Before Turkey and Ankara-backed local armed mercenaries took control of Afrin (Efrîn), it had been under the control of the People’s Defense Units (YPG) since 2012, the Kurdish city has been subjected to continuous destruction and citizens to human rights abuses.
As a result of the Turkish armed forces military Operation Olive Branch, the Syrian Democratic Forces withdrew from Afrin on 17 March 2018. Turkish Armed Forces and other military forces aligned to them, namely the Syrian National Army, captured Afrin the next day.
Widespread human rights abuses by the Turkish armed forces and its backed militias were reported to have taken place during the capture of the city.
Women in particular have become the target of the occupying forces through gender-based sexual violence, rape, forced marriage, killing and kidnapping. Whilst more than a thousand women are estimated to have been kidnapped, the fate of hundreds of women remains unknown.
90 percent of the Afrin population was Kurdish before the occupation. However the demographic structure of the city has now been drastically changed. The Kurdish majority town has been depopulated by systematic pressure on the Kurdish residents, which has caused 300,000 Kurdish residents to migrate.
The residents of Afrin who had to migrate settled in the Shahba Canton and formed a refugee camp there. They have been living in tents for the last 3 years and waiting to everntually return to their homes. Meanwhile, the families of the mercenaries have come from various cities of Syria and settled in Afrin.
Turkish is the mandatory language of instruction in all schools of Afrin now. The Kurdish names of settlements, streets, and squares were also changed with Turkish ones and education in Kurdish is banned in the city
The cultural and historical heritage of the city was also destroyed, as well as the nature.
All agricultural production of the residents is appropriated by the invaders and sold to other states. Whilst 11 thousand hectares of agricultural land was burned to the ground, over 3000 thousand olive trees, which have been the symbols of the natural wealth of Afrin, were cut down.