Zagros TV Journalist Detained in Syria Without Charge
Barzan Hussein Liani Held Incommunicado
According to reports from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Barzan Hussein Liani from Zagros TV has been held by Asayish authorities since May 13th when he was detained outside the Syrian town of Rmeilan, which is near the borders with both Turkey and Iraq. Since being arrested, Liani has only been permitted to briefly visit with his wife once. No charges have been made public, and no reason for the detention has been given.
A letter addressed to Hediye Yusif and Mensur Selim, the co-chairs of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, from the CPJ states "we urge that you instruct the Kurdish forces under your control to release Barzan Hussein Liani, a journalist whom members of the Asayish security force detained more than a month and a half ago."
Zargos TV is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and located in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan. The KDP is described as a "rival" to the Democratic Party Union (PYD) who has been left as the de facto leader of the Rojava region, after first forming in 2007. Barzan Hussein Liani is said to be a member of the KDP.
It is thought that Liani is being held by Asayish security forces in Remeilan, at an office maintained by the group there. The CPJ has reported on how, in August 2015, the Asayish announced that the broadcasting licenses of Orient, described as Syrian opposition, and Rudaw, a Kurdish network, were being revoked.
"CPJ is concerned about Liani's health, safety, and well-being. Both the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and authorities governing the Cizire Canton, should work to secure Liani's immediate release and allow the journalist's lawyer and family to contact him," the committee's letter continued.
Key mosque in Mosul recaptured from ISIS
The BBC has reported on the origins of the Syrian Civil War, which first turned violent in Deraa, in March 2011, when authorities shot teenagers who had spray painted anti-government slogans on the wall of a school. By June 2013, 90,000 people had been killed in fighting that had reached Damascus and Aleppo. Originally a conflict defined by whether armed groups with for or against Syrian President Bashar al Assad, "It has acquired sectarian overtones, pitching the country's Sunni majority against the president's Shia Alawite sect, and drawn in regional and world powers. The rise of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) has added a further dimension."
A vacuum left by the fighting led to the Islamic State declaring a caliphate in June 2014, which the United States had begun bombing by September that year. However, U.S. bombing raids were only directed at targets that would not aid forces loyal to Assad. Similarly, Russia began a bombing campaign that the nation claims targeted "terrorists," but "opposition activists say its strikes have mostly killed Western-backed rebels and civilians."
In addition to conducting airstrikes, the United States had provided support to Kurdish peshmerga forces and Iraqi government forces in Iraq. After three years of military operations in Syria and Iraq, it appears that headway is being made against ISIS. Earlier today, USA Today reported that, yesterday, Iraqi forces captured the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul after fighting to recapture the city since October 2016.
"The fictitious state has fallen," Brigadier General Yahya Rassol was quoted.
The al-Nuri mosque was considered the objective of the Mosul offensive, as it was in this location that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi first announced the creation of the ISIS caliphate, in 2014. Fighting is said to continue between ISIS militants and Iraqi forces, with Mosul being "far from secure." Hundreds of ISIS fighters are said to continue to maintain mortar and sniper positions, in a portion of the city said to encompass one square mile, where as many as 50,000 civilians continue to live. The city is also said to be extensively mined and booby-trapped with bombs.
"This is the temple of the Islamic State," executive officer of the federal police, General Abdul Rahman, said of the capture of the mosque. "When we have taken it, we can say we destroyed the Islamic State forever. We have finished the Caliphate."
Is the capture of the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul a sign that ISIS has been defeated?
© 2017 Stephen Sinclair