Hundreds of Syrians rounded up for compulsory SDF military service

Hundreds of Syrians rounded up for compulsory SDF military service
Ethnic tensions in Syria's east bubble over as Arab locals demand the end to forced Kurdish-led SDF military service of their children.
2 min read
03 June, 2018
Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir Az-Zour [Getty]
Over 200 young people have been arrested by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the country's rural northeast in the past two days, with the objective to enrol them in compulsory military service.

Local sources told The New Arab that SDF campaigns have pursued young locals in the neighbourhoods of Hasakah and Qamishli, which are under control of the Kurdish-led militia.

They added that residents tried to stop officers from seizing their children, which led to clashes between militia forces and locals throwing sticks and stones.

The SDF targeting of young men in the areas of Syria it controls has led to many fleeing to Turkey, Europe and areas controlled by the Syrian Opposition.

Meanwhile the nearby city of Raqqa, formerly the de facto capital of the Islamic State group and now under Kurdish control, witnessed demonstrations by parents calling for the SDF to return their children who had been taken for compulsory military service.

Local sources told The New Arab around 100 people gathered in the city centre in protest. Kurdish security forces fired bullets into the air to disperse the demonstrators.

Ethnic tensions have been bubbling in Kurdish-controlled Arab towns in Syria's east. The US chose to give their primary military and financial backing to Kurdish militias over Syrian Arab rebel groups in the fight against IS, in doing so allowing Kurdish groups to tkae control over large swathes of territory which many Arab locals now view as a military occupation.

Syria's troubled northeastern provinces bore the brunt of IS rule and the subequent foreign military campaigns to oust the militants.

Airstrikes and ground campaigns by the US-led coalition and the SDF have killed civiliands and devastated many of the towns and cities in eastern Syria, as well as leaving behind a chaotic political situation with many sides vying over control of the region.

The political disarray is also being exploited by the hundreds of remaining IS fighters hiding out in Syria's eastern desert, where it still controls some oil fields and has capability to carry out attacks and kidnappings in SDF-controlled areas.