More than three years have passed since the Turkish armed forces launched an attack on Afrin dubbed Operation Olive Branch alongside various local armed groups including remnants and ex members of ISIS, al Nusra and al Qaeda.
Ever since Turkey seized control of Afrin serious human rights violations have been recorded by local and international human rights organisations. It has also been revealed that Turkey is aggresively pushing ahead with a policy to change the demographic structure of the population of Afrin.
This demographic change is apparent, step by step over the three years as Syrian Kurds living in Afrin have been displaced and their homes have been confiscated by local armed groups. These homes are generally relocated by Turkey’s armed groups to Turkey’s affiliates.
Just one of the most recent instances of looting and property seizing that is systematic and continous was reported by local sources in Jindires to ANHA. Turkey’s affiliated armed groups confiscated the home of a villager named Ehmed Emune in the village of Baflûre, hanging Turkish flags all over his property and turning the home into a military post surrounded by concrete blocks, sources said.
Locals claimed that this incident took place by order of the Turkish military intelligence.
Another source in the village of Metîna told ANHA that Turkey’s armed groups also confiscated the home of a villager named Hec Menan.
Located on the road between Sherewa district centre and Metîna, the home was handed over to the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad Brigade.
Also in early August, an armed group in Afrin, calling themselves “military police” kidnapped a young man from the village of Ziyaret in Sherewa district.
Located in North Syria, Afrin has been the scene of large scale attacks on civilians that have caused a new wave of human displacement despite the misinformation of Turkish officials claiming that its assaults only targets the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military defence force of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.
Turkey accuses the YPG of belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and erroneously refers to Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and the Adana agreement signed with the Syrian regime in 1998, when it tries to justify its attacks in North and East Syria.
However, the Turkish government and military “giving Syrian armed groups free rein to commit serious human rights abuses against civilians” in Afrin has been a much discussed topic by international human rights organisations.
In a 25-page report released on 15 September 2020 the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria highlighted an increase in patterns of abuses targeting civilians in Afrin, including “looting or appropriation of private property, with sectarian undertones.”
In addition, the Commission pointed out Turkey’s responsibility with regards to all such atrocities, noting that Turkey is “bound by applicable human rights treaty obligations vis-à-vis all individuals present in such territories.”
Human Rights Watch also documented in 2018 that Turkey-backed armed groups in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have seized, looted, and destroyed property of Kurdish civilians in Afrin.
The Turkish armed forces themselves, have also taken over schools, disrupting the education of thousands of children, an Amnesty International research revealed in 2018.