SOHR reports violations in “Peace Spring” areas in February

SOHR calls upon the international community not to abandon its responsibility and obligations and find a lasting solution to the tragedy of the region’s civilians.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) announced the developments and violations committed in “Peace Spring” areas in February 2021.

The observatory pointed out that; “Violations against human rights have been escalating in areas under the control of Turkish forces and their proxy factions in Al-Hasakah and Al-Raqqah, known as “Peace Spring” areas since they were captured in October 2019. These forces’ aim is to accomplish specific economic and political objectives through exploiting the region’s bounties, resources and people.”

Some of the violations committed in “Peace Spring” areas in February 2021 are as follows;

In February, 14 people were killed in “Peace Spring” areas.

“Peace Spring” areas experienced four explosions in February, 2021, three of which took place in the city of Ras al-Ain (Sere Kaniye) and one explosion in the countryside of Tel Tamer, which left eight people dead and 13 others injured.

On the other hand, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored five incidents of armed clashes between Turkish-backed factions, following disputes over power, sharing properties, stolen goods and personal reasons. A member of the Turkish-backed “Al-Mu’tasim Division” was killed and others were injured in clashes between a group of “Al-Mu’tasim Division” and another group of “Al-Hamzah Division” over revenue-sharing and civilian houses possession in Ras Al-Ain city. 

According to SOHR sources, a commander of Al-Hamzah Division from Deir Ezzor province has seized nearly 20 houses in the city, while the dispute began when members of Al-Mu’tasim Division asked that commander to give them some of these houses.

On February 10, Syrian Observatory activists monitored fierce clashes with machineguns between the factions of “Malek Shah” and “Sultan Murad” in Tal Halaf town. During the clashes, the brother of a commander of “Sultan Murad” was killed, while five others, including civilians, were injured.

According to SOHR sources, forces of the military police have closed all entrances of the town, so that they can prevent the two factions from bringing military reinforcement from Ras Al-Ain city. Also, the village of Al-Arisha in the same countryside witnessed clashes between two groups belonging to the “Sultan Murad”, which resulted in injuries on both sides. Meanwhile, the reasons behind these clashes remained unknown.

The fourth incident took place in Ras al-Ain city, where clashes took place between al-Hamza Division and civilian police, while the latest incident took place in the town of Tal Abyad, north of Raqqa, where clashes took place between members of the Al-Jabha al-Shamiya faction, leaving three members injured, amid panic among civilians as a result of clashes in residential neighbourhoods.

Ongoing violations with Turkish consent

People in “Peace Spring” areas in Al-Hasakah and Al-Raqqah countryside are suffering from the Turkish-backed factions’ escalating influence and violations, at a time when Turkish forces seem indifferent to and satisfied with such violations. The Syrian Observatory documented over 31 arbitrary arrests in February carried out by factions operating in “Peace Spring” areas, mainly “Al-Hamzah Division”. These arrested were accused of “dealing with SDF”.

In February, the Syrian Observatory monitored a number of violations against civilians, some of which include seizing or burning down the houses of displaced people.

Furthermore, Turkish-backed factions continue excavating and tampering with Syrian archaeological sites in the areas of the “Peace Spring” and the rest of the Syrian provinces. In this context, SOHR sources said that Turkish forces and their proxy factions continued digging and excavation work in Sahlan archaeological hill and other sites in Meshrefah and Al-Hassoun villages in the eastern countryside of Tel Abyad in al-Raqqah countryside, Tel Aswad hill and other positions in Al-Doughaniyyah in the south Tel Abyad countryside, and Tal Akhdar in western Tel Abyad.

 According to SOHR sources, Turkish forces have found treasures and antiquities in Sahlan hill, taking them to unknown destination.

“Overall, this bleak picture remains in place with the widespread corruption and tyranny of the Turkish-backed factions without any deterrent preventing them from committing further humanitarian crimes against Syrian civilians in the “Peace Spring” areas,” the observatory said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights renewed its call to the international community not to abandon its responsibility and obligations and find a lasting solution to the tragedy of the region’s civilians that are plagued with systematic practices and violations committed by lawless factions, including thefts, murders, looting, arrests and kidnappings.