UN office calls on Turkish-backed groups to spare civilians from conflict
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Saturday expressed concerns over infighting in Turkish-controlled areas and called on the groups to spare civilian lives.
“An escalation in hostilities in northern Syria this month has resulted in the deaths and injuries of civilians. This worrying development was also marked by the targeted killing in eastern rural Aleppo of a social media activist and his pregnant wife,” OHCHR said.
“We are very concerned for the wider population affected by the fighting, as well as further mass displacement of civilians.”
Read More: HTS takes over more villages near Afrin
“We fear this latest rise in hostilities involving a number of parties, particularly Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and some of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, could spread and impact other areas in northern Syria, including Aleppo and Idlib,” the OHCHR said.
On 7 October, a social media activist Muhammad Abdullatif, known as Abu Ghannoum, and his pregnant wife were shot and killed in the al-Sinaa area of al-Bab city.
After this infighting between rival Turkish-backed groups spread to other areas, resulting in the HTS takeover of Afrin. The HTS also attempted to enter Azaz, but was stopped by protests in Azaz and Turkish opposition.
Read More: HTS continues arrests in Afrin
“Subsequently, over a seven-day period from October 12 to 18, our Office verified the killing of at least seven civilians, including four women and three children, in northern Syria. At least 11 others were injured—two women, seven men, and two children. The total number of civilians killed and injured may be higher,” the OCHR said.
“It is essential that parties to the conflict take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects in the conduct of hostilities and adopt all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to civilian objects,” the UN office said.
Moreover, the OCHR called on “all States, particularly those that control armed groups or have influence over parties to the conflict, to use their power to ensure a de-escalation of military operations and the protection of civilians in northern Syria.”