Activists Condemn SDF’s Arrest of 16 Journalists in Syria's Raqqa

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Activists Condemn SDF’s Arrest of 16 Journalists in Syria's Raqqa

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said on Sunday that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) detained at least 16 journalists in Raqqa on July 30.

This came as activists revealed that the Kurdish-led SDF forces have arrested media figures as part of a security campaign in Syria’s northeastern province.

They said the SDF arrested several journalists working in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and in independent media outlets in Raqqa.

The SNHR report said the 16 arrested journalists were held by the SDF’s intelligence apparatus on Saturday under the pretext of “espionage.”

Meanwhile, activists indicated on their Twitter accounts that a large-scale arrest campaign was launched in Raqqa, targeting media professionals including Ruba Al-Ali, an employee at Hawar Agency, Ammar Al-Khalaf from the Euphrates Heritage Agency and formerly at Hawar, Ammar Haidar, who works at North Press and previously at Hawar, Khaled Al-Hassan in the education committee of the Raqqa Civil Council, and Batoul Al-Hassan in the youth media committee and the “Better Tomorrow” organization, in addition to Abdul Karim Al-Raheel, an employee of the Raqqa Civil Council.

According to the Syrian Press Center, the activists said all the detained journalists were from institutions located in the self-styled Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, adding that a number of activists in Raqqa are currently hiding over fears of arrest.

SNHR said the SDF follows a policy similar to the Syrian regime forces during arrest operations, which are not based on any prior judicial warrants.

It said the SDF kidnap the journalists from roads, markets, and public places, or they raid the headquarters of the media agencies and civil groups.

The network expressed fear that the arrested journalists will be subjected to torture during the investigation, and they will be among the forcibly disappeared, similar to the fate of 85 percent of detainees and the disappeared.



Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
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Sudan's RSF Agrees with UN on Steps to Ease Aid Delivery

Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
Sudanese farmers plow a field on the outskirts of Sudan's eastern city of Gedaref on July 18, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan's Rapid Support Forces agreed with the United Nations on some steps to ease aid delivery in areas under its control, a member of the RSF told Reuters on Thursday.

The Sudanese army has not reached any understandings on aid delivers with the RSF, he added. It is unclear if these steps could be implemented without the army's participation.

Meanwhile, a key supply route into Sudan's Darfur region, deemed at risk of famine by a global monitor, has been cut off due to heavy rains, a World Food Program official told Reuters on Thursday.
The UN agency has described Sudan as the world's biggest hunger crisis, with the western Darfur region most at risk as Sudan's 15-month civil war that has displaced millions and sparked ethnic violence grinds on.
WFP's Country Director Eddie Rowe said thousands of tons of aid are stranded at the Tina crossing on the Chad border, prompting the body to reopen talks with the army-aligned government to open an alternative, all-weather crossing further south called Adre.
"You have these huge rivers. As I speak now, our convoy, which is supposed to move over 2000 metric tons is stranded," he told Reuters from Port Sudan. Asked on the status of the talks that resumed this week, he said: "It's 50/50.”
WFP is now seeking clearances to move a large 70-truck convoy via a little-used, over 1000 kilometer route from Port Sudan to Darfur which Rowe said will involve crossing the battle lines of both the Sudan Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces and various militias.
He added that this mostly desert route has worked in the past but outside of the rainy season and that the last journey took weeks and was "fraught with a lot of challenges.”
In a separate interview, Mona Rishmawi, a member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, told Reuters that she had met Darfur refugees in Chad who told her stories of escaping with virtually no water and eating grass along the route. "There's no doubt that people are starving," she said.