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Common analysis
Last updated: September 2020

COI summary

[Main COI reference: Targeting, 10.4]

According to estimates, in terms of ethnic groups, around 15 % of the population of Syria are Kurdish.

Prior to March 2011, there were estimated 517 000 stateless Kurds in Syria. There were two categories of stateless Kurds, the ajanib (foreigners) and the maktumeen (concealed, which were not included in the registries). Stateless Kurds, due to the lack of citizenship and identity documents, faced numerous restrictions, such as limited access to education, healthcare, livelihoods, freedom of movement, property ownership, participation in the judicial and political systems, registration of businesses, marriages and children. In April 2011, the majority of the ajanib were naturalised and more than half of the maktumeen obtained Syrian nationality. Even though ajanib Kurds who obtained Syrian nationality were called to serve in the SAA, the government could not access them for conscription, as they were settled in SDF-controlled areas.

There were no reported security incidents that specifically targeted Kurds who were settled in Damascus. They were able to obtain employment in various sectors and some public positions were restricted specifically for Kurds, with the exception of stateless Kurds who could not work in the public sector.

Kurds also inhabit areas which came under the control of Turkey and the affiliated SNA: the area between Azaz, Al-Bab and Jarabulus since 2016; Afrin district since 2018; and the so-called safe zone between Tall Abyad (Raqqa governorate) and Ras al Ain (Hasaka governorate) following Operation Peace Spring in October 2019 [Security 2020, 1.5.2]. Kidnappings, abductions, arrests, torture, extortion and assassinations of civilians of Kurdish origin by armed groups operating under the SNA have been documented by the UN and human rights organisations. Confiscation, looting and destruction of property of Kurdish civilians in the Afrin district by Turkish-backed armed groups were also reported [Targeting 6.1; Actors, 5.2]. Reports note the FSA resettled Sunni Muslim IDPs who came from Eastern Ghouta in seized or demolished property belonging to Kurds in Afrin. Civilians, particularly ethnic Kurds from Afrin, were also reportedly discriminated by the de facto authorities. In and around the so called ‘safe zone’ established by SNA and the Turkish armed forces between Tall Abyad (Raqqa governorate) and Ras al Ain (Hasaka governorate), sources indicate that persons of Kurdish ethnicity, especially those affiliated to, or with attributed affiliation to, SDF/YPG or any part of the Kurdish forces, can be at risk of denied returns, arbitrarily arrested or had their property confiscated [Security 2020, 2.7.3]. In Tall Abyad, the Turkish-backed rebel group SNA has reportedly committed executions and looting of property in the newly seized areas of the northeast [Security 2020,]. UN sources also reported that armed groups supported by Turkey carried out arbitrary arrests for the purpose of ransom to punish people for requesting to recover stolen property, or for alleged affiliation to the PYD or YPG [Security 2020, 2.7.3].

Risk analysis

The acts to which individuals under this profile could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. militia violence, illegal detention, kidnapping, killing, disappearance). When the acts in question are (solely) discriminatory measures, the individual assessment of whether or not discrimination could amount to persecution should take into account the severity and/or repetitiveness of the acts or whether they occur as an accumulation of various measures.

For Kurds from areas under the control of the SNA, well-founded fear would in general be substantiated.

In the case of other Kurds, not all individuals would face the level of risk required to establish well-founded fear of persecution. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances such as: statelessness, identity document, area of origin and/or residency, etc.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile may be for reasons of race, nationality (statelessness) and/or (imputed) political opinion.