Activists said that the militia of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) rounded up tens of young people in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor to forcibly recruit them into their ranks and to force them to dig trenches and tunnels around the major towns in the areas under the militia’s control.
The arrests came just days after the United States begun what it said a complete withdrawal of its forces from Syria. They also coincided with preparations by the Turkish army and the Free Syrian Army to fill the vacuum which will be left by the US withdrawal.
Local news outlets quoted activists as saying that the PYD militia had transferred dozens of young people from al-Houl IDPs camp to the towns of Qamishli and Ras al-Ayn to participate in the digging of trenches around the two towns.
The PYD militia also detained about 20 young people in the town of Thiban in rural Deir Ezzor. Local activists said that the arrests came as the PYD militia is bracing for an anticipated military operation by the Turkish army and the FSA in east of the Euphrates River.
Residents of one of the neighborhoods of Ras al-Ayn on the Turkish border prevented the PYD militia from setting up military positions including mortar launchers inside the residential areas.
Rights activists documented the arrests of more than 5,000 civilians by the PYD militia in the areas under their control, half of them women and children. They noted that well over 2,419 civilians have been forcibly disappeared in the PYD-held areas since 2011, including 257 women, 604 children, and 55 media activists.
Meanwhile, the Anadolu Agency said that reinforcements by the Turkish army arrived to the province of Kilis on the Syrian border at dawn on Thursday. The reinforcements included armored personnel carriers.
The Turkish army has been ramping up forces along the Syrian border in preparation for a major military operation to clear the town of Manbij and east of the Euphrates from terrorist groups. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)