March 2, 2015
By Ammar Hamou, Mohammad al-Shamdin and Brent Eng
AMMAN: Kurdish People's Protection Units [YPG] reportedly burned a number of houses in Arab villages on Sunday in Al-Hasakah province, two days after capturing the nearby town of Tel Hamees from the Islamic State, reported pro-opposition Sham News Network.
YPG fighters torched an unnamed number of houses in the roughly two dozen villages around Tel Hamees after they had already won them, Ali al-Harith, a journalist in Al-Hasakah, told Syria Direct on Monday.
“If the villages were burned in the fighting, then why did the burning happen [Sunday] morning when the battle was finished days ago?” asked al-Harith, confirming Sham Network's report and refuting other activists who said that the fires were the unintentional result of missile fire.
Smoke rises from burning houses as YPG fighter poses. Photo courtesy of Eldorar.
The official YPG Twitter account published photographs of its fighters posing in front of villages near Tel Hamees as smoke rose from houses in the background on Sunday in apparent celebration for their victories over IS.
“Today we take revenge for the blood of our brothers,” reads one caption.
“A direct picture taken minutes ago of the destruction and burning of the village Husseini where many of our comrades were matryed," reads another.
The photographs were later deleted from the account.
The house burnings come in the wake of the YPG’s successful takeover of Tel Hamees on Friday after a week-long campaign, supported by airstrikes from the US-led international coalition against the former IS-held town, reported the pro-Kurdish news agency ARA News.
YPG sets fire to Arab homes. Photo courtesy of Mohannad Al-Katee.
Tel Hamees, located south of the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in Al-Hasakah, had been under IS control for more than a year and was considered a strategic node for the jihadist group in the province.
Over the past week, YPG and regime forces have been fighting with IS for the more than 200 villages surrounding Tel Hamees.
While YPG representatives have been clear that its forces have succeeded in its larger campaign against IS in the province because of the US-led airstrikes, pro-regime news agencies claim that government forces have also participated in the attack.
“Units of the Syrian army and armed forces killed a number of [IS] terrorists in the eastern province of Al-Hasakah,” reported Lebanese pro-regime news agency Al-Manar on Sunday.
The YPG and its political wing, the PYD, have maintained a tacit agreement with the regime in Al-Hasakah, where they jointly rule over the eponymous provincial capital.
YPG and regime forces have previously coordinated to battle both IS and FSA-affiliated factions in the province.