August 14, 2014
Regime forces and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) bombarded the holdout district of Ghweiran—where many residents are former FSA fighters and sympathetic to the revolution—in al-Hasakah city Monday night and Tuesday morning after an apparent attempt to storm the neighborhood over the weekend.
These recent attacks suggest an attempt to bring the entire city of al-Hasakah under one banner. The Islamic State (IS) captured the al-Milbiya regiment, located 10 km south of the city, on July 27th, and began firing mortars into the city after that.
Residents of Ghweiran call for help against regime, PYD bombardment.
The regime and Kurdish forces might also be afraid that Ghweiran, which contains at least a small number of IS sympathizers, could turn into a fifth column as IS moves closer to the provincial capital.
What is undisputed is that Gheirwan has been hit hard over the past week.
“Because of the intense, indiscriminate bombing of residences, nearly half of residents were forced to flee,” Omar Abdulaziz, an activist in Ghweiran, tells Syria Direct’s Osama Abu Zeid.
Q: Who is in control of Ghweiran? Who are the fighters inside the neighborhood?
Ghweiran is under the control of its residents, who are opposed to the Assad regime. There are approximately 50,000 residents, including a number of displaced persons from other cities including Deir e-Zor and a-Raqqa.
As for the fighters present in the neighborhood, they’re not organized very well. They’re made up of neighborhood residents who fall into three different categories:
1) Fighters from the remains of Islamist groups, such the Islamic Front, al-Farouq, and others.
2) Fighters from FSA brigades who were loyal to the military councils and whose brigades disbanded because of a lack of support, leading fighters to return to their homes with their weapons to defend themselves.
3) Those who have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State [no more than a handful of people].
Q: How is the humanitarian situation in the neighborhood? How are residents able to leave?
Because of the barbarism of the PYD, because the neighborhood is enclosed by a number of checkpoints manned by Kurdish militias, and because of the intense, indiscriminate bombing of residences, around 45 percent of residents were forced to flee, some towards neighboring areas and some towards Turkey and the outskirts of al-Hasakah.
Q: Kurdish militias consider the rebels of Ghweiran the aggressors, saying that they killed and kidnapped elements of the YPG who were on a reconnaissance mission, who were lost and entered Ghweiran by mistake. What is your take on that?
This is indeed their story…but how were they lost, considering they know where their checkpoints are and where the rebel checkpoints are, and considering they know that a large number of their own checkpoints are stationed around the neighborhood? How did these checkpoints let them enter Ghweiran by mistake?
Q: But do you think it’s reasonable that a single car manned by the PYD entered in order to storm the neighborhood?
No, not in order to storm the neighborhood. They have done this previously in Tel Barak—they have a car enter with a number of soldiers, loaded with arms, which travels into the depths of the neighborhood, then opens fire from behind, in order to sow confusion within the neighborhood while other forces mount an assault.
Q: In what direction do you see the center of al-Hasakah city moving towards, seeing as a number of factions are trying to gain control of it?
The situation in al-Hasakah is moving towards IS control, because they’re the most powerful. The PYD presence in the city center is temporary—they know that if the IS took control of the city, that would represent a great danger to them.
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