Turkish-backed forces arrested 123 individuals in two months: Rights group  

Members of a Turkish-backed militia patrol the Kurdish-majority Syrian city of Afrin. (Photo: AFP)
Members of a Turkish-backed militia patrol the Kurdish-majority Syrian city of Afrin. (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish-backed groups in October and November arrested at least 123 individuals including 15 women in areas under Turkish control, including Afrin, Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tal Abyad, the human rights organization Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) revealed in a report published on Wednesday.

Forty of the arrested have since been released, while 83 remain unaccounted for, including the women.

The majority of the individuals were arrested in Afrin, where Turkish-backed Syrian National Army factions arrested at least 100 people, including 13 women, across seven of the area’s districts.

“Only 30 detainees were released, while the remaining 70 continue to be unaccounted for,” the report said.

In Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tal Abyad at least 23 people were arrested, including two women.

Turkish-backed factions have controlled Afrin since March 2018, when the Turkish army launched a cross-border offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which had held the area since 2012.

Moreover, Turkish-backed groups have also controlled the border towns of Ras al-Ain (Serekaniye) and Tal Abyad since October 2019, when the Turkish army and their affiliated Syrian rebel groups launched a military operation against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Since then there have been regular reports of arrests and abuse of civilians in those border towns.

Human rights organizations have accused Turkish-backed groups operating in the area of committing war crimes, including intentional ethnic cleansing, kidnapping for ransom, and gender-based violence.

A report issued in September by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria also stated that the Turkish-supported SNA continues to unlawfully arrest Kurdish citizens in areas under their control, including in Tal Abyad, Afrin, and Serekaniye.

Read More: UN report adds to claims that Turkish-backed militias are committing war crimes in Syria

In September, four Syrian organizations called on the United Nations to pressure Turkey to put an end to arbitrary arrests in northern Syria by Turkish-backed armed groups.