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Syria: Islamists pressure youth to perform jihad against Kurds - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Rebels from Al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra waving their brigade flag on the top of a captured Syrian air force helicopter in Idlib province, northern Syria (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN, File)

Rebels from an Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group wave their brigade flag in this April 2013 file photo. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN, File)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), an Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group, has ordered all families in the Syrian city of Tell Abayad in the Raqqa governorate to either send a son to carry out jihad or pay a fine, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.

Sources speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat said that ISIS intended any volunteers from the city to carry out jihad against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units. The fine is said to be SYP 500,000 (approximately USD 4,500).

Ibrahim Al-Musallam, a member of Tell Abayad’s local council, told Asharq Al-Awsat that elements linked to ISIS had issued calls for jihad against Kurds from mosque minarets in the city. He added that they described the Kurds as “apostates.”

“Such calls began to increase after most of the Free Syrian Army battalions separated from [ISIS] and refused to pay homage to its emir,” Musallam said.

He added: “Islamist fighters do not want reconciliation to happen between Arabs and Kurds, and this explains growing calls for jihad on the part of ISIS, because a reconciliation agreement between the FSA and Kurdish fighters was implemented.”

ISIS’s supporters in the city held a meeting attended by several tribal and Islamist figures to discuss ways to fight the Kurds. Their goal is to preserve the town’s Arab and Islamic features.

ISIS demanded large sums to support their operations from the city’s wealthy inhabitants, threatening residents with expulsion if they refused to pay.

It has been reported that the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) gave the Kurdish Supreme Authority a pledge to stop driving civilians away and to discover who is behind armed attacks against the minority group.

The SNC announced it had instructed the FSA to refrain from getting involved in any political activity that could compromise the identity and unity of the country.

Musllam informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the people of Tell Abayad were indignant over ISIS’s demands.

The infamous Islamist group has taken control of eight villages near the city of Tell Abayad, including Tal Akhdar, Yarqo and Medgalta.

Kurds make up 30 percent of the district’s population of more than 200,000. The Tell Abayad district is inhabited by a mixture of ethnicities including Arabs, Turkmen and Armenians.

Tell Abayad has recently witnessed a wave of emigration to Turkey by its Arab residents after ISIS took control of most of the district.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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