Although the olive harvest has begun in Afrin in Northern Syria, villagers are unable to sell their harvest due to attacks from gangs in the region. The Turkish backed Cebhe El Şamiya and Hemzat gangs have been stealing olives from the villagers.
Afrin has been controlled by Turkey and Turkish backed forces for the past two years and the olives that villagers harvest have been taken from them either without their consent or have been purchased from them at extremely low prices. To compound the situation, an extremely large number of olive trees have been felled in the region and the environment has been severely destabilised. According to Afrin Human Rights Organisation, 298,000 olive trees have been cut down in the past two years.
The olives grown in Afrin have been – and are being – illegally transported to Turkey by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). From Turkey, the olives are then being traded and sold in Europe.