Syrian Democratic Forces deny displacement of Arab civilians, call for more aid

YPG fighters and other members of the Kurdish-Arab alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather in Kobane suburb after liberating Tishreen Dam from ISIS militants. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

KOBANE – According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights hundreds of Arab families are displaced in the town of Qalqal north of Syria’s Aleppo and not allowed to return to their villages.

“Several residents of the villages told the Syrian Observatory that The Syrian Democratic Forces asked them to get out of the villages, some of the people have been out of their villages for seven months after the control of Teshreen Dam,” SOHR said. “While these families -which include tens of children and tens of citizen women- are suffering difficult humanitarian situations amid severe shortages in food and proper health conditions.”

However, leadership of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied the report, saying that the evacuation of any area is meant to protect civilians from landmines and explosives planted by ISIS militants and that all families who evacuate their homes are allowed to return when explosives are dismantled and their areas are secured. 

Speaking to ARA News, SDF official advisor Haji Mansour said that the problem is the cleaning of villages from mines and hidden fighters. “But the situation in Abu Qalqal is good and we cleaned this area,” he said.

“Those civilians complain they cannot go to their houses, but they could die if they return to their village before it’s cleared,” he said. “Some civilians after three days of displacement already complain they cannot go back to their village. This is not realistic and they have to wait.” 

According to the SDF official, the ability of the local Kurdish-led self-administration is limited to provide civilians with aid and food. “This administration has been under embargo for 3-4 years. It’s completely surrounded and no one helps us, therefore the people are suffering and hungry,” Mansour told ARA News.  

“That’s why people will suffer the coming years,” he said. “When ISIS enters any area, they try to destroy it. Manbij is a big city and there are a lot of civilians.”

The SDF official called on the US-led coalition partners to provide more humanitarian aid to the SDF forces that fight ISIS.

“If those states are ready to fight ISIS, they must help us,” he said.

Berivan Issa, an official working in the humanitarian affairs commission of the local administration told ARA News there is almost no aid from the international community.

“Even in Kobane there is a lack of support, we don’t know the reasons,” she said.

Issa added the lack of food and water for displaced Arab civilians is caused by the lack of humanitarian support for the SDF forces.

“There is one bakery in Kobane, and every day they bring bread to Manbij,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of capabilities, we need more bread and food.” 

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