Turkish-backed forces arrested 108 persons in August: Rights group

One of the detainees, 35-year-old Ali al-Ahmad, died under torture, according to a report by the human rights group Syrians for Truth and Justice.
Members of the Sultan Murad Division in the city of Afrin in May 2021 (Photo: Syrians for Truth and Justice website)
Members of the Sultan Murad Division in the city of Afrin in May 2021 (Photo: Syrians for Truth and Justice website)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish-backed groups in Syria’s Serekaniye, Tal Abyad, and the Kurdish-majority region of Afrin arrested at least 108 persons in August, said a report by the human rights organization Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) on Thursday.

“The arrests concentrated in the areas of Afrin, Ras al-Ayn/Serê Kaniyê and Tal Abyad, which are controlled by the Turkish army and affiliated factions of the opposition Syrian National Army (SNA),” the group said.

12 of the detainees were released as of 5 September, while the fate of the remaining 95 persons remains unknown, the report noted.

One of the detainees died under torture. Ali al-Ahmad (35) was arrested on August 1 by the Civil Police while trying to illegally cross the border to Turkey in Serekaniye.

“In detention, Ali was tortured by two Civil Police officers,” the report explained. A day later, his health deteriorated, and was transferred to Ras al-Ayn Public Hospital eventually dying on August 3.

A new report issued on Tuesday by the United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria suggests that Turkish-backed groups in the embattled Middle Eastern nation have “committed torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, which constitute war crimes.”

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

It stated that the Turkish-supported SNA continues to unlawfully arrest Kurdish citizens in areas under their control in northern Syria such as in Tal Abyad, Afrin, and Ras al-Ain (Serekaniye).

“While detained, victims were often brought to makeshift facilities run by Syrian National Army brigades at the subdistrict level,” the report stated.

It then detailed that, in exchanges with the UN commission, SNA leadership “stated that it was committed to respecting human rights in places of detention and providing fair trial guarantees,” and that its military judicial system was investigating SNA “elements involved in violations, with a view to holding them accountable.”