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Kurds deny vague reports of Al-Hasakah massacre

LAMESTREAM MEDIA: One day after the PYD announced a campaign […]

23 September 2014


LAMESTREAM MEDIA: One day after the PYD announced a campaign on September 13 to drive the Islamic State (IS) from the Kurdish-majority area of Tel Hamees in the northeast outskirts of Al-Hasakah province, news of a Kurdish-led massacre in two towns around Tel Hamees swept the mainstream Sunni Arab news media.

It is one of the perils of reading the Arabic news media; poorly sourced and vague reports quickly get shared despite little evidence or basis in fact within the articles.

In the case of an Al-Jazeera published on September 14, the article opens by saying “sources” tell the satellite channel that the PYD committed a “massacre” in the northeast of Al-Hasakah province. Jazeera then went on to cite “activists” saying that the massacre had taken place, with no direct quotations and no names mentioned in the article.

 “Militias with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, loyal to the Kurdistan Democratic Party, conducted a ‘massacre’ which claimed 45 civilian lives, including women and children” in two villages in the Tel Hamees region after driving out IS forces, al-Jazeera reported on September 14.

Pro-opposition Siraj Press’s report was hardly better, citing a “local source” as the foundation to accuse the PYD of the massacre September 14. Kurdish forces in Tel Hamees directly targeted family homes with RPGs, and summarily executed nine civilians according to the unnamed source.

Meanwhile, local activists published photos on social media websites reportedly displaying the massacre’s aftermath, such as the photo above of a devastated village in Tel Hameem under the caption “PYD pigs burn Muslims’ houses in the Tel Hamees countryside, simply because they’re Arab.”

Kurdish forces were quick to respond to the accusations, chalking them up to sinister intentions by news outlets to drum up anti-Kurdish sentiment.

“The news from Al-Jazeera…and other stations, falls under the framework of a blind and detestable war on the Kurdish people, and an attempt o sow discord (fitna) between them and the Arab peoples,” the Kurdistan Democratic Party said in a September 15 statement.   

Al-Jazeera’s report was released, the statement said, four days after Kurdish and Free Syrian Army forces formed an alliance named “Euphrates Volcano” to combat the Islamic State across A-Raqqa and Aleppo provinces, saying that the timing suggests an attempt to hamper the alliance and drum up support for “extremist religious ideologies.”

Redor Khalil, official spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, said that IS forces used civilians in the Tel Hameem areas as human shields, preventing families from exiting war zones. This is the reason for mass civilian casualties, he was quoted as saying by the pro-opposition news site All4Syria on September 15.

-September 23, 2014

-Photo courtesy of @SwedenPress41.

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