SOHR documents ongoing violations in Turkish occupied Afrin

The series of violations in “Olive Branch” and “Euphrates Shield” areas seem to be unstoppable as long as Turkish forces and their proxies keep breaching all international laws and charters, SOHR said.

Since Turkish forces and their proxy factions captured several areas in Aleppo, now known as “Olive Branch” and “Euphrates Shield” areas, humanitarian crises have been emerging and worsening gradually, with violations, attacks and explosions occur almost daily. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored and tracked March’s prominent developments in these areas.

Afrin: escalating violations and ongoing arbitrary arrests

As repression is escalating in Turkish-controlled areas in Aleppo countryside, especially in Afrin, Turkish-backed factions have stepped up their daily violations against the region’s people who refused to flee their areas and people displaced to the canton.

SOHR documented the arrest and kidnapping of over 21 civilians, including seven women, in March, in Afrin city and the districts of Ma’batli, Shirawa, Jendires and Raju in Afrin countryside. It is worth noting that the seven women were released after being arrested by the military police near smuggling routs in Bolbol district in Afrin countryside on charge of “illegal entry to Turkey, while the fate of the rest 14 people remained unknown.

It is also worth noting that the release of the women came after the “Revolution Activists Association in Homs” issued a statement demanded the release of the women in no more than 24 hours, or the association’s activists would stage a demonstration denouncing the military police’s “inappropriate” behaviour.

Violations against the people of Afrin are no longer confined to military factions of the “National Army”, but they are now practiced by councils and civil bodies as well.

In this context, local sources in Afrin city informed SOHR that the Turkish-backed local councils issued a public decision, suspending all attorneys issued by the Syrian regime’s departments by displaced people from Afrin, who were forced to flee their areas as a result of “Olive Branch” operation, and lived in regime-held areas. The power of attorneys was issued by displaced people from Afrin to their relatives who chose to stay in the city of Afrin and its surrounding areas to manage their properties.

Local councils required residents to issue power of attorneys from Turkey or European countries so that they could be recognized. With this unannounced decision, the relatives of the displaced persons from Afrin would not be able to manage the properties of their relatives, and all property belonging to the displaced people would be under the management of the Turkish-backed civil councils. As well as properties, including shops, houses and land controlled and entirely managed by Turkish-backed factions, mostly belonging to the displaced people of Afrin.

Furthermore, militiamen of the Turkish-backed “Suqur al-Sham” faction felled more than 400 olive trees in an agricultural orchard in the village of Qazlbash in Bulbul district in Afrin countryside in north-west Aleppo, belonging to a civilian from the region, who has been displaced from the canton due to the military operation.

In Sheikh al-Hadid area in Afrin countryside, however, the Turkish-backed Sulaiman Shah Division, known as “Al-Amshat Brigade”, seized several farmlands, adjacent to each other, belonging to civilians from the region, including displaced people who had fled from “Olive Branch” operation as well as others still present in the area. According to SOHR sources, a camp for displaced people and a military garage would be built on the seized agricultural land by “Al-Amshat” Division.

On March 31, a pharmaceutical plant was opened in Sharran district in rural Afrin, in the presence of the deputy of the Wali of Hatay, officials of the Turkish-backed “Local Council of Afrin” and representatives of Turkish-funded civil organizations. According to the head of the Health Directorate of Afrin, the plant was under direct oversight and supervision of the Health Directorate of Afrin, and it was established by local experts under the needed technical and health standards. The plant was also provided with modern technology and the most advanced production lines and it would participate in providing medicines in local market at affordable prices, as the head of the Health Directorate of Afrin claimed.

These developments coincided with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces’s diligent efforts, at Turkish government’s orders, to get European support for establishing commercial and architectural projects in Afrin, after most of the canton’s residents had been forced to displace, as the Syrian National Coalition aimed to bring back the Syrian refugee, who had fled military operations in several Syrian provinces to Turkey, to Afrin as a part of Turkeys’ demographic change scheme.

According to SOHR sources, the Syrian National Coalition’s attempts to get European support failed.

The series of violations in “Olive Branch” and “Euphrates Shield” areas seem to be unstoppable as long as Turkish forces and their proxies keep breaching all international laws and charters, and with no body being able to put an end to these “grave” violations, despite SOHR repeated warnings about the dreadful humanitarian situation in the region.