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Kurdish Situation Report: November 16th, 2015

silvan kurd turkey

Welcome to The Kurdish Situation Report, a weekly update on the latest news coming from the four Kurdish regions in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The Kurdish Situation Report is co-produced by the Washington Kurdish Institute and The Kurdish Project.

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Points of interest for November 16th, 2015

Corresponding locations for this week’s news stories are numbered above.

Turkey (Bakur or Northern Kurdistan)

silvan kurd turkey

Mourners carry the coffin of a civilian who was killed by Turkish security forces in Silvan in the southeastern Diyarbakir province. Credit: Reuters.

1) On the ninth day of the siege and curfew in Silvan, a military operation has been launched on the city in Turkey’s Amed (Diyarbakir) province. Silvan’s Kurdish-majority neighborhoods of Tekel, Konak and Mescit reportedly have been destroyed by the Turkish military “to discourage self-rule.”

A youth by the name of Süleyman Güleç was killed in the offensive, and the bombardments by Turkish police and military got heavier late Wednesday evening.

The female co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), Figen Yüksekdağ, and a group of HDP deputies were physically battered by Turkish police on Wednesday. The police were blocking Yüksekdağ and her deputies from accessing the Tekel neighborhood in Silvan. The attack left multiple politicians badly injured.

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas described the Silvan resistance as “a fight to determine the status of Kurdish people,” and encouraged everyone should see this reality in this way.

On the 12th day of the siege and military crackdown, Turkish military troops and tanks withdrew from Silvan’s neighborhoods. News outlets report locals returning to a “city in ruins.” The police and military crackdown occurred after the male and female co-mayors declared “self-rule” in the district.

2) The European Commission released a report that stressed the importance of peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdish minority in its borders.

Peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) came to a halt this summer, despite positive developments on the issue in the past few years.

According to the Commission, the new government–formed after November’s repeat parliamentary elections–will need to address urgent priorities including preventing human rights violations, restoring independence of the judiciary, and a deteriorating security situation.

Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan)

syrian ypg ypj kurds

Turkey claims that Syrian Kurds are “outside the scope of the current military effort.” Credit: BBC

3) The Turkish Army has launched several cross-border attacks on the People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Kobani and Girê Spî (Tal Abyad). The first attacks took place on October 24th, when the Turkish military used heavy weaponry to shell Kurdish positions.

On November 10th, between 10 and 11am local time, Turkish military forces – utilizing A4 heavy weapons – launched an attack on the village of Charikli in Kobani’s western borderlines with Turkey.

4) The mother of a Canadian who was killed while fighting the Islamic State says that she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to bring her son’s body home. Valerie Carder says that repatriating John Robert Gallagher’s body is her priority now, but for the time being, all she can do is wait. Gallagher, 32, was killed in Syria fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on Wednesday.

5) 500 youths in Girê Spî (Tal Abyad) joined the forces of Brigade of Siwar al-Raqqa. Siwar al-Raqqa is one of the 13 armed groups within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that are fighting ISIS in Syria. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) are also an important part of the SDF.

6) Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated Al-Hawl, a town in Syria, southeast of Hasakah, as well as the village of Shelala. The SDF launched its operation two weeks ago to liberate towns and villages around Hasakah from ISIS.

Iraq (Bashur or Iraqi Kurdistan)

Kurdish coalition liberates Sinjar (Shingal) from ISIS control.

Kurdish coalition liberates Sinjar (Shingal) from ISIS control. Credit: Twitter

7) On November 13th, 2015 a massive operation was launched to liberate Shingal (the Kurdish name for Sinjar) from ISIS. The liberating force was a coalition of 7,500 Peshmerga fighters, 800 People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, 500 People’s Defense Forces (HPG) fighters, and 500 Yazidi guards.

Sinjar has been considered a strategic town for the war against ISIS because it sits along a key logistics route between Iraq and Syria. ‘Operation Free Sinjar’ was launched with direct air support from U.S.-led coalition. Photos and videos of the operation are available here.

8) A mass grave believed to contain the remains of more than 70 members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority was discovered east of Sinjar town by Kurdish forces who defeated Daesh, (also known as the self-proclaimed Islamic State) militants in the area, the mayor and locals have said.

The insurgents, who overran the Yazidi heartland of Sinjar in northwest Iraq in August 2014, have systematically killed, captured and enslaved thousands of Sinjar’s inhabitants, in what the United Nations has said may have constituted attempted genocide.

9) People’s Protection Defense (YPG) fighters have rescued two Yazidi girls from ISIS during the ‘Operation Free Sinjar’. After Shingal town had been liberated on the evening of November 13th, two young Yezidi girls were rescued in an area near Tıl Kasap. The girls had been in ISIS captivity since August 3rd, 2014.

10) Peshmerga forces and Shia popular mobilization leaders in Tuz Khurmato (a town south of Kirkuk) reached a ceasefire after clashes took place between Shia popular mobilization forces and Kurdish security guards. The clashes began earlier last week after a convoy of Shia militias refused to stop at a Kurdish security controlled checkpoint in Tuz.

The clashes lasted four days, and resulted in a total of 17 deaths and 65 injuries. In a press conference, Shalal Abdul, the mayor of Tuz town called for a bilateral ceasefire, and for the release all civilians captives.

Iran (Rojhelat or Eastern Kurdistan)

Abdullah Mohtadi, a Kurdish leader in Iran, calls for a deeper look at human rights and calls Iranian regime 'oppressors and liars.' Credit: IBT

Kurdish-Iranian Abdullah Mohtadi calls Iranian regime ‘oppressors and liars.’ Credit: IBT

11) Mr. Abdullah Mohtadi, the Secretary General of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan told the Washington Kurdish Institute during an interview that “the rate of execution has risen during [my] time in office, repression of the Kurdish people is [as bad] as it has always been, and I don’t see any real, tangible change.”

Mohtadi added, “now is the time to focus on issues other than Iran’s nuclear ambition, most importantly, its human rights abuses.”

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