had been designated a terrorist group in the U.S., the European Union and Turkey.

The new arrivals in Turkey told reporters they feared that non-Kurds will be mistreated or expelled. This already has occurred in nearby Hasaka province and near Kobani, the Kurdish town 35 miles west of Tel Abyad that was save from Islamic State capture last autumn by a massive wave of U.S. airstrikes.

With U.S. help, the Kurdish militia now controls over 90 percent of neighboring Hasaka province, U.S. officials say, and there is now a land link between Qamishli in the east, the most populous Kurdish city in northern Syria, and Kobani. Only Afrin, in northwest Syria, remains unconnected.

The YPG and its parent organization, the PKK, favor creation of a Kurdish state of Rojava, or West Kurdistan. Kurdish gains have raised tensions with the hundreds of thousands of Arabs, Turkmen and other minorities who to do not share the dream of a Kurdish state.

The Syrian opposition coalition, which groups the political forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, announced Thursday in Istanbul that it is sending a fact-finding committee to look into allegations of “ethnic cleansing” in Tel Abyad and surrounding villages.

The Obama administration, which has used the YPG as its “silver bullet” for fighting the Islamic State in Syria, this week voiced public concern about the Kurdish militia’s treatment of non-Kurds.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that forces fighting the Islamic State should make “concerted efforts to protect local populations and property and secure the human rights of all citizens.” That message is one “that we continue to deliver to all of our partners,” he said.

The U.S. Central Command, which coordinates airstrikes with the Kurdish militia, has told the group that it will not tolerate “any inhumanity, even perceived,” said a U.S. official who was not authorized to speak on the record to journalists.

Kurdish officials have acknowledged indirectly that most civilians have left Tel Abyad, saying they will be welcome to return as soon as the militia has cleared it of mines. Salih Muslim, the co-president of the Democratic Union Party, the political wing of the Kurdish militia, promised in an interview with a Turkish newspaper to set up a local parliament and then promised that all Kurdish militia forces would leave the city.

That could be a long time off. Muslim said Kobani still has not been cleared of mines, and 50 people there have been killed by mines.

The rising tensions between Kurds and other Syrians, which can be tracked on social media, already have caused a rift in the Syrian Journalists Union, set up in 2012 in opposition to the Assad regime. Kurdish journalist Massud Ikko, the deputy chairman, posted a notice this week on Facebook that he would seek a federal government in Damascus or a separate state for Kurds, and he compared the Kurds to the Palestinians, who he said deserve their own state. At least four journalists quit immediately in protest.

Still to be explained is why the Islamic State decided to conserve its forces after its dramatic takeovers of Ramadi, the capital of Sunni northern Iraq, and Tadmur and Palmyra, strategically important towns in eastern Syria.

According to the U.S. official, prior to entering Tel Abyad, the Kurdish militia sent an advance party to determine the level of resistance it would face, only to learn that the Islamic State was retreating en masse. As the Islamic State fighters moved out, the Kurdish militia moved in, said the official.

One possible reason the Islamic State abandoned Tel Abyad was to avoid turning it into a killing field for its forces, as occurred in Kobani.

Syrian observers noted that the first signs of an Islamic State pullout from Tel Abyad coincided with a deployment of its forces near Azaz, 110 miles to the west. There, in a region where the U.S. military rarely conducts airstrikes, the Islamic State mounted an offensive apparently aimed at closing off a principal border crossing for supplying northern Syria, including weapons destined for moderate rebel forces.

McClatchy special correspondents Mousab Alhamadee in Istanbul, Duygu Guvenc in Ankara and Zakaria Zakaria in Sanliurfa, Turkey, contributed.
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Voir également : Frontière turco-syrienne : les YPG empêchent des réfugiés syriens de retourner à Tell Abyad

Une quinzaine de groupes rebelles syriens accusent le PYD-YPG de nettoyage ethnique à Tell Abyad

Tell Abyad : "inquiétude" des Américains après les témoignages de réfugiés arabes et turcomans quant au nettoyage ethnique accompli par le PYD-YPG

Selon un responsable de l'ASL, l'offensive de l'EI sur Azaz a pour but de favoriser l'expansion du PYD au détriment de la rébellion syrienne

En 2013, Salih Muslim (leader du PYD) annonçait son intention d'expulser les "colons" arabes

Syrie : le PYD-YPG a chassé des milliers de civils arabes en incendiant leurs maisons

La Coalition nationale syrienne condamne les crimes du PYD contre les populations arabes et kurdes à Hassakeh
Ras al-Ayn : le PYD-YPG provoque l'exode des populations arabes

Selon Siraj al-Din al-Hasakawi (activiste syrien), les YPG veulent modifier la carte démographique de la région d'Hassaka    

Le gouvernement intérimaire syrien condamne les exactions des YPG à Hassaka
Sham News Network confirme que les YPG ont incendié des villages arabes à Tall Hamis

Tall Hamis : les YPG pillent et incendient des villages arabes

Carnegie Endowment : "il existe des rapports sur des civils arabes fuyant l'avancée de l'YPG plus au Sud"
Syrie : le PKK-YPG tue des dizaines de civils à Hasaka
La Coalition nationale syrienne maintient que le PKK-YPG a commis un massacre de civils dans la région d'Hasaka
13 personnes d'une même famille tuées dans le village de Matiniya : un nouveau massacre de civils par le PKK-YPG ?

L'opposition syrienne (dont fait partie le Conseil national kurde) accuse le PYD-YPG de nettoyage ethnique
Irak : diverses sources confirment l'existence d'exactions perpétrées par le PKK-YPG dans des villages arabes