The death of Co-Chair of the Qamishli (Qamişlo) Canton of North and East Syria, Yusra Derwêş, who was killed by a Turkish drone strike with two other civilians, is a war crime and Turkey must be held accountable for it, said a senior official from the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
On 20 June, a drone attack targeted a vehicle on the Al-Qahtaniyah (Tirbespiyê) – Qamishli (Qamişlo) road, resulting in the deaths of Qamishli Canton Co-chair Yusra Derwêş, her deputy Lîman Şiwêş, and driver Firat Tûma on Monday. Another official, Qamishli Canton Co-chair Gabî Şemûn, sustained serious injuries in the strike.
Turkey’s aggression against the Kurdish-controlled regions in northern Syria has been escalating recently. Several Syrian government soldiers and a Russian soldier also died due to Turkish airstrikes, as well as numerous Kurdish fighters and civilians in the last two weeks.
Samira Haj Ali, the co-chair of the Education and Training Board in the AANES, urged international courts “to hold Turkey accountable for the war crimes it has committed by deliberately targeting civilians.”
Ali also emphasised that the recent killings of civilians and the casualties among AANES officials only serve to bolster their determination to bring stability to the region.
Speaking to North Press, Samira Haj Ali underscored Yusra Darwish’s professional background as a teacher who actively contributed to the institutions of the AANES.
Haj Ali emphasised the need for human rights organisations and concerned entities to take immediate action, calling on them to file a criminal lawsuit in international courts to hold Turkey accountable for its targeting of civilians during its operations against Kurdish regions in northern Syria.
Turkish-targeted areas in northern Syria have been subjected to 34 drone attacks since the beginning of 2023, resulting in the loss of 44 lives and leaving 27 others injured, according to a recent report by the North Press Agency.
As Turkey’s military intensifies its attacks, not just military forces, but civilians and AANES officials are increasingly becoming the victims of strikes.
Turkey had signed two ceasefire agreements following its incursion into northeastern Syria in October 2019, one with Russia and the other with the United States, which mandated the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of the SDF from the Turkish border by a distance of 32 kilometres.
While the SDF claims to have complied with the agreement by withdrawing from the border areas, Turkey continues to target the region. Turkey has launched three ground offensives in northern Syria since 2016, resulting in territorial gains in some of North and East Syria’s Kurdish-led regions.