The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

17 days of Operation “Peace Spring”: insecurity and instability spreads in the region, disastrous humanitarian and health conditions. U.S. forces enter Deir Ezzor despite the decision to withdraw. The SOHR calls for international organizations to intervene

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,

October 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a halt to the military operation in accordance with the Russian-Turkish agreement reached with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the last few days in Sochi. Despite the announcement of a cessation of hostilities in northern Syria in accordance with the agreement to withdraw the SDF from the area between Ras al-Ain (Sri Kanye) and Tel Abyad at a depth of 32 km; the clashes did not stop between the SDF on one hand and the Turkish forces and their affiliates on the other hand, they did not stop with the continuation of the targets and mutual shelling between the two sides, as the clashes continue at varying levels of violence between the two sides on the axes of the countryside of Ras al-Ain and Tal Tamr, while Turkish planes dropped leaflets on villages and towns under the Turkish control to “warn the population against possession of weapons, and to demand that they inform terrorists if they notice them, and that our presence here aims to achieve security and peace”.

In the same context, the regime forces continued their deployment in areas east of the Euphrates, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the arrival of about 180 vehicles carrying soldiers of the regime’s forces, yesterday evening, to the area of ​​Ain al-Arab (Kobani), to deploy in the region. The SOHR also monitored over the past period, the arrival of a convoy of regime forces to the perimeter of the Darbasiyah, in addition to the deployment of regime forces within several sites east of the Euphrates, and in the vicinity of Jalabiya to Tal Tamr; thus the regime forces deployed on the road of Ain Issa – Hasaka. The regime forces brought military reinforcements to Tal Tamr and moved towards Al-Managir area. During the day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the escape of a number of regime forces who fled towards “al-Bareya” area of ​​Tal Tamr, following the slaughter of one of the regime’s members and the capture of another on the hands of the Turkish-backed factions. The “Syrian Observatory” also monitored the entry of regime forces to the village of “Umm al-Kaif” located on the road of Tal Tamr-Ras al-Ain in the northwestern countryside of al-Hassakah, yesterday evening.

With regard to Russian forces, the Syrian Observatory monitored the arrival of a Russian military convoy to the area of ​​Ain al-Arab (Kobani), where it went to the western countryside of the city. The SOHR monitored the launch of new Russian patrols at the border with Turkey in the countryside of Darbasiyah, where the patrol started from Darbasiyah and patrolled its countryside to the Kasra Junction and then returned. Also, the Syrian Observatory spotted a huge military convoy of regime forces and Russian forces consisting of hundreds of vehicles loaded with military and logistical equipment and more than 2000 soldiers, who came from Tabqa towards Ain Issa and headed towards al-Hasakah road, Where barriers and points will be placed on the highway. The convoy is accompanied by Russian forces, the largest of its kind since the agreement between the Syrian regime and the self-management of the north and northeast of Syria, and the Russian-Turkish agreement; this deployment is the largest ever since the end of the regime’s presence in the region five years ago. With the successive developments, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights continues to monitor the situation in the eastern Euphrates region, with the completion of 17 days after the beginning of the Turkish military operation “Peace Spring”.

Turkey’s operation displaces 300 thousand civilians, 125 civilian killed in 17 days, and disastrous humanitarian and health conditions

Since the early hours of Wednesday morning, October 9, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has monitored the displacement of civilians from different parts of the Euphrates region, fleeing the Turkish military operation in the area. According to the statistics of the “Observatory”, the number of displaced exceeded 300 thousand civilians displaced from their towns, cities and villages, where the movement of civilians continues from their areas in Tal Abyad, Ras Al-Ain, Darbasiyah, Ain Al Arab, Ain Issa and other areas east of the Euphrates at the border with Turkey. According to Syrian Observatory statistics Human rights, the number of displaced people exceeded 300 thousand civilians toward the depth of the region, amid the difficult humanitarian situation in the region due to the huge numbers of displaced persons, in addition to the lack of water in al-Hassakah, and the outage of power stations due to shelling and clashes. According to sources of the SOHR, several cities, towns and villages are completely depopulated.

Over that period, Over the course of 17 days of the Turkish military operation known as the ”Peace Spring,” 120 civilians fall victim to the indiscriminate shelling and battles waged by Turkey on northern Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the number of civilians killed since the beginning of the Turkish military operation has risen to 120, including 33 as a result of Turkish airstrikes targeting the city of Ras al-Ain, its surroundings and its eastern countryside, and the village of Rihaniya in al-Malikiyah countryside, including a citizen and two local press crew. Among the civilian casualties, 28 by bombing and targeting on the city of Ras al-Ain, where the bodies were buried earlier because of the siege on the city, and 27 including a child, a party official and two citizens were shot and executed by pro-Turkish factions on the highway south of the city of Tal Abyad and areas north of Ein Issa and the town of Sluk. In addition, 7 civilians including two employees of the self-administration were killed in the ground shelling on the outskirts of Tel Abyad, and 6 including a child, a woman and two elderly men due to rocket fire at Al-Bashiriya, Qadur bey and Al-Zaytouniya neighborhoods. Also, 5 civilians including a child were killed in shelling on the perimeter and countryside of Ras al-Ain area in Hasakah countryside, 4 by Turkish air strikes on Al-Bajiya village in Tal Abyad area, 3 by sniper in Tal Abyad, and a girl in shelling targeting Al-Qahtaniya countryside. Also, A man was shot by a Turkish sniper in al-Qamishli city, a man was shot by Turkish missiles on the outskirts of Qasr Deeb village in al-Malikiyah countryside, in addition to 2 civilians killed in the bombing of pro-Turkish factions at al-Farat village north of Manbij city, and a female child was killed by rocket shelling by the Turkish forces on a village in Ain Issa.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the medical condition in the north and north-east of Syria is witnessing a disastrous situation due to the continuous targeting since the start of the operation “Peace Spring”, where the Kurdish Red Crescent and the Health Authority within the SDF control areas lost 4 of its members so far as a result of the Turkish military operation (3 of the Health Authority were executed on the ground by the pro-Turkish factions in Selouk north of Raqqa, the last belongs to the Kurdish Red Crescent and has been killed in the bombing of the countryside of Ras al-Ain), in addition to 5 others were wounded And targets. The Syrian Observatory documented the attempts by the pro-Turkish factions to impede the work of the medical staff in the rescue of the wounded and the transfer of bodies as a result of the continuing targeting, as was the case in their attempt to transport the wounded and bodies from the city of Ras al-Ain, during the siege by the pro-Turkish factions. The Syrian Observatory also learned that the medical teams received yesterday a distress call by the residents to go to Alia village in Tal Tamr countryside to evacuate the wounded and trapped under the rubble, but the control of the pro-Turkish factions on the village prevents them from going to it, without any reaction from the international organizations, which in turn withdrew from the north and northeast of Syria after the agreement between the Self-Administration and the Syrian regime, as they are not licensed by the Syrian regime, and the United Nations provides support and help only for organizations licensed by the Syrian regime. Accordingly, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights calls on humanitarian organizations, the European Union, the Syrian Red Crescent and the Red Cross (Syria Branch) to act urgently and quickly and provide the necessary support to the areas of north and northeastern Syria, to rescue and evacuate the wounded and injured and to transport bodies from areas under military operations, as well as In other Syrian regions.

Insecurity and instability, high death toll and violations against civilians

Since the start of the military operations, the Syrian Observatory monitored the progress of the Turkish forces and their affiliated factions with intensive air and ground cover in a total area of ​​3412 km2 (6.4% of the total area under the control of the SDF), which is equivalent to one quarter of the area of ​​Lebanon, namely: Tal Abyad city, villages of Selouk, Mazra’at Al-Hammadi, Abu Qabr, Mazra’at al-Massihi, Hamida, Al-Mahdah, Dadat, Al-Yabsah, Al-Mushrifah, Tel-Fender, Bir-Asheq, Al-Tuwaraziyah, Zakah, Huwairan, Al-Wasta, Al-Ghajer, Shokan, Al-Khaldia, Al-Arida, Nabhan, Um Al-Garn, Ghazil, Al-Hawi, Tabbin, Al-Suwayn, Jamous Filo, Al-Zaidi, Al-Droubiyah, Ain Al-Arous, Tel Antar, Al-Badi, Jassem Al-Ali in Tal Abyad. Turkey also now controls Mabrouka town, and the villages of Kantari, Wadha, Twigel, Alouk, Keshtu, Aksas, Tal Khanzeer, Al Azizia, Baloja, Abu Al-Saoun, Hweish Al-Nasser, Al-Naim, Sahaleya, Libya, Tal Al-Banat, Kajo, Al-Mada’in and Nahih in Ras Al-Ain. In addition, there are 34 villages and areas within the area between Tal Tamr and Ras al-Ain, and the area between Tal Abyad countryside and Ain Issa are under the control of the Turkish-backed factions right now.

Despite the continued deployment of regime forces, clashes continue along several axes east of the Euphrates, especially within the area between the city of Ras al-Ain (Sri Kanyeh) and the town of Tal Tamr, on the axes of Safah, Managir and Leylan Salhiya, in a continuous attack by pro-Turkish factions on the positions of the Syrian Democratic forces. There are also sporadic clashes between the two sides in Tal Abyad countryside; regime forces arrived with Russian forces to the village of Al-Garn in Tal Abyad countryside, while violent clashes took place yesterday evening between the Manbij Military Council on one side and the pro-Turkish factions on the other side, as there was an attempt by the pro-Turkish factions to infiltrate to the SDF positions, amid information about casualties among the attackers.

Contrary to the U.S. decision to withdraw completely from northern Syria, the SOHR monitored the entry of a military convoy of U.S. forces to Syrian territory after midnight, where the convoy entered through the Simalka crossing-border from northern Iraq and headed towards the American points in Deir Ezzor province. The convoy consists of dozens of vehicles carrying military and logistical equipment.

Over the course of 17 days of clashes, shelling and mutual targeting, the death toll among the Syria Democratic Forces, military councils and internal security forces since the start of the Turkish military operation on Wednesday afternoon have risen to 272. The SOHR also documented the death of 6 members of the regime forces as a result of a missile targeting by the Turkish-backed factions. Meanwhile, the number of deaths among Syrian factions loyal to Ankara and the pro-Turkey cells killed in the attacks and clashes with the SDF during the same period reached 205, including 21 of the cells loyal to Ankara killed in clashes with the SDF, in addition to 10 Turkish soldiers were killed during the battels, amid information about more dead Turks on the Turkish-Syrian border, and the number of those killed is likely to rise due to the high number of wounded, some of them in serious cases.

Meanwhile, the region is witnessing a state of insecurity and instability, where a car bomb exploded in the town of “Hamam al-Turkman” in Tal Abyad countryside in front of a former headquarters of the “Asayish” taken by the pro-Turkish factions after its takeover of the town a few days ago, which resulted in injuries amid information about someone who died in the bombing.

The area is still witnessing a state of caution and anticipation, where a number of residents of “Ras al-Ain” called on the SOHR, to highlight the insecurity and suffering they face on the hands of the Turkish-backed factions, as they tried to return to their homes and villages; however the pro-Turkish factions stopped them at the Tel Halaf checkpoint and prevented them from crossing and asked them whether they were Kurds or Arabs, amid reports of forced displacement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to areas controlled by Operation Peace Spring. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights calls on all actors to put pressure on Turkey to ensure that there is no demographic change in the area controlled by the “Peace Spring” factions, as well as to ensure that the property of residents in areas under the control of pro-Turkish factions is not stolen and looted in light of the frequent reports of Looting taking place in the area.

According to reliable sources, the factions loyal to Turkey continue its violation within its areas of control, as groups have stolen homes and ransacked their contents after the displacement of its people as a result of the “Peace Spring”, in addition to burning homes and the theft of livestock, which brings back to memory the practices of the factions during the control of Afrin, the rampaging of the property of the people and the ongoing violations to date. In turn, the SOHR continues to monitor the violations of the factions, where reliable sources confirmed that Turkish-backed factions abducted an elderly citizen, her husband and a child in the village of “Gaida” in Tal Abyad, and the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 10 million Syrian pounds in order to set them free. It is noteworthy to mention that 5 members of the elderly family were killed in the area before by the same factions. Also, sources told the SOHR that members of the “Hamza Division” loyal to Turkey, kidnapped a young man named Mohammed Aboud in “Tal Half”, after he refused to hand over his motorcycle and mobile phone to the checkpoint elements, and is currently being held in a house Adjacent to the “Hassan Gas Station”, where this house is the headquarters the “Hamza Devision”. “There is another violation of the Hamza Devision in Ras al-Ain, where members of the pro-Turkish faction stole a car owned by Hamad al-Khalaf, in addition to stealing more than one mobile phone. al-Khalaf is a civilian who has no political or military activity. He is also an Arab, not a Kurd. They also set fire on his house,” the sources said.

At the same time, the SOHR obtained the testimony of civil sources familiar with the situation in “Ras al-Ain” after the withdrawal of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the control of factions loyal to Turkey. According to the sources, “looting reached in everything, where all the items are stolen and sold in a market in (Tal Halaf). Even food and mobile phones are being robbed. Some traders have confirmed that honorable people do not buy stolen items. Also, there is another market in a village after (Tel Halaf) called (al-Azizia), where there is something like a market to sell stolen food or any stolen items that have high price to be sold for”.