Kurdish leader arrested in Afrin released, in good health
The leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Syria (KDP-S) in Afrin has been released a month after he was arrested by Turkish-backed Syrian forces, a member of his party confirmed.
Hussein Ibish was released on Tuesday, Ibrahim Biro, the former head of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS), an umbrella political group in northern Syria, told Rudaw English. Ibish is the head of ENKS in Afrin.
Biro added that he briefly spoke with Ibish on Tuesday night. Ibish was at his home in Afrin and in good health, he said.
Ibish was arrested by Turkish-backed forces on March 31, 2019 during a wave of arrests of over 2,600 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which confirmed his release. More than 1,087 are still detained, the UK-based conflict monitor reported on Wednesday.
Most of those who were released were freed after paying a “ransom,” said the Observatory.
It is not immediately clear if a ransom was paid to secure the release of Ibish.
ENKS condemned Turkey’s 2018 military incursion into Afrin and has called for Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies to be expulsed from the enclave. Turkey launched its offensive in the region that sits in the northwestern corner of Syria in order to rout the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), an armed group Ankara claims has ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ankara said the cross-border military offensive was necessary to remove the “terror” threat from its borders.
Some 137,000 people were displaced during the conflict, according to United Nations figures.
Turkey has come under fire for abuses committed by Syrian militias under its watch.
“Makeshift justice mechanisms of armed groups and terrorist organizations also unlawfully detained or kidnapped civilians in Idlib and Afrin for expressing political dissent or for ransom,” head of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told the UN Human Rights Council on March 12.
His Commission documented “pervasive” lawlessness in Afrin since the Kurdish forces were ousted in March 2018.
Kurdish leaders in northern Syria, known locally as Rojava, have repeatedly called for Turkey to withdraw from Afrin. An armed group calling itself the Afrin Liberation Forces claimed on Wednesday to have killed nine Turkish soldiers and injured 14 in three separate operations this week.
Turkey’s Defence Ministry confirmed the death of one Turkish soldier in northwestern Syria on Tuesday. Another three soldiers were injured in an attack blamed on the YPG in territory under Turkish control between Afrin and the Euphrates River.