The village of Soghana, south of Afrin has been resisting the near-continuous ground shelling on its houses for more than 500 days, where some 600 people from the village and Afrin IDPs who fled after their displacement in March of 2018 have been abandoned, leaving behind their houses and olive trees. A year and a half, Soghana village, south of Afrin has been shelled almost daily by artillery shells fired by Syrian armed opposition groups and the Turkish military, which are based in the neighboring village of Kemar, overlooking the city of Afrin. The shelling caused the displacement of more than 150 families from the village, the destruction of several houses and the injury of dozens of residents, including several women and a child. The shelling didn't result in the killing of any of the villagers, due to their sheltering in the caves and basements which spread in the village, but the intensive shelling on the village in the last two months, forced the residents to evacuate it. On 8 of August, the Turkish-backed armed opposition groups targeted the village with 100 mortar shells, injuring 4 people from the same family, including a child, while another bombing in February injured a similar number.
Soghana out of control
Turkish military couldn’t impose its grip on Soghana village when it began its military offensive to control the region of Afrin in January 2018, so it was taken over by the Syrian government forces after the withdrawal of People’s Protection Units (YPG) from it. The presence of the government forces in the village wasn't an obstacle for Turkey and its affiliated armed groups from being targeted almost daily by shells, till Soghana became a village without its inhabitants. The village is less than 2 km away from the areas under the control of Turkey in Afrin region, to be the dividing line between Turkey and the Syrian armed opposition groups on one hand, and the Syrian government forces on the other. The closure of its location to the predominantly Shiite towns of Nubl and al-Zahraa also prevented Turkey from imposing its grip on it, in addition to some other villages such as Aqiba, Ziyara, al-Khirba, Zarna'it, Mayasa, Burj al-Qas and Bashamra, where these villages form a geographical protecting ring around the towns from the area controlled by Turkey and the armed groups. Residents of the village consider that, the distribution between the forces of the two sides indicates to a coordination with the Syrian government during the invasion of Afrin region and identifying the villages which Turkey shouldn't approach. They also see their neighborhood with Nubl and al-Zahraa as a "stroke of luck", to prevent Turkish control over it, while others consider this neighborhood as "unlucky", due to the daily heavy shelling. Aytan Mamo, a resident of Soghana village, whose house was destroyed by the shelling, told North-Press that, "Shells were pouring on the village like showers, where a shell hit my house and was completely destroyed". Mamo wondered where to go after her house was destroyed, saying: "We have been displaced, how will we live and make our living from now on?!" She asserted that, they left their village when 130 shells hit the village in one day, wishing to return to her village and land.
Burning agricultural crops Last summer, Turkish-backed armed groups set fire to agricultural crops such as wheat, barley, lentils and olive trees in the village, and residents rushed in futile attempts to put it out, where the armed groups shot at anyone who tried to approach the fire then. While the wind speed contributed to the intensification of the fire, turning their annual crops to ashes after hours. “All of our land was burned, nothing left, they burned figs and olive trees", Ahmad Mohammad said, whose 40 sheep were stolen by Turkish-backed armed groups based in the village of Kemar. Mohammad pointed out that, the armed groups burned about 9 hectares of his wheat and barley crops, noting that, during the past period and as a result of the heavy shelling they were hiding in caves and basements.
Belt mines The village is surrounded by a belt of mines on several sides, which resulted in the killing of three people from the village and the injury of a woman. As mines turned the village into a large prison, preventing the local villagers from going to their lands, which are located next to areas controlled by Turkey and its backed armed groups for fear of exploding mines. Mohammad added that, the village is surrounded by mines on all sides, saying: "We couldn't go to our lands, the village is surrounded by mines". Mohammad isn't surprised of the abuses committed by the Syrian opposition groups and the Turkish military, saying: "It's the enemy. We don't know what they'll do, too", wondering again: "But what does they want from us? where should we go from their deeds?" Soghana is still subjected to the daily shelling, despite the displacement of its residents, in addition to more than 350,000 IDPs from Afrin, who have been displaced to different parts of Aleppo and the rest of Syrian regions.