• Turkey Eyeing Further Expansion in Northern Syria, Say Rebels

    After establishing a presence in northern Idlib and western Aleppo over the past month, Turkish troops and Turkey-backed rebels are now looking to expand their area of control along the border by moving further east into Aleppo’s countryside, a rebel spokesman told Syria Deeply.

    Although Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that his country’s operation in northeast Syria was nearly complete, Ankara recently dispatched reconnaissance teams to new areas, and some rebels reported being in talks to hand over their positions to Turkish forces, according to a military spokesman for the Syrian opposition faction Nour al-Din al-Zenki.

    Ankara began its cross-border operation with the purported aim of enforcing a de-escalation zone in Idlib, which was agreed upon by Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Kazakh capital of Astana in September. So far, its troops have deployed only in areas separating the opposition and Kurdish forces. The Turks have not moved into front-line areas between rebels and the Syrian regime.

    According to Abdul Salam Abdul Razzaq, Turkey is looking to replicate this strategy further east. He told Syria Deeply that Nour al-Din al-Zenki had already agreed to hand over its positions in rural Aleppo to Turkish forces.

    He added that although it had not been determined exactly where the Turkish troops would be stationed, Ankara was looking to establish observation posts in the Sheikh Aqil Mountains, located in the al-Bab district, which Turkey liberated from the so-called Islamic State last year.

  • Mapping the Battle Against ISIS in Deir Ezzor

    In recent weeks, the so-called Islamic State has suffered a string of defeats in eastern Syria. It has lost swaths of territory in Deir Ezzor city to advancing pro-Syrian government forces and has been driven from villages and oil fields on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River by a U.S.-backed paramilitary group.

    The two simultaneous but separate offensives by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Syrian government loyalists may have resulted in quick gains in their first few weeks, but fighting is ongoing in many parts of the province, much of which remains under complete militant control.

    ISIS still controls roughly 74 percent of the Deir Ezzor province and commands two main strongholds in the areas of Boukamal and Mayadin, south of the provincial capital. The group also controls a resource-rich region east of the Euphrates River that contains most of the oil and gas fields in the province.

    With a long and grueling campaign still underway to expel the militant group from its last bastion in Syria, Syria Deeply examines the battle for Deir Ezzor by looking at the main groups, their objectives and their advances in the region.

  • Long Read: Elites, War Profiteers Take Aim at Syria’s Economic — Syria Deeply

    Despite years of calling for Assad’s removal from power, several European governments are now also looking to gain access to Damascus, diplomatically at least. Two sources close to the Syrian government told Syria Deeply that in the last few months some European states have opened channels with the Syrian government for talks on potentially reopening their embassies. At least one other E.U. state has had channels with Damascus open for roughly two years.

    According to one European diplomat in neighboring Beirut, “the Germans, for example, have had a channel for intelligence-sharing and security with Damascus since at least 2015.”

    But foreign involvement is not the only factor excluding average Syrians from the push to rebuild the economy. Since 2012, the government has passed legislation that largely favor deals with the ruling class – many of which are unrelated to rebuilding what was destroyed during the war.

    In May 2015, Assad issued Presidential Decree 19 allowing all units within the state to form private investment companies. The following year, the government passed the Public Private Partnership (PPP) law, permitting private companies to make deals with the government to manage state assets.

    While this legislation has been promoted as part of a reconstruction strategy, wealthy local businessmen – many with ties to the regime – are already cutting deals with the government for billion-dollar real estate projects that are unrelated to rebuilding efforts. Many of these lucrative development projects are planned for land that the government has expropriated under Presidential Decree 66, passed in 2012, which allows the state to “redevelop areas of unauthorized housing and informal settlements [slums].”

    For example, the government expropriated land in the East Mezzeh district of Damascus – compensating owners very little – and is now selling it off to private companies to build luxury apartments, modern villas, public services and commercial space. The majority of the East Mezzeh project went to the Damascus Cham Private Joint Stock Company, a private company owned by the Damascus governorate, but wealthy businessmen have also recently been included. In August the Aman Group, led by Syrian businessman Samer Foz, announced that it had established Aman Damascus, with a capital of $18.9 million, to build several towers within the project.

    “Reconstruction in Syria is going to breed a thousand Hariris,” said the former Syrian government employee, in reference to former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri. After the Lebanese civil war, Hariri bought much of downtown Beirut though his company Solidere, forcing residents out to redevelop the land into high-rises and luxury apartment buildings.

    “The concern is that they may rig the game in their favor, preventing small businesses and hardworking honest merchants and industrialists from also enjoying a share of the cake,” he said.

    En bref, les Assad et Cie vont s’en mettre plein les poches. #syrie #reconstruction

  • The Education Information Gap Facing Syrian Women Outside Syria

    A major barrier to Syrian women’s education – both inside and outside the country – is the information gap that makes applying for asylum and finding education opportunities a labyrinth of confusion.


    #éducation #discriminations #inégalités #femmes #genre #réfugiés #asile #migrations #réfugiés_syriens

  • Israel’s Quiet Campaign to Gain a Foothold in Southern Syria

    “UNEITRA, SYRIA – Over the past five years, Israel has been quietly working to establish a foothold in southern Syria to prevent Syrian government-backed forces from controlling the area and to bolster its claim over the Golan Heights.

    What began as tentative contacts with opposition factions and residents across the fence in 2012 has turned into a full-fledged, multifaceted operation that has military, logistical, political and humanitarian dimensions, according to an investigation by Syria Deeply, which interviewed residents, Syrian intelligence officials and opposition members for this story.

    Israel’s “safe zone” now unofficially runs roughly 6 miles (10km) deep and 12 miles (20km) long beyond the demarcation line of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The effort is intended to prevent the Syrian government and its allies, specifically Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, from maintaining a foothold along the Israeli fence. Israel used a similar tactic to establish a zone of control in the south of Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war.”

  • More Scholarships for Syrians, But Many Fail to Meet Refugees’ Needs

    Though the number of higher-education scholarships for Syrian students is growing, the expansion cannot meet demand and many do not offer appropriate fields of study, location or support for refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, Rasha Faek reports for Al-Fanar Media.

    #université #Liban #réfugiés #réfugiés_syriens #éducation #asile #migrations #Jordanie #turquie

  • Long Read: How the Syrian War Changed How War Crimes Are — Syria Deeply

    The Syrian war is probably the most documented conflict ever, but with no end in sight, the civilians and activists who have collected millions of photos, as well as thousands of videos and casualty lists, are quickly losing faith in international accountability mechanisms.

    Over the past six years, armed largely with determination and basic research and documentation skills, many local NGOs have been gathering evidence of alleged war crimes and conducting their own investigations violations of humanitarian law, in the hopes that perpetrators will be accountable for their crimes – justice that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has so far failed to guarantee in Syria.

    The United Nations set up the Independent International Commission of Inquiry of the Syrian Arab Republic (CoI) just a few months into Syria’s anti-government uprising, in August 2011, to gather evidence of human rights violations for future use in a criminal court. But the CoI’s work was hamstrung by its inability to send any investigators into Syria, instead heavily relying on the work of Syrian grassroots organizations monitoring and documenting violations. As the amount of data quickly piled up, local NGOs had to step up to the task of gathering, cross checking and compiling this evidence.

    Nearly seven years later, there are now over 400 individuals and local groups supplying various Syrian documentation centres with information. They, in turn, collaborate with international NGOs documenting human rights abuses, according to Mohammad Al Abdallah, the director of the Syrian Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC), a D.C.-based nonprofit that “promotes justice and accountability in Syria.”

  • Lebanon : Refugee women from Syria face heightened risk of exploitation and sexual harassment

    The report, ‘I want a safe place’: Refugee women from Syria uprooted and unprotected in Lebanon, highlights how the Lebanese government’s refusal to renew residency permits for refugees and a shortage of international funding, leaves refugee women in a precarious position, and puts them at risk of exploitation by people in positions of power including landlords, employers and even the police.

    #Liban #asile #migrations #genre #femmes #réfugiés_syriens #viols #harcèlement_sexuel #asile #réfugiés

    Pour lire le rapport :
    (le rapport existe en français aussi)

    • Syrian Refugee Fights Child Marriage and Abuse of Young Divorcees

      As someone who was married as a child, Rawda al-Mazloum, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, is working hard to prevent this from happening to girls in the refugee camp where she lives. Mazloum has experienced stigma for being divorced, and warns that young refugee divorcees are particularly vulnerable to abuse.

      #mariage_forcé #viols #divorce #camp_de_réfugiés #abus_sexuels #vulnérabilité

    • Turchia, il dramma delle donne siriane rifugiate vittime di violenze. Centinaia di bambine ricoverate incinte.

      Le donne costituiscono quasi la metà dei siriani che si trovano sotto protezione temporanea in Turchia. Ma oltre alle difficoltà derivanti dalla propria condizione di profughe si trovano spesso a fare i conti con violenze sessuali e una realtà patriarcale.

      Negli ultimi 7 anni la Turchia è diventata terra d’asilo per oltre 3,5 milioni di siriani. La metà circa di questo numero è rappresentato da donne, di cui 800mila al di sotto dei 18 anni.

      Un gruppo che oltre alla condizione di profugo deve anche fare i conti con un contesto dominato da una forte mentalità patriarcale. E dove l’uguaglianza di genere - sebbene garantita da leggi nazionali e da convenzioni internazionali - non va mai data per scontata. Resta infatti estremamente diffusa l’idea - sostenuta dallo stesso esecutivo turco - che le donne e le ragazze debbano conformarsi alle norme tradizionali di genere diventando innanzitutto brave mogli e madri, mentre l’istruzione assume un’importanza secondaria.

      Gli aiuti non bastano
      È quindi abbastanza facile comprendere perché - come viene riportato in un recentissimo rapporto della UN Women - le donne siriane in Turchia affermino di riscontrare gli ostacoli maggiori nel trovare una casa e un lavoro oltre che nel comunicare in turco.
      Lo studio riporta inoltre che le stesse, pur rischiando di essere maltrattate o discriminate nella vita quotidiana, dimostrano di non sapere dove rivolgersi per chiedere assistenza (nel 73% dei casi). Non sanno dove cercare aiuto per i figli (nel 74% dei casi) nonostante l’11% dei bambini abbia già avuto un incidente, e nemmeno dove trovare consulenza legale gratuita (68%) o supporto psico-sociale (57%).

      La UN Women, organizzazione dell’ONU dedicata all’uguaglianza di genere, è uno dei beneficiari dei fondi ( denominati “Strumento per i rifugiati”) di 3 miliardi di euro elargiti dall’UE nell’ambito della Dichiarazione UE-Turchia sui rifugiati siglata nel marzo 2016. Lo scorso luglio, la Commissione europea, ha deciso di “garantire la continuazione del valido operato dello strumento” prevedendo di finanziare con altri 3 miliardi di euro nuovi progetti rivolti ai siriani sotto la protezione temporanea dello stato turco affinché continuino a restare in Turchia.

      Spose Bambine in Turchia
      In Turchia il 15% delle bambine sono date in spose prima dei 18 anni - età in cui si diventa maggiorenni secondo la legge turca. Il dato riflette numeri “ufficiali” ma va tenuto in conto che molti matrimoni di questo tipo vengono svolti con rito religioso dagli imam e non sono legali. Dunque in caso di “divorzio” non riconoscono alle giovani nemmeno alimenti o altri benefici economici. Dal novembre 2017 una legge ha permesso ai funzionari dello stato (i mufti) di celebrare matrimoni religiosi con valenza legale. Per parte della società civile turca la nuova legge non serve ad altro che incrementare il numero dei matrimoni precoci, mentre l’esecutivo sostiene l’opposto.


      “Degli oltre 3 milioni di siriani che vivono oggi in Turchia solo 235mila alloggiano nei campi profughi. Gli altri sono sparsi per le città e cercano di cavarsela da soli. Sono sottoposti a ogni sorta di discriminazione e violenza. Lo status di ‘protezione temporanea’ che gli è stato assegnato non li protegge più di tanto”, scrive la giornalista e attivista Nurcan Baysal.

      Un esempio a riguardo, riguarda il campo per profughi Telhamut, che si trova a Urfa Ceylanpınar. All’inizio di agosto, l’Ordine degli avvocati di Diyarbakır assieme ad altre organizzazioni della società civile ha cercato invano di entrare nel campo per verificare una denuncia secondo la quale le abitanti del campo sarebbero costrette a prostituirsi in cambio di generi alimentari. L’Ordine, chiedendo alla procura di avviare un’indagine, ha affermato che la denuncia rappresenterebbe una gravissima violazione dei diritti. L’indagine - avviata - è stata tuttavia posta sotto segreto istruttorio e il campo resta tuttora accessibile solo alle ONG vicine al governo.

      Un’altra vicenda di violenza sessuale, questa volta riguardante delle minorenni siriane, è stata recentemente riportata dal quotidiano online Oda TV. Ne è emerso che nel 2017 l’ospedale Bağcılar di Istanbul ha ricoverato - senza però comunicarlo alle autorità competenti - 392 bambine incinte e per la maggior parte siriane. La procura ha avviato un’indagine in cui sono coinvolti 59 medici, ma il caso non risulta isolato.
      Spose bambine
      I quotidiani turchi riportano ogni giorno notizie di minorenni costrette al matrimonio. Come la sedicenne siriana D.H. che, per essersi ribellata a nozze forzate, è stata buttata dal balcone al terzo piano di un palazzo dal fratello. O la quattordicenne Y.Ç. che il giorno del matrimonio è riuscita a telefonare alla polizia e farsi liberare.

      Così come per le “spose bambine” turche, anche per quelle siriane il primo movente delle famiglia è di tipo economico. Si aggiungono poi considerazioni legate alla preservazione dell’onore della famiglia e intente a proteggere le giovani da violenze sessuali. “Se mio padre fosse vivo non avrebbe mai dato il suo permesso”, è l’amaro commento di una giovane sposa siriana la cui madre non sembra aver potuto resistere alla pressione dei pretendenti. Lo riporta la rivista National Geographic, che di recente ha dedicato un servizio al tema, ricordando che prima della guerra il numero delle minorenni siriane sposate era decisamente inferiore, mentre ora c’è “un’epidemia di matrimoni di bambine”.

      #Turquie #grossesse #patriarcat