Ghweiran residents protest regime takeover amidst looting fears


September 17, 2014

EMINENT DOMAIN: Displaced residents of the formerly rebel-held neighborhood of Ghweiran in Al-Hasakah city marched Wednesday in protest of Tuesday’s joint Kurdish PYD and regime takeover of the district, demanding that the regime forces leave the neighborhood and allow them back in.

After over a month of fighting, Ghweiran rebels, mostly composed of local fighters and former Free Syrian Army commanders, agreed to cede control of the besieged neighborhood Tuesday in exchange for safe passage out of the city. The regime and PYD share joint control over the provincial capital.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of displaced Ghweiran residents who were forced to evacuate the district when violence escalated have been trapped outside of their homes.

Many of those citizens gathered in front of the Provincial Administrative Building close to the Ghweiran neighborhood Wednesday, calling for the regime to allow them to return to their homes, according to this picture published by the local pro-opposition news agency Hasakah News Center.

Syrian army soldiers blocked the path into the neighborhood and fired shots into the air, citing the “lack of full control over the neighborhood,” Hasakah News Center added.

In previous situations in which rebels were transported out of a besieged area, such as Old Homs, regime soldiers reportedly looted homes in the neighborhoods while the residents were trapped outside. 

The rebels’ exit from Ghweiran follows increased regime and PYD bombing over the past several days after a breakdown in negotiations between the two sides.

“There was an agreement based on a 24-hour grace period in which the rebels would keep their light weapons, but the rebels demanded that they be allowed to leave with all of their weapons,” reported pro-opposition media Siraj Press.

In response, the PYD and regime fired over 300 missiles into the neighborhood Monday, according to the  Hasakah Media Center.

Local tribal leaders were able to salvage the negotiations and the rebel fighters, pressured by the escalated bombing campaign, agreed to be escorted to areas outside of the city.

-September 17, 2014

-Photo courtesy of Amer Alhaskawi.

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