After the beginning of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, Jabhat al-Nusra fighters took over control of many cities. Ras al-Ayn was one of these cities.
The Kurdish city of Serekaniye is located on the Syrian side of the Syria-Turkey border and on the other side of the border lies the Ceylanpınar district of Urfa (Riha). After the clashes of July 2013, Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters took over the city in the north of the country. The city was ruled by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) until 2019 by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). However, the city once again became the target of attacks in October 2019.
A cross-border military operation was conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Syrian National Army (SNA) for “border security” under the name of “Operation Peace Spring” in 2019. After the clashes, the city came under the control of Turkey and its affiliated SNA forces.
However, since then, conditions have deteriorated in the region. A large number of shells and gunfire has been directed into Ceylanpınar border town, due to the conflicts in the area. Many residents living in Ceylanpınar have been suffering in the aftermath of attacks by the paramilitary groups in Serekaniye, MA reports.
Seyfettin Bulut (51) and 12-year-old ‘M.Y.’ are amongst the many injured residents living in Ceylanpınar district. Bulut was injured by a bullet fired in a clash in Serêkaniyê on 30 July 2020. He lives in Seydo Atilla neighbourhood of Ceylanpınar. He worked as a scrap collector before he was injured. Bulut stated that he was shot while he was selling his goods in front of his house.
The bullet lodged in his waist: he has been living with the bullet for ten months. He said: “I did not notice that I was shot in the waist. I fell to the ground. My nephew took me to the hospital. I had surgery. The doctors said they could not remove the bullet. I could die if they pulled it out”.
Bulut stated that he was unable to work due to the lead in his waist and has started to have psychological problems: ”I am struggling with memory problems. I became forgetful. My voice has gone. My strength has gone. I cannot seek my rights. My son is dealing with my case”, he said.
Bulut complained that no officials even asked about his health status. “Who shot the bullet?”, he asked and he demanded that those who injured him should be revealed.
”The police told us that: ‘Nothing will come out of it even if you complain. There is no terror factor here. There are Turkish soldiers in there’. You cannot claim any rights because they are not there”, he said. “Then did a Turkish soldier fire this bullet?”, asked his son, İzzettin Bulut.
İzzettin Bulut added: ”There are many being hit these days. There have been people who lost their lives through this. They did not even take a statement from my father. They just asked about the day of the event and took a report and left. I filed a criminal complaint. They said: ‘We will come and help’, but they never did”.
Kadri Y., the father of 12-year-old ‘M.Y.’ who was the target of a clash on 12 November last year, claimed that many houses in Ceylanpınar were hit by bullets on the day of the incident. Stating that his son was shot in the waist whilst playing in the street, Kadri said: ”My son was seriously injured. The bullet was close to his kidney. He was in intensive care for two days, then discharged. My son behaves as if he had never been shot. He has both physical and psychological problems ever since the incident. I want to know where the bullet came from: I want justice. We were victims”.
Uğur Kahraman, the lawyer of both the injured people highlighted, stated that the investigation of one of his clients, Seyfettin Bulut, resulted in non-prosecution. Kahraman stated that “the bullet came from Syria: the investigation could not be conducted there and so, the perpetrators could not be apprehended”.
Kahraman added: “There is material and moral damage. The state is obliged to protect the right to live, the material and moral integrity of the individuals living in its country both in domestic and international law. It was known that the bullets that ricochet from the other side of the border could injure or kill people on this side”.
Kahraman stated that they requested a report from the hospital for his client, but the hospital report has not yet been received. Kahraman pointed out that his client was victimized for the second time due to the postponement of the report.
Kahraman said: ”Our client has psychological problems. There is a file at the prosecution stage. The investigation continues. Since the perpetrator is generally not reached in these files, it results in non-prosecution, but compensation can be demanded”, he said.
Pointing out that there are only wire fences between Ceylanpınar and Serêkaniyê, Kahraman continued as follows: “Every time when control changes in Serêkaniye, there are clashes for up to 20 days. I think control has changed there at least four times. Now, we have started to hear more gunshots. People are affected, financially and morally”.