Syrian Kurds: 17 Indonesians who escaped Daesh leave Syria

The flag used by Daesh features a banner reading: 'There is no God but Allah, Mohammad is the messenger of Allah'. (File photo via REUTERS)
Updated 10 August 2017
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Syrian Kurds: 17 Indonesians who escaped Daesh leave Syria

BEIRUT: A group of 17 Indonesians who had joined the Daesh group in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have been handed over to representatives of their country and have left Syria, a local Kurdish official and a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
According to the official, Omar Alloush, the Indonesian nationals included men, women and children. They were handed over on Tuesday at a Syria-Iraq border crossing. They had been asking to be sent back home, he said.
Spokeswoman Nisreen Abdullah from the Women’s Protection Units also confirmed the handover. The identities of the Indonesians were not immediately available and Iraqi officials could not confirm the report.
Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, the director of Indonesian citizen protection at the country’s foreign ministry, said there has been “communication between the Indonesian side with various parties that control the territory of Syria” including with the North Syrian Kurdish Authority linked to the 17 Indonesians.
He said the Indonesian government in its initial discussions obtained information that the group were not fighters, some had spent most of their time in Syria in Daesh jails or other isolated conditions, and had fled Raqqa with the help of a third party on June 10.
“Our communication with these parties is more directed to the humanitarian situation,” Iqbal said, noting the family includes teenagers and three young children. “The security conditions in the area are so complex that the handling process cannot be done easily,” he said.
Last month, an Associated Press team in Raqqa met with members of an Indonesian family of 17 and reported on their journey two years ago from Jakarta to Raqqa and their initial desire to live in the Daesh group’s self-proclaimed capital.
They also told the AP of how their dreams were crushed in the face of Daesh brutality and terror and how different the reality of life under Daesh was from the utopian dream of an Islamic society they had pursued.
The AP met the women and children at a camp for the displaced run by the Kurdish forces just north of Raqqa, after they had managed to escape.
The AP also interviewed a male relative at a security center run by Kurdish forces in Kobani.


Assad calls on Syria’s Druze minority to do military service

Updated 14 November 2018
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Assad calls on Syria’s Druze minority to do military service

  • Since the conflict erupted in 2011, thousands of Druze, especially those in Sweida, have refused to be conscripted, instead joining local militias promising to protect the region
  • The main way the Druze community could support the army was to do military service, Assad said

DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Assad has called on the country’s Druze community to do military service, days after members of the minority were released following a mass abduction in July by the Daesh group.
Sweida province is the heartland of Syria’s Druze minority, who made up around three percent of the country’s pre-war population — or around 700,000 people.
Since the conflict erupted in 2011, thousands of Druze, especially those in Sweida, have refused to be conscripted, instead joining local militias promising to protect the region.
Damascus has so far turned a blind eye as long as the Druze militias do not ally with rebel groups.
Speaking to a group of former hostages and their families on Tuesday, Assad thanked the army, saying that without them “the abducted people would not have been freed.”
“We owe a great debt to (the army) and as for you... your responsibility is even greater,” he said in a video published on the presidency’s official Telegram account.
The main way the Druze community could support the army was to do military service, Assad added.
The Druze, followers of a secretive offshoot of Islam, are considered heretics by the Sunni extremists of Daesh.
Daesh militants abducted about 30 people — mostly women and children — from Sweida in late July during the deadliest attack on the Druze during the Syrian civil war.
Some of the hostages died while others were freed last month in a prisoner swap. The remaining 19, mostly women and children, were released last week.
Before the war began, Syrian men aged 18 and older had to serve up to two years in the army, after which they became reserves available for call-up in times of crisis.
In the past seven years, fatalities, injuries and defections are estimated to have halved the once 300,000-strong army.
To compensate, the force has relied on reservists and militias as well as indefinitely extending military service for young conscripts.