Syria Today – Kurdish Student Dissapears in Syria; UAE Sends Ambassador

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria

Amnesty International has reported that Fidaa Mohammad Qassem, an 18-year-old English student who lives in Kobani, a Kurdish-majority town under the de-facto control of the Autonomous Administration of north-east Syria (AANES), was forcibly conscripted to the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), AANES’s female military force.

Russia declares collapse of Syrian-Turkish rapprochement path

The Russian President’s Special Envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, announced that the matter of normalizing relations between the Syrian regime and Turkey collapsed at the end of the year 2023, Enab Baladi reported.

Lavrentiev explained that the rapprochement path somewhat came to a halt at the end of last autumn because the Syrian side felt it necessary to obtain assurances from the Turkish side that the Turkish military forces present in Syria would withdraw “in the long term”.

The Russian news agency “TASS” reported on Monday evening, January 29, from the Russian official that “no one says these military forces will be withdrawn in the near future”, yet this is unacceptable for Ankara for certain reasons.

Lavrentiev said, “Although I believe such statements were issued unofficially and at different levels by the Turkish side, and that they will not stay in Syria, sooner or later Turkey will withdraw its forces once the appropriate conditions are met.”

Lavrentiev considered that Ankara does not want to make this path official, which constitutes a significant obstacle for Damascus, because the people will not understand the actions of their government that would negotiate with a country that “occupies” part of Syrian territory almost twice the size of Lebanon.

UAE sends first ambassador to Syria since civil war began

The United Arab Emirates has dispatched an ambassador to Damascus for the first time since the Syrian civil war erupted in 2011, Syria’s state media reported on Tuesday, in a new signal of Syria’s warming ties with the Arab region.

Incoming Emirati envoy Hassan al-Shehi presented his credentials to Syria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Faysal al-Meqdad at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.

Syria has been slowly re-establishing diplomatic ties with the Arab region in recent years after many recalled their envoys and closed embassies in reaction to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on protests against him in 2011.

Syrian Kurdish student disappeared in Syria: Fidaa Mohammad Qassem

Amnesty International says that Fidaa Mohammad Qassem, an 18-year-old English student who lives in Kobani, a Kurdish-majority town under the de-facto control of the Autonomous Administration of north-east Syria (AANES), was forcibly conscripted to the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), AANES’s female military force, in violation of local law. The authorities deprived her of communicating with her family in violation of international law. On 6 April 2023, Fidaa Mohammed Qassem was returning from English class in Kobani when she went missing. 

A close relative told Amnesty International that members of the YPJ conducted an unofficial visit to Fidaa Mohammad Qassem’s family about two weeks after she had gone missing and claimed that Fidaa Mohammad Qassem had voluntarily chosen to join the YPJ. The YPJ should reveal the whereabouts of Fidaa Mohammad Qassem and allow her to communicate with her family.

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