– ISIS massacres Kurds in Aleppo town
– Syrian Kurds defend federal plan, deny autonomy aim

ISIS massacres Kurds in Aleppo town
The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) has committed a massacre in a Kurdish-populated town northeast of Aleppo amid accusations that pro-regime forces had abandoned the village in the face of the extremist group’s offensive. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported Tuesday morning that ISIS fighters killed at least nine residents of Kafr Saghir, two of them children, after the jihadists briefly seized the town this weekend. ISIS launched a raid on Kafr Saghir and nearby areas approximately 10 kilometers northeast of Aleppo on Sunday morning, before pro-regime forces managed to retake the region north of the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City the following day. “ISIS mercenaries took control of the town after regime forces escaped, paving the way for the mercenaries to commit a massacre against civilians,” the ANHA news agency said Monday. ANHA reported 45 civilians had been killed, while 100 others remained unaccounted for. Sources inside Kafr Saghir told ANHA that a number of families fled to the Kurdish-majority towns of Tel Aran and Tel Hasal. [NOW, Almasdar, ARAnews, 3/22/2016]

Syrian Kurds defend federal plan, deny autonomy aim
A Syrian Kurd representative Monday defended the proclamation of a Kurdish federal region in northern Syria, saying it was not meant to be autonomous and only for Kurds. The Kurds and their allies unilaterally proclaimed a federal region in the war-ravaged country last week, but critics said it would undermine Syria’s unity and lead to its partition. “We don’t aspire to create an autonomous zone that is exclusive to the Kurdish nation,” said Rodi Osman, director of the Syrian Kurd’s representative office in Moscow. “We envision to install a federal regime, democratic and secular, in which all parts of Syrian society can live and by which they will feel themselves represented,” he then told reporters. [AFP, 3/22/2016]

Regime says Assad’s fate still ‘excluded’ from Syria peace talks
Syria’s regime on Monday reiterated its stance that peace talks in Geneva will not address President Bashar al-Assad’s future, after the United Nations urged Damascus to submit plans for political transition. “President Assad has nothing to do with the… talks,” lead government negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari told journalists. Jaafari insisted that political transition in the war-ravaged country and Assad’s fate were “two separate issues.” The references of our talks do not give any indication whatsoever with regard to the president of the Syrian Arab Republic,” he said. Assad’s future “is something that is already excluded from the scene,” Jaafari said, following his meeting with UN mediator Staffan de Mistura. [AFP, 3/22/2016]

UNHCR will not work in Greek ‘detention centers’ in swipe at EU-Turkey deal
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Monday it would not operate in “detention centers” on the Greek island of Lesbos for migrants and refugees arriving from Turkey, dealing a blow to the EU agreement with Ankara last week. The UNHCR said migrants and refugees were being held against their will at the reception facilities on Lesbos, and it would no longer transfer them there. The deal, in effect since Sunday, is aimed at putting new arrivals in Greece who seek asylum on a fast-track for processing. A UNHCR spokesperson told the press that the deal has crossed a red line in its policy, and that, “We have taken a principled decision to disengage from transportation to and from Moria, as since Sunday, freedom of movement is not guaranteed.” Instead the organization will continue providing assistance to refugees and migrants on Lesbos’s shoreline and in the port, and will focus on “monitoring and counseling” at Moria. [Reuters, 3/22/2016]