Turkey’s recent threats against north and east Syria will have repercussions similar to that which occurred in Afrin in 2018, advocacy group Human Rights Organisation Afrin (HRO-A) said on Wednesday.
Turkey’s efforts to establish a so-called ‘safe zone’ in Syrian territory along its southern border will further change the demographic makeup of the area under its control, the group said.
The safe zone stands to displace more than 150,000 people from Afrin and Tel Rifaat, it said.
Forced displacement of populations is a war crime, HRO-A said. The act could, depending on the severity of methods, also constitute a crime against humanity and the crime of genocide under Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, according to the group.
Turkey occupied Afrin and the neighbouring area in 2018 with its Operation Olive Branch. Most residents of the Kurdish-majority city fled to the Shahba region at the time.
Since the occupation, Turkey has changed place names, started to offer public services in Turkish instead of Kurdish, taking over hospitals and schools and flying the Turkish flag at these facilities.
On 23 May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled a new operation into northern Syria.
“We will soon take new steps regarding the incomplete portions of the project we started on the 30 km deep safe zone we established along our southern border,” he said.
Turkey will soon launch a new phase in its invasion of Syria, Erdoğan told his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies in the weekly parliamentary group meeting on 1 June.