Al Qaeda Pushes Kurdish Population Transfer in Syria
The Syrian human rights organization Al Masrad reports that Al Qaeda affiliated Da'ash (the Islamic state in Iraq in Syria) fighters are expelling Kurdish families from their homes in a number of north Syrian communities, settling families of the organization's fighters in their stead.
According to eye witnesses, Da'ash fighters gave the families short notice to abandon their homes, leaving many of them without a roof over their heads and in difficult conditions.
With the winter setting in, it is feared that many displaced persons in Syria may die from the cold as occurred last year. Al Masrad reports that 4 children have already died from the cold wave in the last few days.
In November, Kurds in north-eastern Syria officially announced the establishment of an autonomous Kurdish government in the region, after fierce fighting with Islamist rebel groups including Al Qaeda and its affiliates.
Just weeks after the announcement, the leader of Syria's most powerful Kurdish faction warned of a possible future war against "Arab settlers" brought to Kurdish areas of the country by President Bashar Assad in a policy to "Arabize" the regions.
Da'ash reportedly has thousands of Muslim fighters from various countries, including the West. This phenomenon was highlighted in a recent propaganda film by the organization featuring a German Muslim convert.
Al Masrad reports that the Syrian war, now in its third year, has seen more than 100,000 civilians killed, and turned 3 million Syrians into refugees.