On 20 January 2018, Turkey launched an air and ground campaign dubbed “Olive Branch” in Afrin in Syria with hundreds of Turkish army members and thousands of local militia members participating in the ground campaign.
People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) led by Syrian Kurds and involving fighters from many other peoples from other local communities and internationalist fighters had actively responded to Turkey’s offensive for 59 days, but Turkey took control of the town on 18 March 2018.
There have been many reports regarding Turkey’s war crimes and violation of war laws in Afrin in the last three years. Afrin Activists Network has been one of the local sources reporting the war crimes from Afrin. It recently released a report of war crimes in Afrin committed by the Turkish forces and allied factions between the 21-30 May this year.
The report reveals that in the last nine days, civilians were kidnapped, forests were burnt and properties of locals were seized in Afrin. The war crimes documented by the Network are listed as follows:
- Three citizens were subjected to torture by armed factions and two citizens were kidnapped by the Turkey-backed factions.
- A number of vineyards, forests and farms were seized and burnt by the Turkey-backed factions.
- Four vineyards were seized and two forest areas were burnt.
- The small business owners in three central bazaars of the town were forced to pay tribute money to the factions.
- Kurds living in the city centre of Afrin were forced to sell their homes and ‘migrate’ from Afrin.
- Kurds and Yazidis living nearby were also forced to pay tribute money: they were made to work in the farms that once belonged to them, but which were then seized by the mercenaries.
- Whilst many residential areas were shelled in Shahba, a canton neighbouring Afrin, in the rural Raco and Jarabulus, cars equipped with explosives were blown apart, causing civilian casualties.