The United Nations Syrian Commission of Inquiry report confirms that the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) has been committing war crimes in Afrin and Serêkaniyê, including abductions, disappearances, and gender-based sexual violence. Turkey is also held responsible.
The 25 page report states that violations continue in the region, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, and deaths in custody.
The report explicitly states: “Since 2019, Kurdish women throughout the Afrin and Ra’s al-Ayn [Serêkaniyê] regions have faced acts of intimidation by Syrian National Army brigade members, engendering a pervasive climate of fear which in effect confined them to their homes.
“Women and girls have also been detained by Syrian National Army fighters, and subjected to rape and sexual violence – causing severe physical and psychological harm at the individual level, as well as at the community level, owing to stigma and cultural norms related to ideations of ‘female honour’”.
Deniz Arbet Nejbir from Mesopotamia Human Rights Watch commented on the importance of the report to Yeni Özgür Politika.
Arbet stated that: “For the first time since the Halabja Massacre, it is openly stated that war crimes are committed against Kurds.
“It is written in the report that Turkey is committing two types of war crimes in Afrin. First, through the Syrian National Army that is backed by Turkey, on the soils that are under the control of Turkey. The second one is more important. It is openly stated that Turkey itself is also committing war crimes there”.
Arbet added: “Many people are brought to Turkey from Afrin, and tortured in Turkey’s prisons. The report underlines this. It is very important. This might open the way to President Erdoğan and Minister of National Defence, Hulusi Akar, being charged for these crimes”.
The Commission’s report will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council later this month.