Turkish-backed forces in Afrin arrested 584 people in 2021: Rights group
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish-backed groups in Syria's Kurdish-majority region of Afrin arrested at least 584 persons in 2021, according to a report by the human rights organization Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) published on Tuesday.
"Tracking the fate of the detainees, STJ recorded the release of only 123 and the death of at least one of the incarcerated persons in detention facilities run by Turkey-backed Syrian armed opposition groups," STJ said.
According to the organization, the arrests were mostly for political reasons, including cases where "victims were arrested for the simple fact that they were Kurds."
"In other cases, perpetrators were motivated by money, holding detainees to blackmail them and force them into paying ransoms of varying amounts," STJ said.
"Other perpetrators were motivated by plans for demographic-change, where they used detentions and the threat of detention to scare indigenous communities into leaving their homes."
STJ said it failed to obtain information on the current whereabouts of the 451 individuals still in custody.
It said the detainees do not include those held in secret detention sites by armed groups. As a result, it believes that the actual number of detainees is likely greater.
STJ said that there are currently 1,350 detainees in the central prisons and the official detention centers run by the Syrian Interim Government (SIJ) in Afrin, based on criminal and non-criminal charges between 2018 and 2021.
Turkish-backed factions have occupied Afrin since March 2018, when Turkey invaded the enclave in a cross-border offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which had controlled the area since 2012.
Since then, Turkish-backed factions have subjected many of Afrin's civilian inhabitants to human rights abuses, also documented by human rights organizations.
On Wednesday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that Turkish-backed factions recently arrested three civilians in the occupied Kurdish enclave.