AFRIN (Kurdistan 24) – A group of Syrian militants has killed a Kurdish man after abducting him and two of his family members in Syria’s northwest region of Afrin, a war monitor said on Wednesday.
“The armed group kidnapped Sharaf al-Din Siddo and Rashid Hamid Khalil and his child with special needs while they were in the town of Izzaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo about two weeks ago,” Afrin Media Center (AMC), a Syria-based information office that has been documenting the Turkish assault on Afrin, said on Wednesday.
AMC published a screenshot of the WhatsApp chat by the abductee’s family with the armed group members who said they kidnapped Siddo because “he works for the PKK,” or Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
The Turkish-backed militant group threatened to kill the three abductees if their family did not pay an amount of USD 100,000, AMC reported.
The abductee’s family also shared a video on social media on Tuesday, which showed Siddo being tortured and asking his family to sell all his properties to secure the demanded amount.
But the body of one of the abductees, Khalil, was found on Wednesday on the road leading to the village of Qasatl Jendu, with severe signs of torture on his body.
The situation of the other abductees remains unknown.
Since the occupation of Afrin in March 2018, armed groups continue to commit violations and crimes, namely kidnapping, extortion, murder, rape, and looting of property, in addition to the demographic change.
In February, the United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a statement charging that armed groups in Afrin were guilty of war crimes, such as “hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture, and pillage.”
The UN report stated that “the most common violations perpetrated in Afrin involved frequent abductions by armed groups and criminal gangs.”
Forces on the ground continue to make arrests regularly. In early May, the al-Jabha al-Shamiyyah group captured six people, including one woman, in the village of Maabatli in the outskirts of Afrin who they accused of “dealing with YPG [People’s Protection Units],” UK-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
Moreover, the Ahrar al-Sharqiyah faction reportedly beat local Kurds in al-Amara village after accusing them of cooperating with the “self-administration.”
They also forcefully removed a family from a house of their relatives, despite having legal documents showing they had permission to be there that had been issued by the local council in Afrin.
According to SOHR, 2,682 citizens have so far been arrested in Afrin, with 1,087 still being detained. Many of those no longer in custody were only released after their families paid ransom to the Turkish-backed groups, who would send audio or video clips of them to loved ones along with demands for payment.
A report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) from July estimated that most instances of ransom paid in Afrin have ranged between $1,000 to $3,000.
For over 100,000 residents still estimated to be living in Afrin, the worsening economic conditions they have faced after Turkey took the area are a considerable hardship.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany