Syrian civilians held demonstrations across the city of Raqqa yesterday calling on US-backed Kurdish militias to leave the area, according to Syria Call news agency.
Protests took part in the main Al-Sakia Street as well as in several of the city’s neighbourhoods, including Al-Mashbal. Demonstrators shouted slogans against the Kurdish authorities and expressed opposition to the federalist system they seek to implement in the northern territories under their control.
حملة الرقة تذبح بصمت تنشر فيديو لمظاهرة بالقرب من شارع الساقية تطالب بخروج وحدات حماية الشعب الكردية من مدينة الرقة. pic.twitter.com/LlXCy4IK2S
— HalabToday حلب اليوم (@HalabTodayTV) May 29, 2018
People’s Protection Unit (YPG) militias sent security reinforcements to suppress the demonstrations and reportedly fired on the crowded protesters, resulting in several injuries.
The protests come a week after the YPG imposed forced conscription on residents of the city, mandating that men between the ages of 18 and 30 join militias for at least nine months, dubbing the policy “compulsory conscription in the duty of self-defence”.
The YPG, an offshoot of the designated terror organisation the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has started to face increasing resistance to its policies from Syrians, including the formation of a new battalion called the Al-Raqqa Brigade.
Earlier this week, Kurdish militias stormed a bastion of the group in an operation that left three opposition fighters dead. Despite the attack, Al-Raqqa Brigade called on civilians to show their resistance to the YPG in yesterday’s demonstrations.
US-backed Kurdish forces, known collectively as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have secured swathes of land in the north of Syria causing heightened tensions with neighbouring Turkey.
Since January, Turkey has undertaken an air and ground offensive in Syria as part of “Operation Olive Branch” against the YPG in Afrin. The move prompted the Kurdish militia to call on the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad to aid them in the fight against Turkish soldiers.
Cooperation between the YPG and the Syrian regime is ongoing, with a member of the Central Committee of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria revealing last week that the YPG had handed over more than 90 Kurdish detainees to the security branch of the Assad government, after withdrawing from the city of Afrin in the north-west of Aleppo.
The YPG has also received increased backing from Europe; French forces have established six artillery batteries in the north of the country and along the Syria-Iraq border since their arrival last month.