Turkish Drone Strike Kills SDF Commander in Kobani

Turkey has continued to terrorize the skies of North and East Syria, with another drone strike targeting US partner forces in the region. Arin Kobane and Commander Sorxwin Celal, both of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed when a Turkish drone bombed their vehicle in Kobani. 

Sorxwin Celal had spent ten years in the YPJ, joining initially during the Siege of Kobani in order to defend its people against ISIS. She continued to take part in the campaign to defeat ISIS in Til Hemis, Hasakah, and other major flashpoints in the region, being wounded multiple times, including losing an eye. 

Since beginning its drone campaign in 2020, Turkey has conducted hundreds of drone strikes in North and East Syria, mostly targeting experienced commanders of the Syrian Democratic Forces, especially those with a history of working alongside the United States and the Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

Three Christian Security Personnel Killed in Turkish Drone Strikes

Three members of the Christian-led “Sutoro” internal security force and one civilian were killed in a series of Turkish drone strikes that targeted the town of Derik in North and East Syria. 

Three trucks belonging to Sutoro were initially targeted, and when a fourth came to provide assistance, it was also hit. 

Sutoro provides security in areas of North and East Syria where Christian communities still remain, including in Derik, Qamishli, Tel Tamr, and Hasakah, especially to churches and other gathering places for the region’s Christian communities. 

The Christian population of Syria has suffered greatly during the ongoing conflict, with the majority of Christians fleeing persecution by ISIS and other extremist groups.

Attacks by Pro-Regime Tribal Militias Continue in Deir-Ez-Zor

The already complicated situation in Deir-ez-Zor has had another dimension added to it with frequent attacks by tribal militias, which the Department of Defense confirmed in its quarterly report on Operation Inherent Resolve to be supported by Iran and the Assad regime, on the Euphrates River. 

The Euphrates provided a natural border between the Autonomous Administration’s territory and the territory held by the regime in Damascus as both retook territories from ISIS through the spring of 2019. Now, following clashes in September 2023, and escalating tensions across the Middle East in the wake of October 7, these militias have been organizing nighttime raids on SDF positions on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. 

Prior to these attacks beginning, this region of Deir-ez-Zor was already the epicenter of ISIS activity, and as a result, where the majority of joint SDF-US anti-ISIS operations took place. These continue, but with greater difficulty, as the SDF now contends with an ISIS insurgency and one backed by the regime and Iran. 

SDC Receives Central Syrian Tribal Leaders on Eid al-Fitr

Co-Chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, Layla Qehreman, received tribal leaders and dignitaries at the SDC’s headquarters in Raqqa. The delegation included Sheikh Basha al-Basha, leader of the al-Mawali tribe, Sheikh Zayed Abu al-Tous, leader of the al-Turki tribe, Sheikh Ridwan al-Shibli, leader of the al-Kharashin tribe, Sheikh Muhanna al-Jadaan, leader of the al-Amour tribe, and Mut’ab al-Hamad and Muhammad al-Mustafa, members of the al-Jamlan tribe. 

The tribal figures extended their congratulations to the SDC and its co-chairs, Layla Qehreman and Mahmoud al-Muslat, as well as the different offices and councils within the SDC. 

Discussions centered around the issues facing the Syrian people, especially in the center of the country. Co-chair Qehreman highlighted the importance of Syrians unifying their efforts and working with all parts of society, including women, youth, and different social and cultural groups. 

SDC co-chairs Mahmoud al-Muslat and Leyla Qehreman have had frequent engagements with tribal and civil society figures since assuming their positions in December, 2023.

Yazidis of North and East Syria Celebrate “Red Wednesday,” Yazidi New Year

Yazidis across the world, including in North and East Syria, celebrated Çarşema Sor, or the Yazidi New Year. The Autonomous Administration sent a delegation to participate in the official celebrations that took place in the Cizire Region, which included members of the civilian and military institutions, women’s organizations, and political parties. 

The Yazidi community in North and East Syria has continued to organize and recover from years of oppression by the Assad regime and the genocide committed against them by ISIS. Under the Autonomous Administration, Yazidis have been able to build up their own structures to promote their culture and address issues facing their community.