SDF-controlled areas in September 2021 | Nearly 30 people killed in separate attacks, while deteriorating living conditions ignite popular protests • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SDF-controlled areas in September 2021 | Nearly 30 people killed in separate attacks, while deteriorating living conditions ignite popular protests

Areas under the control of Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) experienced, in November 2021, scores of incidents of security disorder and violations against human rights. In this context, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored and tracked all key developments in SDF-held areas in the month of November.



Crimes and ISIS attacks leave more casualties


In November 2021, ISIS continued its attacks in areas under the control of SDF and the Autonomous Administration in north and north-east Syria region, as ISIS cells carried out several attacks and attempted assassinations using various methods, including shooting, using sharp tools and planting IEDs and landmines throughout SDF-held areas. On the other hand, SDF launched periodical security campaigns, with Coalition support, targeting ISIS cells and individuals accused of “dealing with these cells”. However, such campaigns remained timid and ineffective and could not put an end to ISIS escalating operations in the region.


SOHR activists documented over 29 attacks in November carried out by ISIS cells in SDF-held areas in Deir Ezzor, Al-Hasakah, Aleppo and Al-Raqqah, including armed attacks and explosions. According to SOHR statistics, the number of people killed in these attacks during September reached eight. The breakdown of fatalities is as follows: 15 civilians, including two women and two little girls, and seven members of SDF-backed military formations.


SOHR also documented other attacks and murders in SDF-held areas in the past month, which left seven people dead, including a woman and two children. Further details of these incidents could be summarised as follows:


  • A child was found dead in a barn in Al-Baghouz town, the last ISIS stronghold in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. According to SOHR sources, the child went missing for 24 hours, before he was found lying on the ground of the barn near his house with a rope around his neck and marks of severe beating on his body. Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounded the circumstances of this murder.


  • A doctor and his sister were killed in unknown circumstances in the house of the doctor in Al-Raqqah city.


  • A little girl was killed after being hit with an indiscriminate gunshot during a fight between two families in Al-Shuhayl town in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.


  • A young man from Idlib province was stabbed to death by unknown individual in the area of the “Youth Residence” in Al-Hasakah city.


  • A young man was killed by indiscriminate gunfire during family fights in Gharanij town in eastern Deir Ezzor.


  • A civilian died at the hands of members of Turkish Jandarma who arrested and tortured him, while he was attempting to sneak into Turkey in Al-Aradah village in the north of Abu Rasin district in Al-Hasakah province.




Security campaigns


On the other hand, Syria Democratic Forces, backed by the International Coalition, launched frequent security campaigns in November in an attempt to put an end to the ISIS escalating operations in Deir Ezzor and Al-Hasakah. According to SOHR statistics, 19 people, including ISIS commanders, were arrested during these campaigns, for “belonging to and communicating with ISIS cells” as well as other charges and accusations, in Deir Ezzor province, Al-Shaddadi city and countryside in Al-Hasakah province and other towns and villages in north and east Syria region. It is worth noting that some of these people were released, while the others still remain in the SDF custody.


Meanwhile, International Coalition planes threw leaflets in the eastern Deir Ezzor countryside, asking civilians to provide any information they may have about an ISIS commander called “Munaf Ali Al-A’al”, who participated in manufacturing explosives, planting IEDs and attacking SDF and International Coalition. According to the information mentioned in the leaflets, Munaf Ali Al-A’al lived in Al-Zarr village east of Deir Ezzor, while International Coalition urged the residents to come forward with any information that might lead to his arrest.



Turkish military escalation


Military escalation by Turkish forces continued in areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration in November, as these areas experienced almost-daily bombardment which was concentrated in Tel Tamr and Abu Rasin countryside in the northern countryside of Al-Hasakah and Ain Issa countryside in north Al-Raqqah countryside. This bombardment coincided with media reports of an imminent military operation in SDF-held areas.


On November 12, SOHR activists reported a meeting in Al-Raqqah City between delegation of International Coalition Forces and SDF leaders. The meeting focused on the Turkish threats and the media reports on a Turkish military operation in areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration in north-east Syria and the Russian role in this sort of propaganda.


According to SOHR, the International Coalition confirmed to SDF commanders that they would side with SDF and maintain their troops in the region. In addition, the Coalition delegation confirmed that the reports on Turkish military operation came as a part of the Turkish-Russian media war as the Russians sought after more gains. Also, the Coalition delegation visited Al-Raqqah Civil Council and met with its officials.



Popular protests


Also, in November, a state of discontent prevailed among the residents over the worsening services and living conditions across the areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration. In this context, SOHR sources reported on November 4, a protest in Al-Sh’aytat area near Al-Qahawi junction in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. It is worth noting that medics and teachers participated in the protest, calling for improvement of living situation in the region, appointment of teachers, providing of medical supplies and ambulances in hospitals, and discharge of corrupt officials in local councils in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.


While on November 8, SOHR activists reported further protests in the SDF-controlled town of Al-Hessan in west Deir Ezzor province over the suspension of subsidized flour by the Autonomous Administration, which led to severe crisis in the bakeries. Meanwhile, the protestors blocked the main roads in the town, expressing their discontent.


Similarly, on November 17, Observatory sources reported that “Humanitarian Assistance Department of the UN High Commissioner” which had provided assistance to Al-Shuhayl surgical hospital in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor in SDF-held areas, informed officials in charge of the hospital of its intention of suspending its support as of the following month. According to SOHR sources, the hospital provided free medical service, including surgeries, to nearly 300,000 people in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.


Via the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the region’s residents appealed to all international and humanitarian organizations to continue supporting the hospital as it provided free services to a large number of people in light of the deteriorating medical and living situation in that area. The residents also called for staging demonstrations on the following day in order to express their anger and disapproval ofthe decision of suspending support provided to the hospital.


In the same vein, the European organization of “Syria Relief” issued on November 19 a decision to suspend the support it provided to the “Maternity and Paediatric Hospital” which provided free medical services to the residents of Al-Raqqah city.


According to SOHR sources, the hospital examined nearly 10,000 children and women every month and carried out nearly 450 caesarean sections a month, averaging 15 operations a day. Moreover, the hospital contained a children clinic, a suite with 40 beds, 16 neonatal intensive care units, a radiography system, a mammography system for the early detection of breast cancer, a pharmacy, a laboratory and oxygen concentrators.


The suspension of support therefore would lead to a humanitarian disaster, as most of the residents in the city could not bear the costs of treatment in private hospitals. Meanwhile, the medical team decided to work in the hospital for free until the end of 2021, hoping that the hospital would get the munch needed support.


While on November 22, SOHR activists monitored a protest by dozens of residents of Al-Raqqah city, which is under the control of SDF and the International Coalition, in front of the “Maternity and Paediatric Hospital”, where protesters expressed their anger and discontent over the suspension of aid provided to the hospital which provided free medical services to civilians.



Ongoing recruitment of children by “Al-Shabiba Al-Thawriyah”


Despite the many calls of families for putting an end to the recruitment of their children, “Al-Shabiba Al-Thawriyah” (Revolutionary Youth) has been increasingly recruiting and involving children in armed conflict in areas controlled by the “Autonomous Administration” and SDF, disregarding the laws and international covenants that prohibit the exploitation of children.


In this context, SOHR sources reported that “Al-Shabiba Al-Thawriyah” recruited a boy known by his initials as H. N. From Kika village in Amouda countryside, taking the 13-yaer-old boy to its camp in Al-Qamishli countryside. “Al-Shabiba Al-Thawriyah” also recruited a boy known by his initials as M. H. From Shaikh Maksoud neighbourhood in Aleppo city.


Al-Shabiba Al-Thawriyah also recruited three minor girls known by their initials as “A. A.”, “H. P.” and “A. K.” from Amouda city in Al-Hasakah countryside. Furthermore, a minor girl from Plisia village in Al-Malikiyah (Dayrek) countryside was recruited by Al-Shabiba Al-Thawriyah two months earlier, according to SOHR sources.


We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, renew our demands to both “Autonomous Administration” and SDF, the effective holders of power in that region, to stop taking advantage of disputes of children with their families and put an end to recruitment of children in the ranks of Al-Shabiba Al-Thawriyah. We also call upon “UNICEF” and all organizations concerned with the rights of the children to intervene immediately and put an end to violations against children and the recruitment of children into armed groups and to bring all minor recruits back to their families.