SDF official condemns youth throwing stones at coalition convoy in Syria

Coalition patrol outside the Hemze Beg village, northeast Syria, February 17, 2021. (Wladimir van Wilgenburg/Kurdistan 24)
Coalition patrol outside the Hemze Beg village, northeast Syria, February 17, 2021. (Wladimir van Wilgenburg/Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Syrian Democratic Forces’ public relations head, Redur Xelil, on Monday condemned a group of Kurdish youth who threw stones at a US-led coalition convoy near the town of Al-Jawadiyah (Cil Axa) in northern Syria the day before.

“The [Revolutionary] Youth Movement's throwing of stones at a patrol of the International Coalition, and insulting a routine patrol while accompanied by the Syrian Democratic Forces , is irresponsible,” he said in a statement on his Facebook page.

“It distorts the image of the Autonomous Administration [of North and East Syria] under which the Revolutionary Youth works according to the Autonomous Administration laws.”

“The Autonomous Administration and its competent institutions must prevent these actions and hold the perpetrators accountable,” he underlined.

In a video published by Xelil, youth in Al-Jawadiyah, located in Hasakah province in northern Syria, are seen hurling stones at coalition vehicles while shouting “long live leader Apo (Ocalan),” a reference to the imprisoned long-time leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The protest is most likely related to the ongoing fighting between the PKK and Turkey in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq that has displaced civilians and emptied villages.

The bombings have killed dozens of civilians unaffiliated to the PKK, caused extensive damage to farms and killed locals’ livestock.

Turkey, along with its allies NATO and the United States, consider the PKK a terrorist organization.

The website Nuce Ciwan claimed the Kurdish youth group threw stones and water bottles at the coalition patrol due to the ongoing “international silence” over Turkish attacks on the areas of Zap, Haftanin and Avasin in Duhok province.

The Kurdish Tevgera Ciwanen Soresger (Revolutionary Youth Movement) in the past has been accused of recruiting children and attacking offices of the Syrian Kurdish National Council (KNC), a rival of the dominant Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria. The group has denied these accusations.

The latest incident came amidst a visit to northeastern Syria by a top US delegation on Sunday.

In October 2019, US military vehicles were pelted with potatoes and stones while passing through the city of Qamishlo in northeast Syria after former US president Trump decided to withdraw troops from the area.

The attempts by the Trump administration to withdraw from the country met with protest, including from his own political base, and he backed down. Now the current US administration, led by Joe Biden, plans to keep a coalition presence in Syria.

There are officially around 900 US service members in Syria and coalition forces carry out regular security patrols in Kurdish towns in Hasakah. 

In general, the patrols have been welcomed by the local Kurdish population and preferred over those by Russian forces that also patrol near the border following a Turkish-Russian ceasefire and separate US-Turkish ceasefire deal in October 2019.

“The response is very good actually and they do love us here, and we like to provide security for them and it’s always fun to interact with kids as well with soccer balls, playing with them, and putting smiles on their faces and ours,” Lt. Samantha Stein, the Bradley Platoon leader, told Kurdistan 24 during a trip to the region in February.

Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly