Four more civilians kidnapped in Turkish-occupied Afrin

The crimes perpetrated by the Turkish state and its mercenaries against the people and the environment in Afrin continue.

The paramilitary criminal network “Civil Police” established by the Turkish state in the occupied zone in North-East Syria kidnapped two civilians from the village of Dêr Balûtê in Jindires district.

The civilians identified as Ebdulhemîd Îsmaîl Melîx (71) and Xelîl Yusif Xelîl (74) were taken to an undisclosed location and their aftermath remains unknown.

On the other hand, the Turkish intelligence service kidnapped 54-year-old Mihemed Mihemed from the village of Ebêdan in Bilbile district.

23-year-old Mıhemed Silêman Dada was kidnapped from the village of Uga, also in Bilbile district.

In a statement on 1 October, the Human Rights Organization Afrin-Syrian reported the abduction of three civilians, including a woman, from a village in Mabata district.

Afrin Canton was the westernmost canton of Rojava and North and East Syria, home to 200,000 ethnic Kurds. Though the population was overwhelmingly Kurdish, it was home to diverse religious groups including Yazidis, Alawites and Christians alongside Sunni Muslims.

On 20 January 2018, Turkey launched air strikes on 100 locations in Afrin, as the onset of an invasion they dubbed ‘Operation Olive Branch.’

The Turkish Airforce indiscriminately shelled civilians as well as YPG/YPJ positions, while a ground assault was carried out by factions and militias organised under the umbrella of the Turkish-backed National Army.

By 15 March, Turkish-backed militias had encircled Afrin city and placed it under artillery bombardment. A Turkish airstrike struck the city’s only functioning hospital, killing 16 civilians.

Civilians fled and the SDF retreated, and by 18 March Turkey was in de facto occupation of Afrin. Between 400 and 500 civilians died in the invasion, overwhelmingly as a result of Turkish bombing. Other civilians were summarily executed in the field.

Prior to the Turkish invasion, Afrin had been one of the most peaceful and secure parts of Syria, virtually never seeing combat during the civil war bar occasional skirmishes between YPG/YPJ and jihadi forces on its borders. As a result, Afrin offered peaceful sanctuary to over 300,000 internally displaced people from elsewhere in Syria.