What is Russia doing in Qamishli and who is their man “Mohamad al-Benayyan”?

Russian delegation officials in Qamishli while visiting a local council election held by PYD-Rok Online

Majority of Qamishli city neighborhoods are under PYD-led “Self-Autonomous Administration” while Assad forces control some areas such as the Security box and the airport.

This interference between both sides caused several problems which developed to clashes for days in August 2016 before a Russian delegation arrived at Qamishli airport and mediate for a reconciliation between both sides and this was the first Russian military presence in the city.

*The beginning of the Russian presence in Qamishli and setting up a center near the airport

After Russians mediated between PYD militias and Assad regime in Qamishli city, Russian officers started going to the city in groups through the airport and held several meetings with Assad regime military and security commanders.

Special sources told NSO reporter in Qamishli that these meetings aimed to start to change Qamishli airport to a new Russian base in addition to its base in Hemimim airbase in Latakia countryside, but the escalating American influence there halted the Russian hopes which pushed Russian Defense Ministry in early 2016 to deny intentions to build a new airbase in Syria while Russian officers held other meetings with PYD officials to try to expand in east Syria.

NSO reporter said the Russian presence in Qamishli consists of about 50 officers, technicals, and experts who live in a villa near Qamishli airport entrance chosen by Assad regime who appointed 2 patrols from State Intelligence branch in Qamishli to do shifts to protect the area accompanied by Russian security guards who ban regime forces from entering.

In addition to this villa, the Russian delegation work from inside a special office in the agriculture airport near Qamishli civilian airport in secrecy accompanied by special translators according to what special sources told our reporter there.

The sources added that the Russian delegation appointed another translator who is “Mohamada al-Benayyan” the head of the “Arabic National Body” party in Hasakah which is affiliated with “Self-Autonomous Administration”, al-Benayyan runs an institution called “Intimaa\belonging” which issue a daily newspaper called “al-Benaa” and lately he has a significant rule in connecting Russian with different local components.

* Mohamad al-Benayyan is affiliated with “Self-Autonomous Administration”, close to Assad regime and a translator for the Russian delegation

Al-Benayyan is from al-Assaf family which lead Tai tribe, the tribe which majority of its members support Assad regime and enlisted in regime-led “National Defense Militia” despite the fact that some are with PYD-led “Interior Defense Forces”.

Mohamad al-Fares who is among most prominent leaders of Tai tribe is known to be very close to Assad regime, he is a commander of Assad regime-affiliated al-Maghawier forces and the acting commander of “al-Moqanaeen” groups known as “National Defense Army” which is also connected to the regime.

Al-Benayyan formed “Arab National Body” party in Hasakah and lured prominent Arab families, despite that Tai tribe is close to regime but al-Benayyan and his party became a member of “Self-Autonomous Administration” which appointed one of the party’s members “Tareq Hamndi” in Health Department who is a close friend to al-Benayyan and also graduated from Russian universities.

Being close to officials of “Self-Autonomous Administration” and being from an important tribe close to Assad regime made al-Benayyan close to the Russian delegation in Qamishli city in addition to his good Russian language because he studied in Russia and graduated from a university there.

NSO reporter said al-Benayyan brought some Russian officers to Kherbet Ammu village to mediate after a dispute between “al-Haj Seliman and al-Hammoudi” families after a young man from one family was killed, the mediation between both sides didn’t succeed due to the refusal of the victim’s family.

In addition to al-Benayyan efforts, the Russian delegation tried to create a local supporting base in al-Hasakah by province by concentration the “Russian Coordination Center” in Qamishli city and communicate with all local components.

The reporter added that on 30 July 2017 the Russian representative in Qamishli airport Colonel “Maksim Zilenik” distributed humanitarian aid to killed regime forces families and said it is a gift from Russia to Hasakah people and tried to get closer to Christians by repeated visits to Assyrian Orthodox Church.

The Russian delegation relationship with invitations to Sochi Congress

While Sochi Congress was close, the Russian delegation held several meetings with tribal figures while al-Benayyan was mediating between both sides, the delegation met also with prominent Christian figures in addition to officials of “Self-Autonomous Administration” and anti-PYD “Kurdish National Council” in addition to other meetings with independent activists according to what sources told NSO.

According to the sources, the meetings aimed to form a delegation from al-Hasakah province to Sochi Congress which contain all parts of the area, al-Benayyan contacted prominent Arab figures in Hasakah province who are known to be neutral to invite them to the Congress and was able to add more names such as Hamandi al-Hamandi and Saddam al-Qirat as independent representatives of al-Hasakah province.

Our reporter added that the Russian delegation is meeting with different political commissions and parties in Hasakah province about the Congress, the sources said a video statement by Shemmar leader Hemidi Daham al-Hadi al-Jarba PYD’s most important Arab ally said he received an invitation by Russian representative in Qamishli airport as an independent figure not as the co-governor of al-Jazire canton in “Self-Autonomous Administration”.

On 4 February, NSO published a list of the names who were invited among regime delegation to Sochi Congress, the delegation consisted of 47 people as the information we had said that the delegation met with Intelligence commanders in Qamihsli and instructed about participating in Sochi Congress.

Mohamad al-Benayyan the head of pro-PYD “Arab National Body” party and the Russian delegation’s translator in Qamishli

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