Turkey’s SNA arrests 300 Syrians in 2024 – Advocacy group

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – Turkish forces and their affiliated armed opposition factions, aka the Syrian National Army (SNA), arrested 308 people in northern Syria during the first five months of 2024, a human rights NGO said on Wednesday.

Synergy/Hevdesti Association, a victims’ advocacy group operating in Northeast Syria, said during the first five months of 2024 the Turkish forces and the SNA factions arrested at least 308 people, including 13 women and five children.

The association indicated that the arrests took place in the areas of Afrin in northwestern Syria and in both Tel Abyad and Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) in northern Syria. The three areas are controlled by the SNA factions and are under the Turkish occupation.

Synergy added that 103 out of the total toll of the arrestees were released while the fate of 205 people remains unknown. 

According to the association the number has increased in comparison with the first five months of 2023, where 155 people were arrested at the time.

Synergy reported that 129 of the arrestees are from Tel Abyad and Sere Kaniye, and 179 from Afrin.

Tel Abyad and Sere Kaniye have been under the Turkish occupation since 2019 following a military operation dubbed “Peace Spring”, while Afrin was occupied in 2018 after the so-called “Olive Branch” operation. Both operations were launched by the Turkish forces and the SNA factions that pushed away the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) under the pretext of protecting the Turkish “national security.”

Both operations resulted in casualties and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of the original people, the majority of them were Kurds.

Since then, the areas have witnessed arbitrary detention and forcible disappearance with the aim of extorting the victims and their families to get financial ransoms, and intimidating them to push them to leave their hometown.

Synergy also documented the arrest of 114 asylum seekers who were subjected to torture and cruel treatment by the Turkish border guards.

It indicated that the fate of 36 out of the 114 “is still unaccounted for.”

“The continuing, recurrence, and escalation of arbitrary arrests in these territories affirms that these practices are not isolated or random incidents, rather, they are part of a widespread systematic pattern,” the Synergy report read.  

“These ongoing violations clearly refers to a suppressive systematic policy, aiming to intimidate the locals, particularly the Kurds, and forcing them to leave their original places of residence, or reluctantly accepting financial extortion in exchange for their freedom.”

By Jwan Shekaki