The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

After killing about 400 civilians in Afrin, arresting about 2400 others, imposing royalties, seizing property, and looting other, Afrin still waits for the silent international community to move

Afrin sleeps on a violation and wakes up on the sound of the weapon, and often; its lights are  only of military vehicles and the shouting of those fighting over looting, and every day the violation increases more, especially as controlling Afrin city and the entire area has entered its 9th consecutive month, since controlling it by the Turkish Forces and the rebel and Islamic factions on the 19th of March 2018, after a military operation began under the name of “Olive Branch” on the 20th of January 2018, and this operation was supported by the Turkish Grey Wolves Forces, and Turkish warplanes and helicopters, which caused damage to the property of citizens and massacres that killed about 380 civilians, including 55 children and 36 women, of the Kurdish, Arab, and Armenian civilians, tens of them were killed in mine explosions and under torture by factions of “Olive Branch” Operation, the majority of whom died in shelling by the Turkish air, artillery, and rocket shelling, and in executions of several citizens in Afrin area, and under torture since the 20th of January 2018, in addition to the injury of hundreds and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others, while violations and inhumane practices remained as the share of the remaining inhabitants of Afrin area, who refused to leave the area, their homes, and farms to the Turkish Forces and the factions which looted, robbed, and seized, property of civilians, private and public property in the entire area of Afrin.

Things did not stop there, where factions of “Olive Branch” operation and in the absence of a party to stop their violations against the Kurdish citizens in Afrin area, found a new way for violating the population and accusing them, the first of these accusations was being connected to or belonging to the Kurdish Forces, which made it easier for these factions to expand their activity, arrest more civilians, and kill even without caring by any international, regional, even local parties for the violations in the area, the latest of which was what the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored, where an Islamic group arrested a man and his daughter from on the villages in Afrin countryside; on charges of belonging to the Kurdish Forces, the sources said that the arrest of the man and his daughter took place because they refused to obey the demands of the Division, which demanded money as royalty for “protecting the area”, also a child died affected by gunshot wounds civil sources said that a fighter of an Islamic faction operating in Afrin area shot him in Afrin city while he was under the influence of drugs, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the arrest of 2380 citizens, including more than 840 who still under arrest, while the rest of them were released after paying a ransom imposed by members of “Olive Branch” Operation, sometimes the ransom reach more than 10 million SYP.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored more than 140 operations targeted “Olive Branch” in Afrin area, since the Kurdish forces lost Afrin area at the end of the second third of March 2018, where it rose to 677, the number of members of the Turkish forces and the rebel and Islamic factions including 83 Turkish soldiers, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of at least 1582 fighters of YPG and Self-Defense Forces, who have been killed since the start of Operation “Olive Branch”, also at least 91 of the popular members of the regime forces have been killed in the Turkish bombardment since they entered on the 20th of February 2018, while the Turkish forces have carried out about 140 assassinations and targeting against the forces controlling Afrin, while leading sources of the YPG denied that their forces or cells had relation or responsibility for many of the assassinations and acts of torture; some of which appeared on videos and attributed to the Kurdish Forces, and the sources accused other cells belong to other parties of carrying out these assassinations and attributing them to the Kurdish Forces for their own agenda, the main aim of which is to escalating their violations against the civilians, where the resentment has been increasing among the civilians day after day, with the unfair and unjust procedures, and the silence of the Turkish Forces -who are leading the “Olive Branch” operation- and not responding to their complaints.

Also, the constraining process continues after the control of Afrin area, this constrain is carried out by “Olive Branch” Operation Forces in accordance with the desire of the Turkish Forces, trying to remove themselves from any violation that would provoke regional and international public opinion against them, and in the details obtained by the Syrian Observatory: al-Sham Corps close to the Turkish authorities, formed mock courts that request identity papers relating to property ownership in Afrin area in the northwestern sector of Aleppo province, and the sources confirmed that the process of ordering the papers is accompanied by information provided by intersected sources; about the start of preparations by the Corps’ court to return properties inhabited by fighters to their owners, and the sources confirmed that the houses are being seized until proofing the ownership of the house by a paper from the Land Registry in Aleppo that proves the ownership of the house to the plaintiff, even if there were charges of affiliation to the Kurdish forces or Kurdish political parties, where the ownership of the home is returned its owners, but those who cannot prove that, their property are seized and sold at an auction, also the individual arms and personal belongings areas sold in the same way at special auctions, which has aroused widespread dissatisfaction among residents of Afrin who the regime did not grant them access to Aleppo city as displaced people, amid fears that many displaced and remaining families cannot prove their ownership, where the people considered this as a new chapter in the process of restricting to displace the remaining civilians.

While factions of the “Olive Branch” Operation supported by Turkey continue their violations in Afrin city and its countryside against its remaining people, to steal their lands, arrest, and restrict them. And in a new chapter in the series of violations: “al-Sultan Shah” Brigade -which is part of the “Olive Branch” factions- legalized its thefts of the livelihood of Afrin people through series of resolutions issued and circulated regarding the harvesting of olives in Shih Township in the countryside of Afrin, and these decisions stipulate the imposition of royalties in different proportions on the olive harvest, where residents owners of the agricultural lands in the area were forced to pay 10% of their produce, but in the case of absence of the agricultural landowners in the area their agents act on behalf of them; and higher percentages were determined as follows:

15% of the crop is paid if the agents are first class relatives to the landowners (father, mother, brother, sister).

If the agents are from the area but not related to the landowners, the royalty will be 25% of the total crop production.

35% of the total crop production is paid if the agents are from “supporters” of YPG according to the circulation of the Sultan Shah faction.

Intersected sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that a military commander in Rahman Corps (who was displaced from eastern Ghouta) had an agreement with the local council in Afrin city, based on taking an area of a mountainous land located in the area between Basutah and Afrin city by the military commander, based on considering it as a “no-man’s-land” and it is not owned by anyone, and then granting 400 meters to the displaced people of the Eastern Ghouta in exchange of $100. Reliable sources confirmed that the agreement had been reached between both parties, but no displaced person has been handover anything yet.

the royalties imposed on the civilian and the people who move in Afrin area on the main and sub-roads, where varying sums of money are paid to checkpoints of “Olive Branch” Forces, who stop the small, large, public and private vehicles, and sometimes it goes beyond royalty and turn to looting, not to mention the arbitrary control of “Olive Branch” operation factions of the economic resources in Afrin- came against the backdrop of the seizure of most of the olive plantations in Afrin by the factions of operation “Olive branch”, and leasing it dealers and workers to work in them and receive money in advance as a price for the lease of these seized plantations, which are more than 75% of the area of olive farms in Afrin, after the factions shared control of olive farms.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored a complete seizure of Afrin city by the Turkish forces and “Olive Branch” operation factions, where these factions split their areas of control and write phrases on everything being seized to prove their ownership of it, and to prevent the rest of the factions from seizing the same real estate or machine, also they burned olive plantations and property, while violations exceeded the seizure and dividing of property to carrying out daily raids of houses under the pretext of searching for weapons and sleeper cells and other pretexts, they also looted the property of houses of jewelry, money, electronic appliances, even mobile phones and furniture, while the theft moved from private property to public property, where groups of factions working in Afrin area stole electric copper cables in front of the people as well as hospitals and service institutions, while these robberies created internal clashes between rebel and Islamic factions operating in “Olive Branch” operation, which killed and injured tens of members in frequent rounds of bloody fighting, while the Turkish authorities did not engage in any kind of deterrence or pressure, but attempted to resolve disputes that may get completely out of control.

we call on the international community to work diligently to bring the inhabitants of Afrin area back to their homeland, and guarantee their lives and safety, where there is no place for them to displace to and no organization providing assistance, we also call on humanitarian and relief agencies to provide assistance that will benefit the displaced people of Afrin, and providing medical treatment to hundreds of thousands of displaced people in a narrow geographical area, we also call on the international community to press Turkey to open the checkpoints for people wishing to return to Afrin, and to control the factions that have not left anything without being looted, the factions which exercise daily violations against inhabitants of Afrin area.