Turkish-backed factions continue to cut olive trees: SOHR

“Although citizens lodged complaints with the National Army factions, the National Army did not move a finger.”
Turkish-backed rebels in Afrin city (Photo: Ömer Alven - AA)
Turkish-backed rebels in Afrin city (Photo: Ömer Alven - AA)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The olive groves in Kafr Shil village and the outskirts of Al-Mahmudiyah neighbourhood in Syria’s Afrin region were partially and completely cut off by unknown gunmen, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitor reported on Sunday.

“Although citizens lodged complaints with the National Army factions, the National Army did not move a finger,” SOHR alleged.

Moreover, SOHR accused the Malek Shah and Sultan Murad Factions of cutting down nearly 120 olive trees in the villages of Kibar in the countryside of Afrin, Kastal Kishk and Maidanki in Sharan district in Afrin countryside.

“These olive trees are owned by three civilians. The stolen firewood was transported to Idlib province to be sold as fire logs for heating,” SOHR said.

Recently, several video’s were posted by activists on social media allegedly showing Turkish-backed factions cutting olive trees. A recent video posted by the Violations Documentation Center (VDC) on Dec. 8 also alleged Sultan Murad cut trees in Afrin. 

Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) occupied Afrin in early 2018 in Operation Olive Branch.

Read More: Turkish-backed armed groups abducted two civilians in Afrin

The occupation has continued amid widespread accusations of war crimes and human rights violations. Rebel factions have also been accused of selling and profiting of Afrin’s rich olive trade.

Furthermore, the SOHR report on Sunday said a member of Al-Mu’tasim Brigade sold a house in Al-Ashrafieh neighbourhood in Afrin for 1,400 USD. The house was originally owned by a resident of Basufan village.

It also said other gunmen sold three homes in Afrin for 2,200 USD.

Also on Friday, the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad faction on Friday heavily beat a media activist in Afrin city, the war monitor SOHR reported on Saturday.

“The man was transferred to the military hospital for treatment, and then was released after his health improved.”

Moreover, SOHR also reported that Ahrar Al-Sharqiyyah fighters kidnapped a civilian in Al-Ashrafieh neighbourhood in Afrin, after the man refused to give cigarette packs for free to members of the faction. 

Read More: HTS enters Afrin city for first time: SOHR

Furthermore, Afrin has become under influence of a jihadist group and it’s local allies within the Syrian National Army (SNA).

In October 2022, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group formerly known as al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and its local allies took control of Afrin from rival rebel factions, such as Jaish al-Islam and Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah.

“A greater number of HTS personnel, including its intelligence apparatus and General Security Service, are now operating in Afrîn and Kafr Janna under the cover of the Hamzat (Hamza Division), Amshat (Sultan Suleiman Shah Division) and Ahrar al-Sham, targeting perceived opponents of HTS,” a recent report of New Lines Institute written by Syria analyst Elizabeth Tsurkov said.