A mother and daughter, victims of the recent Turkish aerial campaign in northeast Syria, have been cited in the latest report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) to underline the grave consequences of Turkey’s aerial bombardment on civilians in the region. Rakza Salih Fawaz and her daughter Farah Adnan Ramdan were among the civilians severely injured during a morning strike on 9 October while working in a cotton field near Bcheïrîyé village in Derbasiyah (Dirbêsiyê), north of Hasakah (Hesekê).
Rakza recounted the harrowing moment to HRW, detailing the suddenness of the attack and the distress of hearing her daughter screaming from a severe injury. She said that there were no fighters or military personnel in the vicinity, and that the victims were merely daily labourers.
The HRW report revealed that between 5 and 10 October, Turkish drone strikes in Kurdish-majority areas of northeast Syria resulted in the death of at least 11 civilians and left many others injured. This information was corroborated by the Rojava Information Center, a northeast Syria-based volunteer media and research organisation.
In the wake of these airstrikes, both Rakza and Farah, who had been day labourers supporting their family, now face an uncertain future. Rakza’s husband, who has learning difficulties, relied on them for the family’s livelihood. Their injuries have rendered them unable to work, putting their entire family’s future at risk.
HRW’s scrutiny of the situation extends beyond this specific incident. The report stated that in 2022, children with disabilities, of whom Farah is now one following her injury, lacked access to basic needs, education, assistive devices like prostheses and psychosocial support.
Moreover, the watchdog drew attention to Turkey’s military operations in northern Syria. The Turkish Armed Forces are reported to have repeatedly failed to take necessary precautions to minimise civilian casualties. Historical data in the HRW report references three attacks in late January 2018 where 26 civilians, including 17 children, lost their lives.
HRW emphasised the importance of adherence to international humanitarian law, which mandates all parties in a conflict to avoid civilian harm. The report called for immediate accountability for those harmed by Turkish military actions and pressed Turkey to conduct thorough investigations into strikes causing civilian casualties. Furthermore, HRW urged Turkey to ensure redress for the victims and their families and hold those responsible for any violations accountable.