We demand international investigation of crimes committed in Afrin since Turkish takeover

Mazloum Kobane

Mazloum Abdi, SDF General Commander-in-Chief

Qamishli – North-Press Agency 

On Thursday, the Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) Commander-in-Chief, Mazloum Abdi, called for an international investigation of  what he described as “crimes committed in the Afrin region, northwestern Syria since the Turkish army and its affiliated groups took control of it, two years ago.”

In an interview with North-Press, Mazloum Abdi said that the latest “terrorist” bombing that killed dozens of innocent people in the city of Afrin, is the result of the policy of destruction which has been pursued by “the Turkish occupation forces and its mercenaries” in the city. 

Last Tuesday, more than 60 people were killed and more than 70 others were injured in a bombing in a popular market in the city of Afrin.

Mazloum Abdi said that many reports from international organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch document war crimes and widespread violations by Turkish-backed opposition groups against the people of this city for more than two years, in light of the disregard by Turkish forces, that did not take responsibility “as an occupying force.”

He pointed out that human rights institutions in northeastern Syria have also documented the violations and crimes in the region, and that the SDF has the ability to provide sufficient evidence to condemn Turkey and its affiliated groups with crimes committed in the Afrin region as well as in the regions of Sere-Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tal-Abyad.

Mazloum Abdi called on the United Nations and the guarantor powers in Syria, led by the United States and Russia, “to support an international resolution to conduct an investigation regarding the bombing that hit Afrin two days ago.” 

Mazloum Abdi said that conducting an investigation about the Afrin bombing and the rest of the violations in this region “will show the falseness of Turkey’s accusations against our forces which it made shortly after the bombing.”

“It is not surprising that Ankara may take advantage of the incident with the aim of launching an offensive against new Syrian areas, something it had previously done prior to the aggression against other areas in Syria,” Mazloum Abdi said. 

What is happening in the occupied territories of Northern Syria?

ANF

While the terror of the occupying troops and their militias against the civilian population in cities such as al-Bab, Jarablus and Azaz continues, there are repeated conflicts among the aggressors.

The Turkish state occupies large parts of northern and eastern Syria. The occupied territories are de facto linked to the Turkish administration by provincial governors and are dominated by militias commanded by Turkey. These groups consist largely of the remnants of the ISIS, the former Al-Nusra front, but also of entire jihadist militias such as Ahrar al-Sham or Faylaq al-Sham. Among them, there is regular conflict over looting, territory or plunder. There is a climate of terror. Kidnappings, torture and extra-legal executions are commonplace. These conditions mean that more and more of the original inhabitants have to leave the region. Loyal settlers are being accommodated in their place.

Assimilation policy in Kurdish villages

The rest of the Kurdish population is subjected to an assimilation campaign. There are reports from al-Bab and Jarablus, for example, which speak of forced assemblies of the village population by the Turkish secret service MIT. At these gatherings, under the motto of “education”, the inhabitants of the region are repeatedly told that they are not Kurds at all, but actually Turkmen. The young people are forced to join the extreme right-wing or Islamist “Turkmen” militias. In this context, the Suleiman Shah Brigade, the Sultan Murad Brigade and the jihadist “Islamic Party of Turkestan” play a particularly important role.

ISIS jihadists with Turkish identity cards

Even captured ISIS jihadists have repeatedly reported on the activities of ISIS members in the service of the occupation forces in the region. This often results in serious attacks against the population. On November 18, there were strong protests against such attacks in al-Bab.

Forced participation in Turkish lessons

Secret service representatives put pressure on the population to join the notorious militia “Islamic Party of Turkestan”. At the same time, attempts are being made to incite the Kurdish and Arab peoples against each other. In the schools, over which Turkish flags are waving and pictures of Erdoğan are hung, Turkish is taught by force. The Turkish lira was introduced as a compulsory currency in the region.

Settlement policy around Afrin

Last year, a Turkmen belt was also created from Shera to Bilbile district of Afrin. Loyal Turkmen settlers from East Ghouta and other regions of Syria were settled there.

Clashes among the occupying forces

Some jihadist militias, who have faithfully served Turkey for years on the front line, have recently begun to refuse orders and protest. Among these groups are the SNA militias Ahrar al-Sarqiya and Jaysh al-Sharqiya. Both groups are on international terrorist lists and have been responsible for the most serious war crimes for years. The Turkish state is trying to get rid of the groups by sending them to Libya to support the Muslim Brotherhood regime. However, many members of these militias are not prepared to go into the hopeless fight against General Haftar, who has been upgraded by Russia, and are now turning against the Turkish state. In places like al-Bab, Afrin and Azaz, the Turkish state has ordered its Turkmen militias to disband these two groups because they did not obey the orders. As a result, there have been fierce clashes between the militias in recent days. The most recent heavy tanker attack in Afrin, in which more than 40 civilians died, must also be seen against this background. In al-Bab, Jarablus and Afrin there are also repeated battles lasting for hours.

Preparations for annexation underway

Hüseyin Velo from al-Bab appeals to the international community to finally do something about Turkey’s inhumane policy in the region: “A Turkmen identity is being forced upon the Kurds and Arabs here in the region. They want to do exactly the same thing as they did in Hatay. The demographic structure has already been changed in Turkey’s favor. All persons who identify themselves as Turkmen are given jobs, while the rest are condemned to starvation.”

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