311 people detained in Afrin in 2022: SJT

According to the human rights report, 282 of them were released. 
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 northwestern Syria’s Kurdish Afrin region detained at least 311 people in 2022, including 12 women and a child, the human rights organization Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) said in a report on Friday.

The arrests were made by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) in the first half of 2022. According to the report, a total of 282 of them were released. 

Moreover, two of them died from torture.

According to testimonies, most were arrested “either for ransom or for racist purposes.”

However, STJ said that the actual number of detainees is “much larger than 311, since we have no access to the SNA (Syrian National Army) groups’ secret detention centers.”

The report added that Turkish-supported groups arrested 584 people in 2021. 

Bassam al-Ahmad, SJT’s executive director, told Kurdistan 24 that  the armed groups use these arrests to fund themselves.

“Most of the people who have been released had to pay money,” he said. “Some of them paid around $3,000 to be released.”

“Also, there are no operations in Syria, so they need money for themselves to survive,” he added. “So these violations are a tactic to fund themselves, blackmail people to push people to leave the area.”

“It’s a strategy to minimize the number of Kurds in the area, to make the Kurds a minority in Afrin, where they used to be a majority,” he concluded.

Turkish-backed groups have occupied Afrin since March 2018, when the Turkish Army launched a cross-border offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The YPG had previously controlled Afrin since 2012.

The operation displaced tens of thousands of Kurds, who have languished in displacement camps near Tal Rifaat in northern Aleppo ever since. 

Turkey has threatened to launch a new operation that could displace these civilians again. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday to discuss the Ukraine war and a possible Turkish operation in Afrin with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.