To give you an overview of the latest news, we’ve organized the latest Syrian developments in a curated summary.
Syrian Kurds Declare Interim Administration, Running an Autonomous Region. The Democratic Union Party (PYD), the largest Kurdish political party, has said it would set up an administrative body to run the northwestern region, the BBC reports. The highly significant move came after a meeting in the city of Qamishli on Tuesday.
Kurdish militias have beaten back al-Qaida-linked groups for control of majority Kurdish areas along the Turkish-Syrian border; regime troops retreated from those areas more than a year ago, making it terrain that was effectively up for grabs.
“In light of the current circumstances which Syria is going through, and in order to fill an administrative vacuum … we see is as utmost necessity to reach a transitional, pluralistic, democratic administration,” the Kurdish leaders said, in a statement sent to Reuters.
Kurds make up roughly 10% of Syria’s population. They have been traditionally seen with suspicion, presumed to have ambitions of setting up an independent state of Greater Kurdistan that would unite the estimated 30 million Kurds scattered across Iraq, Iran and Turkey (and incorporate chunks of each country). Turkey, in particular, has seen Kurdish political ambitions as a direct threat and continual source of conflict.
For now, the PYD is trying to quell those concerns.
According to the BBC the new administration would rule Kurdish-majority areas in the northeast until the broader conflict is over. Alan Semo, a PYD spokesman in the UK, told the broadcaster that Kurdish regions would be “integrated in future in a united, democratic, plural Syria,” adding that Turkey has nothing to fear from the move.
Syrian Troops Advance an Offensive in Damascus and Aleppo. Al Jazeera reports that Syrian troops have clashed with rebels on the southern outskirts of Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo, in what it called “part of a government push to advance and retake opposition-held areas.
“In the suburbs of Damascus, Tuesday’s fighting centered around the town of Hejeira, one of a patchwork of sprawling neighborhoods and towns south of the Syrian capital that have been opposition strongholds for the past year,” the Qatari-owned broadcaster. The Syrian army seized Hejeira as part of its campaign to cut off rebel-held neighborhoods east of the capital, AFP reports, citing state television.
In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, Syrian government troops are fighting to regain control of rebel-held neighborhoods, making strategic gains over the past few weeks.
Private Donations From Wealthy Arabs Fuel (and Complicate) the Fight. The New York Times profiles how donations from private citizens in Kuwait have effectively crowdfunded Syria’s opposition, turning a “tiny, oil-rich Persian Gulf state into a virtual Western Union outlet for Syria’s rebels, with the bulk of the funds … going to a Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida.”
Private donors have long filled the funding vacuum in Syria; while Western states have dithered on sending advanced weapons to rebel troops, individual patrons have chosen and backed their preferred brigades on the ground. Those patrons have tended to favor Islamist groups and their expressions of Muslim piety, giving them a resource advantage over moderate or secular fighters.
As the Times describes it, fundraising efforts now mix Islamist fervor with gamification of the weapons of war.
“One Kuwait-based effort raised money to equip 12,000 rebel fighters for $2,500 each. Another campaign, run by a Saudi sheikh based in Syria and close to Al Qaeda, is called ‘Wage Jihad With Your Money.’ Donors earn ‘silver status’ by giving $175 for 50 sniper bullets, or ‘gold status’ by giving twice as much for eight mortar rounds.”
Suggested Reads from Our Editorial Team:
Los Angeles Times: U.N. Denounces Mortar Attacks on Schools in the Syrian Capital
Al Jazeera: Teenage Syrian Refugees ‘Wed for Protection’
Al Jazeera English: Albanians Protest Syrian Chemical Weapons Dismantling Proposal
The Guardian: In Aleppo I only Survive by Looking Syrian
Los Angeles Times: Syrian Activists Mock Geneva II Online
Al Monitor: Turkey-Syria Border Under Scrutiny