Syrian rebel commander kills sheep of Kurdish shepherd in Afrin after dispute
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A commander of the Hamza Division, a Syrian rebel contingent, killed sheep belonging to a shepherd in the Bulbul district of Afrin on Friday after a dispute between the two sides over money, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Saturday.
“The incident followed a dispute between the shepherd and the commander over money paid by the shepherd in return for renting an olive grove which had been seized by the commander,” the SOHR report said. “Moreover, the commander stole nearly 15 sheep.”
The shepherds appealed to the “Rights Restitution Committee” to intervene and put an end to the violations by the Al-Hamza Division.
Last year, Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) factions formed the “Joint Committee for the Restoration of Rights” to return stolen properties to their owners.
However, a report released in March by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, detailed accounts of “retaliatory acts by individual Syrian National Army members against owners who had lodged complaints for property restitution or compensation, including verbal threats, beatings and abduction."
The SOHR report added that members of the same faction, the Al-Hamza Division, cut down nearly 35 olive trees in the Jendires district, belonging to a civilian from the Qarbah village.
SOHR also reported that members of the Al-Mu’tasem faction, which controls the Za’rah village in the Bulbul district, have seized an olive grove belonging to a displaced civilian. Disregarding the authorization documents granted by the local council to one of the civilian’s relatives, the Al-Mu’tasem faction appropriated the olive trees under the pretext that “these documents are not legal.”
Turkish-backed factions have occupied Afrin since March 2018, when the Turkish Army launched a cross-border offensive against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
Since then, civilians have faced kidnappings and arrests, often for ransom.
In its annual report on human rights for Syria, the US State Department said on Tuesday that armed Syrian opposition groups supported by Turkey in the northern region of the country “committed human rights abuses, reportedly targeting Kurdish and Yezidi residents and other civilians.”
The abuses include “extrajudicial killings; the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of civilians; torture; sexual violence; forced evacuations from homes; looting and seizure of private property; transfer of detained civilians across the border into Turkey; recruitment of child soldiers; and the looting and desecration of religious shrines.”
The US State Department report said that the Ministry of Defense of the Syrian Interim Government “investigated claims of abuses committed by the armed Syrian opposition groups supported by Turkey that make up the Syrian National Army.”
The report added that in “September the Syrian Interim Government created a new office to investigate allegations of human rights violations and reported that its military courts issued verdicts in 169 cases.”