The northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo, the region that extends from Azaz to Jarablus to Al-Bab, has witnessed good stability and improvement in provision of the basic services since the liberation of the cities and villages from ISIS in late 2016 and early 2017. And in the light of the restoration and enhancement of the stability in Afrin region after the Free Syrian army’s control over it, the efforts of restoration and enhancement of stability disturbed by the terrorist bombings that hit towns and villages in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
This is a statistical report prepared by the Stability Committee on the bombings that hit the region between 22/6/2018 and 1/11/2019.
All the bombings that are counted in this report are the bombings that hit vital and civilian points, the report did not count the bombings that targeted military factions and personal. Successive bombings that took place in the northern countryside of Aleppo (Afrin, Al-Bab, Jarablus, Azaz, etc..) caused the death and injury of hundreds of civilians in the region, where there were 156 bombing attempts, 31 of them were seized and dismantled, while 125 bombs exploded.
The main objective of these bombings is to destabilize and create a state of insecurity in the region, most of them hit popular markets and vital points within the main cities and villages in the region. It is noteworthy that all the people killed and wounded as result of these bombings are civilians including women and children and that head of Akhtarin local council was one of the victims of these bombings, his car detonated by an explosives device and as a result he has heavily wounded in the explosion (his left leg was amputated).
Most of these bombings targeted vital points within the main cities and villages, the 125 terrorist bombings that exploded have killed more than 120 civilian and wounded more than 630 civilians, including children and women. Note: that the bombings that targeted the military personal are not included in this report.
The biggest number of these bombings happened in al-Bab city, which is one of the most densely populated cities alongside to that it is inhabiting the biggest number of displaced and forcibly displaced people. 35 terrorist bombings took place in al-Bab causing death to tens and injuries to hundreds of civilians alongside to causing extensive damages to public and private properties.
In Jarablus which is on the outskirts of the regions controlled by the Syrian democratic forces (Manbij), the number of the terrorist bombings that took places in the city is 24, while the security forces in Jarablus dismantled more than 15 explosives devices and vehicle bombs before being detonated. 25 terrorist bombings took place in Azaz city center and its markets. On June the 2nd 2019, the night before Eid el-fitr a car bomb exploded in the main market of Azaz while the market was very crowded, and caused death to 23 civilians including women and children. 11 terrorist bombings took place in Bzaa and Qabasin and caused death and injuries to tens of civilians.
Akhtarin as well is one of the residential areas that are frequently targeted by the terrorist bombings. Akhtarin has been targeted by 6 bombings one of them targeted the car of Mr. Haled Deebo – head of the local council.
18 bombings took place in Afrin (in the public markets and vital points), causing death and injuries to a lot of civilians. The situation in al-Rai city is not different, 6 terrorist bombings took place in the city, the last of which took place in September near al-Rai hospital killing 12 and injuring 15 civilians.
The reality of the bombings:
The bombings used to target the most populous cities such as Jarablus, Afrin, al-Bab, and Azaz, as conducting bombings in them is easier because there are a lot of streets and entrances, the thing that ease the movement of the cars /motorcycles and it makes it easy for the doer to park the car/motorcycle or implant the explosive device without being noticed by the others and security forces which makes it hard to determine the party which stands behind the bombings.
Sometimes simultaneous explosions happen in the region, for example on July the 22nd 2019, 4 bombings took place in the region within only 1 hour. As a result of that day’s bombings 34 civilian wounded and 3 civilians killed. The first explosion happened in al-Bab killing 2 and wounding 12 civilians, and within only an hour followed by 3 more explosions, one in Algandura village in the countryside of Jarablus causing wounds to 5 civilians, an other in Talbattal village in the countryside of al-Rai killing 1 and wounding 6 civilians and the last one exploded in Azaz causing injuries to 11 civilians.
The security forces and the local residents are saying that the party behind these bombings is YPG / PYD, as some groups and formulations close to them claimed their responsibility for dozens of bombings in the region and some other residents saying that the ISIS is behind some of the bombings.
These bombings are carried out indirectly, the party behind the explosions usually requests someone to drive a bomb (usually remote controlled) planted car or motorcycle and park it in a predetermined place in the northern countryside of Aleppo. Talking to some of the suspects, it was revealed that some of them were not aware of what was inside that car, while others knew and got paid by the parties behind the explosions.
Effects of the bombings:
Civilians are living in a state of great fear of those bombings because they spread terror and fear within a region considered to be one of the stable areas in Syria by hitting vital and civilian centers. The civilians started to suspect and fear of any car or motorcycle passing through the road. The moments of the bombings and its aftermath are still stuck in the minds of many of them. It also led to a lack of confidence in the responsible local authorities and increased tension among the people. Most of the civilians now holding the security authorities responsible for what is happening and repeatedly demand them to strengthen the security procedures in the region. The bombings also affect attracting of investors to work in the region. It is worth mentioning that the region is in dire need of investors and their projects after the deterioration of the economic situation in the region
due to the bombings.
The bombings caused delay of establishment of some service and commercial projects, which reflects on the economic situation and curbing its development, which weakens the attraction of investors to work on large scale projects in the region.
Measures and procedures:
With each new bombing, the civilians start to call upon to the concerned authorities to take the appropriate measures to stop happening of such incidents.
In order to prevent the occurrence of such bombings several steps should be taken to reduce this phenomenon, the first of which to stop the proliferation of arms in the region, and strict the controls on the entrances and exits of the region including the crossings with SDF / PYD controlled areas and regime- controlled areas). Second, intensifying foot patrols of the police, especially in the markets and the public places, and preventing the entry of motorcycles to the markets and the places crowded with civilians.
The security authorities are working to control the border crossings by closing them and restricting the movement of traffic between the two sides to pedestrians only, while increasing security measures at the crossings. In addition, police checkpoints are stationed at the entrances of the cities and the towns of the region to check the vehicles.
Many projects launched by all the local councils in the region to “License the Vehicles and Issue Identification Plates”. The projects include the registration and licensing of the civil vehicles and in a later stage will include the registration and licensing of military vehicles. This was preceded by projects to issue identification cards to all the residents of the region. These security measures led to the seizure of 31 explosive devices and vehicle bombs that was intended to be detonated in the civilian locations.