Resûl Xelil, who was kidnapped and imprisoned for more than three years by armed groups affiliated with the Turkish forces in Afrin in north Syria, was freed after a ransom was paid on his behalf.
Xelil spoke to Hawar News Agency (ANHA) and detailed the horrors he had to witness and endure during the years he was kept in the Al-Rai detention facility in northern Aleppo, north Syria.
The notorious facility and its functions have become the focus of recent reports in the international media: Al-Monitor, for example, on 22 July published one such report. Leila Mohammed Ahmed, a captive for 17 days, spoke in a telephone interview about the suffering of her fellow detainees, ten of whom took their own lives after being raped by members of the Sultan Murad Brigade.
20-year-old Resûl Xelil, another victim and witness, told ANHA that the facility resembled a grave, where there were 120 detainees kept in underground chambers where they were regularly subjected to torture. Five prisoners had to share a single bed, trying to rest in shifts, and were forced to wear the same outfit over extremely long periods, sometimes extending to a year, he said.
“I was thrown there. I was lowered 21 metres deep into the grounds of the prison,” he said. “I lived there for three years and three months. At that place, three people burned themselves. There was a lot of torture. Actually, there was everything.”
Xelil also spoke of someone he knew there, who never made it out alive: “There was someone who got arrested in a conflict. We didn’t know his name. He didn’t reveal his name, either to us or the gangs. He didn’t say it, no matter what they did to him. Actually, so many friends gave up and revealed their names, because we were all buried down there. But he didn’t. He was badly wounded. He was suffering so much that he wasn’t able to stand up, sit, or even eat. His hometown was Kobanê. They took him away later. A few times, we tried to get information about him, and send him some stuff to eat or wear. And then, unfortunately, we heard that he was martyred.”