AFRIN, Syria (North Press) - Turkish intelligence launched a wide campaign of arbitrary arrests in the city of Afrin and its countryside in northwestern Syria, arresting 17 Kurdish civilians, local sources said on Wednesday.
The sources reported that the civilians were arrested on charge of being affiliated to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a key ally to the US-led global coalition in fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Syria.
Turkish Ministry of Defense on Tuesday claimed the individuals arrested in Afrin to be members of the SDF and their leading component, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Turkish military and their affiliated Syrian opposition armed groups are committing demographic change in the region by seizing the houses and farms of the indigenous people and selling them to the new Arab settlers who brought by Turkish-backed opposition from Idlib and Ghouta.
To legalize this, Turkish forces issued instructions that all buying and selling of properties must go through the Real Estate Documentation Department which was formed by Turkish military.
Last week, a quarterly report, covering the period April-June 2020, was prepared by the Inspectors General of the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of State (DoS), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), stated its concern regarding reports of human rights abuses in Afrin, including the desecration of several Yezidi shrines, kidnapping for ransom of Yezidi and Kurdish women, and looting and vandalizing of homes and archaeological sites.
Several human rights organizations and media outlets have documented multiple credible claims that since the occupation of Afrin began in March 2018, Turkish-backed armed groups have regularly committed various violations and war crimes, primary among them ethnic cleansing, kidnapping, extortion, murder, rape, and the looting and destruction of property.
In February 2019, the United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a report charging that armed groups in Afrin were guilty of war crimes, including “hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture, and pillage.”
It stated that “the most common violations perpetrated in Afrin involved frequent abductions by armed groups and criminal gangs.”
(Reporting by Juan Shkaki; Editing by Hisham Arafat)