Ras al-Ain: residents flee violations of the “National Army”, Turkish-backed factions loot “Alia” Silos and change “Roj” hospital name into “Ras al-Ain hospital”

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,

November 2019

The areas that fall under the control of the Turkish forces and their affiliates are still witnessing catastrophic conditions, in light of the ongoing violations carried out by the members of the so-called “Syrian National Army” against the remaining inhabitants of these areas, especially “Ras Al-Ain”, which witnesses multiple violations against civilians, in an attempt to sow terror and fear into the hearts of the remaining residents to force them to leave. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights continues to document these abuses, hoping to be heeded by the international community to stop abuses against Syrians, which are part of an endless list of abuses suffered by Syrians over the past eight years of crisis.

In an attempt by Turkish forces and their loyal factions to tighten their grip over all areas under their control; there are intensive violations against civilians in Ras al-Ain and the western villages surrounding the city. Hardly a day passes without these Turkish-backed factions exert pressure and violations against the rest of the population of the city, in order to displace them and force them to leave. A reliable source told the SOHR that the Turkish-backed factions not only are confiscating the homes of the displaced who fled the war in the region, but also confiscated agricultural projects for civilians, and agricultural tractors and fuel tanks.

The Syrian Observatory monitored a mass flight of residents of Umm Eshba village in the eastern countryside of Ras al-Ayn, as a result of the inhuman violations perpetrated by members of the “Soqour al-Shamal” faction led by “Abulaila Al-Homsi”. Among the violations carried out by those factions; the SOHR learned that “al-Hamzat squad” are stealing the wheat reserves of “Alia” silos in the countryside of Ras al-Ain, as they transfer all the wheat they steal into Turkey, resulting in an almost complete lack of bread in the city. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has learned through reliable sources that the pro-Turkish factions have changed the name of “Roj” Hospital into “Ras al-Ain Hospital”, where they obscured everything related to the old name of the hospital and raised new signs.

Sources of the Syrian Observatory monitored continuous violations against civilians, where the sources confirmed that these violations are aimed to force those who remain in the region to leave, especially with the spread of the phenomenon of detention without reasons and under the pretexts and malicious accusations, in addition to the widespread phenomenon of kidnapping citizens in order to force relatives to pay ransoms in exchange for their release, similar to the ongoing violations against civilians in Afrin since the its fall under the control of Turkish forces and Turkish-backed factions within the Operation “Olive Branch” launched by Turkey in January 2018. According to reliable sources, all houses which were confiscated by Turkish-backed factions, were awarded to some of the factions’ families, in an attempt to settle them in place of the indigenous inhabitants of the city.

“Gunmen of Jaysh al-Islam were seen during their participation in the Turkish military operation ‘Peace Spring’ within the factions of the so-called National Army”, sources told the SOHR, “Members of the faction were seen wandering in Ras al-Ain with Turkish support and protection. They were making fun of and mocking the owner of a small shop who remained at the town. They took over the shop, and the goal of all this is to scare and sow panic in the hearts of the villagers”.

According to reliable sources, Ras al-Ain is witnessing catastrophic cases of violations, and there is no single house left unaffected by these abuses and atrocities committed against civilians who remained in the city. Even the Syrian Red Cross teams are banned from entering the city to provide assistance. There is also a major crisis in drinking water, where citizens are buying water in exchange of huge sums of money. “Alouk water station in Ras al-Ain covers a large number of areas with drinking water, including the city of al-Hasakah, which is crowded with displaced people fleeing the Turkish military operation, but the station stopped working, and three engineers were arrested, which led to a catastrophic conditions in al-Hasakah. The self-administration in the city is working to solve it by activating the dam water, but it is not drinkable because of the lack of sterilization devices, which forced the people to buy Water”.

The Syrian Observatory monitored a series of abuses committed by Turkish-backed factions, including the theft tens of tons of flour in the silos under the control of “al-Hamzat squad”. According to informed sources, “the faction is trying to smuggle that flour to Turkey in order to sell it in Turkish markets at a low price, at a time when residents of the city of Ras al-Ain suffer from the loss of flour almost completely, resulting in the loss of bread completely, and the factions of the so-called National Army Are taking advantage of this crisis, to bring bread from Tal Abyad and sell it at exorbitant prices to the remaining inhabitants of Ras Al Ain”.

On November 3, the SOHR reported that it had learned that the “al-Mu’tasim Division” participating in Operation “Paece Spring” was committing a number of violations in Ras al-Ain in the countryside of al-Hasakah province. Sources told the SOHR that elements of “al-Mu’tasim Division” took over the homes of citizens. “Phrases were seen written on the doors of the homes reading ‘reserved’, as a guide for the rest of the factions so as not to fall into the problems of sharing the spoils”. On November 2, the Syrian Observatory released an audio recording of a Turkish-backed faction talking about looting the homes of citizens in areas under their control. “We are talking about an army that calls itself (national) but it far away from being national. We are talking about a battle, and therefore the defense minister should have spoken with the Turkish ally to clarify some points, including the prisoners of the battle that should be prisoners of the army. The ally is not allowed to interfere with regard to them. In this way, this army is more like a mercenary who is fighting only for money and is not entitled to talk. There are two types of mercenaries, a mercenary fighting for money and a mercenary fighting for the theft of his people. This is the stage of vileness. A mercenary whose livelihood is the theft of the houses of his people, which he calls spoils. This is a precedent in the history of mercenary in the whole world. This is not the responsibility of the defense minister alone, but also of the factions’ leaders, because instead of clarifying all matters, they only talk about their potential and write reports against each other. Members of the factions were killed because of this reports. The blame is not on Turkey, it is on the defense minister, the Prime minister and the factions’ leaders,” it could be heard in the audio recording.

In recognition of a series of abuses committed by the Turkish-backed factions, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that the Ministry of Defense of the so-called Rescue government is overseeing the formation of a military court in Ras al-Ain to control areas under the control of Operation “Peace Spring”. The Ministry of Defense formed a Follow-up Committee to prosecute the perpetrators of the attacks of October 13, headed by the Deputy Minister of Defense, and promised to deploy the so-called Military Police of the so-called National Army in the areas under its control, in order to stop looting, theft and other attacks. Sources told the Syrian Observatory that the follow-up committee, which was formed, aims to protect civilians, their properties and their dignity from individual practices, to hold those responsible for violations accountable under the law, and to comply fully with the Geneva Conventions of 1949, international humanitarian law and related conventions.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights renews its appeals to the international community and the organizations concerned to intervene immediately to save the remaining residents of Ras al-Ain in their homes and to stop series of violations committed by the factions belonging to the Syrian National Army against the Syrian people in the areas under the its control within Operation “Peace Spring”. The Syrian Observatory also renews its call on the concerned organizations to investigate violations against civilians, in violation of international laws, conventions and international conflict treaties.

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