Senior Arab leader backs return of civilians to Syrian town after Kurdish YPG dismantles ISIS explosives

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Mansour Saloum, the Arab co-head of the federal Rojava region. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

KOBANE – The Syrian activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) reported that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are not allowing Arab civilians to return to the town of Souk, which has been liberated by Kurdish YPG forces from ISIS. Mansour Saloum, the Arab co-head of the federal Rojava region, told ARA News that they will try to solve the problem. 

On 3 June, there were protests in the town of Slouk against the YPG for not allowing people to return to their hometown. The town has been captured from ISIS since June 2015, and the local Arab civilians have demanded the return to their town. “The YPG is not allowing the people to go back to their own homes, because they are Arabs,” the RBSS group said.

However, the YPG explained that ISIS militants have left behind a large deal of land-mines and explosives, saying that special units are working on dismantling them before allowing civilians to return home. 

In other towns, the YPG has been more lenient. On 2 May, the YPG allowed Arab civilians to return to the city of al-Hawl after the city was cleared from mines left by ISIS militants. Allowing the civilians to return home came after protests by displaced people from al-Hawl demanding to return to the city.

“I saw with my own eyes many mines and explosives in the city, that’s why they prevent people to return to the city,” Saloum told ARA News.

“We are waiting until our forces go further towards Raqqa, to make the city safer, and there are some people supporting ISIS in the Slouk town itself. ISIS wants to create tensions and acts of revenge,” Saloum added. On 17 February, violent clashes erupted in Slouk between ISIS and the YPG.

“But we did not replace the people by others,” the official said, denying allegations of ethnic cleansing. “After two days I will meet people and civilians from Slouk to discuss a team from the Jazira canton [Hasakah province] to demine the area, and to ask them to select youth people to volunteer to protect the security of the city,” he said.

“I have one house in Slouk, and my brother lives there, and our families and relatives have shops there, there is no problem for return,” he said.

Salem told ARA News that a similar agreement was reached in Tal Brak with local tribes in return for services such as electricity, bakeries, water, relief and food aid, and the local tribes collected funds for reconstruction. 

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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