'Turkey is committing war crimes against humanity in Afrin'
Turkey and its mercenaries occupied the city of Afrin on March 18, 2018, with a Russian green light, opening the airspace for Turkish warplanes, amid international silence for 58 days of continuous attacks in which Turkey committed dozens of massacres, war crimes against humanity.
In this three-part dossier, we will shed light on the war crimes committed by Turkey and its mercenaries in Afrin since the start of its attacks and until now, making the demographic change process and the resettlement operations of mercenaries and Turkmen in it, in addition to the Turkification policy followed by the occupation state and the cultural genocide committed in Afrin.
'Occupation via deal with Russia'
In its aggression against Afrin, which launched on January 20, 2018, Turkey used all advanced NATO weapons as well as internationally prohibited weapons, and its attacks caused the martyrdom of 869 civilians (257 during the attacks and the rest during its occupation of Afrin), and injured 1,433 civilians, including 742 During the attacks and 691 during 3 years of occupation.
The barbaric attacks on Afrin also caused the displacement of more than 300,000 people from Afrin to al-Shahba areas and camps in the region.
In spite of the brutality of the attacks, the people of Afrin and the YPG, YPJ showed heroic resistance for 58 days against the second largest force in NATO, until their resistance was called “Resistance of the Age.”
In this context, British academic and researcher Dr. Dewin Hawzi says that Russia played main role in opening up the Syrian airspace to Turkish warplanes, which allowed in launching the Turkish attacks.
Hawzi pointed out that Russia "wanted to punish the Kurds because they did not give up the land and resources to al-Assad," adding: "The goal for both Turkey and Russia was to prevent the Kurds from achieving territorial unity between the cantons they declared and political independence."
The British academic and researcher explained that "Afrin has united the two competing parties (Turkey and Russia) and strengthened their relations against the background of the S-400 regime and Turkey's exclusion from the West. For Russia, the relationship with Turkey is more important than the Kurds in Russian foreign policy."
He added, "In his return, Turkey reduced the dangers presented by the opposition that was supporting it against al-Assad, and handed over large areas of the lands that were controlled by the Syrian National Army to the Damascus government.
Today, the majority of the national army is made up of fighters who rarely fight al-Assad as a result of Turkish control. "
Dr. Hawzi pointed out that Russia used the Kurds as a card to put pressure Turkey to concede in other political areas in which the two parties are involved, and continued: “Russia is also using the Turkish threat as capital in talks with the Kurds, Russia is still pressuring the Kurds to submit to al-Assad, but until now they are resisting ".
'Displacement and demographic change after the occupation'
Turkey and its mercenaries continued after the occupation of Afrin, due to their actions against civilians, as hundreds of thousands of the city's residents were displaced, and the Turkmen and the people of al-Ghouta and the rest of the other Syrian areas that were handed over to the Damascus government forces during the deals concluded by Russia and Turkey, in the so-called Astana meetings, which ended the so-called The Syrian opposition turned it into mercenaries in Turkey.
The mercenaries supported by Ankara seized the homes of Afrin people, who were forced to go out to al-Shahba canton, in addition to seizing the homes of the remaining Kurds in Afrin and forcibly removing them from them and resettling others in it.
Sources monitoring the situation in Afrin revealed to ANHA agency that 400,000 settlers from various Syrian regions, including Turkmen and the mercenaries of the National Army of the Turkish occupation, were admitted to the city of Afrin and settled there after the displacement of its people.
With the continuation of the displacement operations, Turkey and its mercenaries have completely changed the demography of the region, as the percentage of Kurds in Afrin after Turkey's occupation of the region does not exceed 20% after it was more than 90%, which was described by the Human Rights Organization in Afrin "as the largest process of demographic change." In Syria since the beginning of the crisis in 2011, based on an agreement between Turkey and Russia.
Commenting on Turkey's policy to change the demography of the region, Ibrahim Sheikho, spokesperson for the Human Rights Organization Afrin-Syria, says that what is happening in the city of Afrin in terms of forcible displacement and resettlement of others in their place, and following the policy of demographic change, is nothing but a policy of Turkification.
Sheikho referred to the state of security chaos as a result of the fighting between Turkey's mercenaries, and says in this regard: "Only unarmed civilians are victims of these practices," in addition to the explosions caused by cars and booby-trapped bombs, where all the areas occupied by Turkey are exposed, including Jarablus, Azaz, al-Bab and Afrin and Idlib is also subject to such violations.
While Dr. Hawzi says: “Since 2017, nearly half a million Kurds have been displaced as a result of Turkish practices, but despite this, the international silence towards the Kurdish plight continues.
The international community ignored Afrin until it reached a point that cannot be ignored. As a society without a state, the Kurds do not have a strong international voice, and therefore international players ignore Afrin because they believe that it is not their problem.
'Torture, murder and kidnapping'
Turkey and its mercenaries continued their crimes against the remaining 20% in the city of Afrin, as the Human Rights Organization in Afrin documented killings, torture, ransom demands, plundering, looting, seizing public and private property, changing the demography of the region and completely imposed Turkification policy.
According to the latest statistics provided by the organization to ANHA agency, the number of citizens who have been kidnapped since the beginning of Turkey's occupation and its mercenaries of Afrin has exceeded 7,457 people, between detainees and kidnappers, including nearly 1,000 women, as some were released in exchange for large ransom payments, and the fate of more than 3,500 people is still unknown until now.
According to the statistics, 400 women, including minors, from Afrin have been subjected to sexual violence and forced marriage by Turkish mercenaries.
On September 15, 2020, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry spoke in a report about the crimes taking place in Afrin and said: “The Syrian National Army has committed war crimes of kidnapping hostages, cruel treatment, torture and rape. In the same area, dozens of civilians were killed and maimed by improvised explosive devices. And during the bombing and missile attacks, in addition to the death of men, women and children while they were in crowded markets, and the widespread looting and the seizure of private lands by the Syrian National Army.
The report stated that "the attack was not limited to individuals only, but also included entire societies and cultures. The (attached) satellite images showed the extent of the destruction and looting of invaluable UNESCO-classified heritage sites."
In this context, Ibrahim Sheikho said: “The report of the International Fact-Finding Commission on the violations and practices committed against the people and city of Afrin by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries is confirmed, and what is happening there can be described as war crimes against humanity, and it can also be described as genocide against the people of Afrin."
For his part, British researcher and academic Dr. Dewin Hawzi says: “The Kurdish population is being persecuted by Turkey’s agents who are running a campaign of chaos under Turkish supervision. As for the so-called Syrian Interim Government, which said that the conditions in Afrin are acceptable, it has no authority. Actually compared to the gangs that do what they want without any consequences and who often fight each other. "
Dr. Hawzi pointed out that the United Nations published a map of detention centers on the first of March 2021 and the large density of prisons in Afrin, and said: “Any accusation of having links with the Autonomous Administration may lead to disappearance.
Thousands of Kurds have been kidnapped or held for ransom by gangs, and this has been documented. Gangs can threaten individuals, and those who do not pay the ransom can hand him over to Turkey and be imprisoned on false charges. "
Dr. Hawzi talked about the crimes that women are exposed to, and said: “Women have severely suffered in particular in Afrin, in which the Women's Protection Units YPJ were formed and were considered the center of women's power, as women rule the area in cooperation with men, and were a contributor to the local economy.
All of this has been eliminated. Today, women cannot leave the house for fear of being kidnapped, murdered, or appearing in the media for fear of being missing.
He pointed out that the elimination of the Kurdish population in Afrin extends to the so-called Kurdish National Council, whose elements are appointed by Turkey in the local councils and who have been kidnapped and killed, and some of them are still missing.
He added: "Horo Osman is only an example. He was appointed by Turkey in the city council of Afrin, and he appeared in an interview on the Turkish channel TRT on October 2, 2019 and then disappeared a few months later, according to sources from The Kurdish National Council, it was arrested by the military police of the Syrian National Army. "
The British academic noted, “The SETA Foundation, affiliated with the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has repeatedly highlighted the strong cooperation between this military police and Turkey, who have unlawfully detained and imprisoned Syrian Kurds in Turkey and against international law.
It is also believed that a number of members of the Kurdish National Council are missing, after they leaked information to the media about the persecution of the Kurds in Afrin, which is occupied by Turkey.
'Stealing, plundering and destroying the environment.'
On the first day of Turkey and its mercenaries' occupation of Afrin, video clips about the stealing and looting that Turkish mercenaries were carrying out in front of the Turkish army's eyes, and transported them to other areas occupied by Turkey, such as the city of Azaz, Jarablus and al-Bab, and selling them there.
In addition to theft and looting, the nature of Afrin, in which there were only 18 million olive trees, and its annual production estimated at 270 thousand tons of olives, was not spared from the terrorism of Turkey and its mercenaries.
According to the statistics obtained by ANHA agency from the Human Rights Organization in Afrin, the Turkish occupation army and its mercenaries, since the beginning of the occupation of Afrin, cut down 315,600 thousand olive and forest trees, and uprooted more than 20 thousand olive trees when the roads were opened and their firewood was traded.
Turkey's mercenaries also burned 15 thousand trees, and also burned an area of about 12 thousand hectares out of an area of 33 thousand hectares allocated for agriculture according to the official Syrian statistics.
The spokesperson for the human rights organization Afrin-Syria, Ibrahim Sheikho reported, according to a resident of the occupied city of Afrin, describing the situation there as "hell", explaining in his turn that the situation is very bad, due to the expensiveness, and the mercenaries 'confiscation of citizens' property, especially what they are witnessing. The city of Afrin has been exposed to cases of kidnapping and ransom payments, not to mention theft, looting and looting.
Sheikho added, "The grave violations that Afrin is subjected to can be considered crimes against humanity."
While the British academic and researcher Dr. Dewin Hawzi says: “What Turkey has done in Afrin is ethnic cleansing by committing the crime of aggression, it has displaced a large number of indigenous people and prevented them from returning to their homes. It has taken their livelihood resources such as olives that have been sold. In international markets. "
He added, "Turkey is also running a campaign to eradicate the Kurdish spirit in Afrin and Turkification policy is no different from what it is doing against the Kurds inside Turkey, as there is no Kurdish language left, Turkish has replaced Kurdish in schools. Kurdish cemeteries have been destroyed. Turkey brought in its settlers to obliterate the Kurdish demographic. "
'From the city of peace to the epicenter of terror'
And in a clear violation of international norms, the Turkish occupation state turned Afrin into a hotbed of terrorism and a starting point for Syrian mercenaries to the countries of the Middle East and Africa to fight in favor of the Turkish agendas.
In this context, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed on November 31, 2019 that Turkish mercenaries had opened centers to register the names of people wishing to go to fight in Libya, through the opening of four centers to attract mercenaries within the headquarters of the mercenaries in the Afrin region.
At that time, an office was opened under the supervision of the al-Hamzat mercenaries in the former Internal Security Forces building, and in the former local administration building under the supervision of the mercenaries of the Levantine Front" Jabhah Shamiyya", and the mercenaries of the Mu'tasim Brigade opened an office in the village of Qibariyeh, and another office was opened in the Mahmoudiya neighborhood under the supervision of the mercenaries of Liwa al-Shamal. During the Karabakh war in September 2020, Turkey and its mercenaries opened new centers there to recruit mercenaries to fight in Azerbaijan against Armenia.
In this context, the British academic and researcher, Dr. Dewin Hawzi says: “There is a recent study in cooperation between the JISS Institutes and TRENDS in Israel and the United Arab Emirates that analyzes the deep relationship between Turkey’s agents who benefit from them to achieve its goals in Syria, Libya and Karabakh, and the Syrian National Army gets its salaries. From Turkey, it benefits from the Turkish flag and the image of the Ottoman Empire similar to that used by SADAT, which considers Erdogan's military organization as a semi-official army of the Muslim Brotherhood.
He emphasized that the threats posed by these groups stemmed from their military training and militant ideas hostile to many of the neighbors. He said, "They are agents that Turkey can use in armed conflicts to evade crimes." Pointing out that Turkey is exploiting the situation of Syrian refugees to turn them into mercenaries, to deploy them in hotbeds of war abroad, pointing out that this method is similar to the "village guards ", where Turkey exploits the poverty of some Kurdish classes to fight with them other Kurds.
Ibrahim Sheikho confirms that Afrin was enjoying calm and safety under the Autonomous Administration, unlike what it was exposed to after the Turkish occupation in 2018, explaining that “in the past, Afrin was composed of the Kurdish majority, while Turkey sought to change this composition by settling Arabs and Turkmen in their place, especially since the city has become a hotbed for Turkish mercenaries to be relaxed and have fun in it. "
'Turkey must be pressured, and its mercenaries prosecuted for their crimes'
The British researcher believes that the international community is slow in its response to Turkey's crimes, and pointed out that the international community has recently denounced the use of mercenaries in Libya and Karabakh only. He said, "The United States should put pressure on Turkey, because it has classified Turkey's proxy, "Jabhat al-Nusra" as a terrorist group, and the latter has merged with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which Turkey cooperates with in Idlib."
He added: "Unless there is international pressure on Turkey, especially with regard to the crimes of the Syrian National Army, the latter continues with its crimes and Turkey is exploiting it."
Ibrahim Sheikho, spokesman for the Human Rights Organization, Afrin-Syria, called for an end to the Turkish occupation of Afrin and all occupied areas, as well as the withdrawal of its forces from the Syrian territories, calling for payment of all necessary compensation for those affected, ensuring the return of civilians to their areas with international guarantees, and prosecuting all Turkish mercenaries for their crimes.