Asayish to investigate shooting that killed Deir al-Zor Civil official’s chauffeur
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish-led authorities in Syria’s Raqqa governorate on Saturday announced they will investigate an apparent assassination attempt on Deir al-Zor Civil Council head Ghassan Al-Yousif in the countryside of Raqqa.
The shooting occurred at a checkpoint on Saturday and led to the death of the official’s chauffeur. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported then that Yousif had survived an assassination attempt, with initial suspicion falling on Islamic State remnants.
“It was made clear later that it was a friendly fire incident from the Asayish who reacted to the 3 cars of the co-chair of Deir-ez-Zor Civil Council not slowing down while driving through their checkpoint in the Karamah area,” Charles Flynn, a Syria-based researcher at the Rojava Information Centre (RIC) told Kurdistan 24.
Yousef is the most prominent figure in Deir al-Zor governorate, according to Syria expert Omar Abu Layla, the executive director of Deir Ez Zor 24.
“He did not leave the governorate. He has received a lot of threats over the recent weeks, amidst many assassinations that targeted tribal dignitaries, academics, and prominent figures,” he wrote on Twitter.
But the Asayish said in a statement that the military traffic police fired on the convoy of three cars that was speeding through their checkpoint in the town of Karama in the Raqqa countryside.
According to initial testimonies of members of the security checkpoint arrested by the Asayish, they fired on the convoy because it did not slow down.
“This led to the martyrdom of a driver of a car and the injury of three others,” the Asayish said.
“Soon, investigations will start by the Internal Security Forces into the event. All the members present at the military checkpoint were detained” as part of the probe.
The Asayish announced that all the personnel involved have been detained and are under investigation, with fears that the so-called Islamic State has infiltrated their ranks.
“This incident can also be explained by the fact that they are Internal security forces under intense pressure from security threats in the region,” Charles Flynn, Rojava Information Centre (RIC) analyst added.
“This month saw a resurgence of ISIS activity in this area, specifically targeting Asayish; 5 of them were killed and multiple wounded in sleeper-cells attacks. One judge and a mayor were wounded in targeted assassination attempts as well.”
Open-source researcher Caki Akyuz added that several Asayish officers have been targeted and killed at checkpoints in Karamah in January. “Karamah has seen low-level [ISIS] cell activity for some time now, and this month it has increased,” he told Kurdistan 24.
Attacks have targeted senior figures in the Karamah recently, including a judge and the mayor, according to Akyuz. “Both survived the attacks, but there is a sense of security alert in the city.”
Editing by Khrush Najari