Turkish-backed forces arrested 26 in Syria’s Afrin in April: Rights group

Up until May 3, Turkish-backed militias had only released 14 of the detainees, Syrians for Truth and Justice reports.
Turkish-backed groups in Afrin (Photo: AFP)
Turkish-backed groups in Afrin (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - According to a report released by the human rights organization Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) on Wednesday, Turkish-backed groups in Syria’s Kurdish-majority region of Afrin arrested at least 26 individuals in April 2021.

“STJ documented that the Military Police, operated by the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA), arrested at least 26 persons. On the day of reporting, 3 May 2021, the perpetrators had released 14 detainees, while the fate of the remaining 12 remained unknown,” the report said.

The report stated that the number of arrests in Afrin has decreased during the holy month of Ramadan.

The STJ said it relies “on its network of researchers, civil sources, eyewitnesses, and sources from within the SNA to document arrests and releases across Afrin, aggregating evidence and information into a designated database.”

Turkish-backed factions have controlled Afrin since March 2018, when the Turkish army launched a cross-border offensive to target the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which controlled the area from 2012 till then. The operation killed scores of civilians and forced thousands of Kurds to flee their homes.

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.

Read More: UN report suggests Turkish-backed groups commit war crimes in Afrin

Afrin has been plagued by regular attacks on Turkish-backed forces and indiscriminate bombings that have also killed civilians.

The area sees frequent infighting between rival factions that also lead to civilian deaths.

Editing by Khrush Najari