ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A new video published by the independent Afrin Media Center on Thursday shows a Kurdish villager being shot in the leg by rebels to blackmail his family.
According to the Center, the video shows civilian Ahmed Sheikho being shot at his leg by “the mercenaries of pro-Turkish occupation battalions” so his family can be blackmailed “to pay a ransom in Afrin.”
A report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for June details large-scale rights abuses in areas under Turkish control, including abductions for ransom.
“OHCHR has documented at least 11 cases in which civilians including women and children were abducted, some of them later released after paying ransoms ranging between USD 1,000 to 3,000, while the whereabouts of others remain unknown,” the report said.
Ilham Ahmed, the co-head of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), also confirmed in an interview with Kurdistan 24 that Turkish-backed militants continue to carry out human rights abuses, including kidnappings.
“There are a lot of violations like cutting trees, burning forests, destroying villages, kidnapping people, and even rapes.”
Turkey and its Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels began a military campaign on Jan. 20 against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), then in control of Afrin, located in Syria’s northwestern region.
After months of bombardment, which killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands more, the enclave was eventually overrun by the Turkish army and FSA forces on March 18.
Since then, Afrin’s civilians have been victims of several human rights violations committed by the Turkish-backed groups, and have witnessed infighting between the several factions backed by Turkey.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) in August claimed that rebel groups had kidnapped 1,000 civilians from Afrin since March.
About half of them are reported to have been released after paying bribes or ransom money.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany