المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

The “free” handover of regime’s prisoners and violations of the Turkey-loyal factions open doors of anger and resentment in the ranks of the “National Army,” leaked recordings of members of “Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah”: the blame is on the minister of defense and faction leaders, not Turkey, and mercenaries now steal their parents and consider it as spoils of war

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

Although 2 days have passed since Turkish Forces handed over the 18 prisoners of the regime to the Russian military delegation that went to Darbasiyah crossing to receive them; internal tensions and divisions in the ranks of the Turkey-loyal factions caused by the handover of these 18 prisoners continue, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights obtained confirmed information about the defection of “Homs al-Adiyyeh Brigade” which is part of the faction of the “Sultan al-Murad Division” of the “Syrian National Army” and that it is joining “Jaysh al-Izza in Hama”, due to “differences within the ranks of the National Army as a result of handing over the 18 captured member to the forces regime free of charge, considering what happened to be as “a betrayal of the religion.” And in the same context, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights obtained audio recordings that reveal the rage and resentment among ranks of the Turkey-loyal factions, specifically, “Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah” faction, which has faced sharp criticism during the past period for being accused of war crimes and involvement in killing the female party politician Hefrin Khalaf.

In one of the audio recordings obtained by the Syrian Observatory, one of the members of “Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah” talks about the biggest mistake in the issue of handing over prisoners of the regime forces to the Russian military delegation free of charge, is not on Turkey, but on the “Syrian National Army” and its defense minister, Salim Idris, and the head of the Rescue Government, in the audio recording, the speaker says: “I do not see what happened by the Turkish part to be as a treason, because treason is called on those who betray an agreement between two parties, but what is happening is that the Turkish army is having a battle it prepared for and is preparing for, and certainly what it will do in the future, therefore, we have to ask ourselves before we charge treason to anyone: did the National Army or its defense minister talk to the Turkish brothers before the start of the battle about the goal of the battle, its timing, when it will start, and all those things? We only knew one goal was to make that area safe, we all expected that the Kurds and the Kurdistan worker’s party will  bring the regime to enter the border as soon as the battle began, but did the National Army talk to the Turkish brothers about the situation if the regime forces entered? We have entered a battle in which martyrs fall, these martyrs are not just numbers to sacrifice at any time, why didn’t the defense minister or faction leaders talk about it, no one talked to the Turks about it, and since no one speak, how can we accuse the Turks of treason because they handed over the prisoners if we did not talk to them? Basically, the National Army didn’t know when the battle would take place, so How can we say something when the Turkish side decides to hand over the prisoners or stop the battle or anything? This battle has killed more than 120 on our part, yet we cannot blame anyone.”

In the audio recording obtained by the Syrian Observatory, the speaker added: “the blame is on the minister of defense and faction leaders who cared only for one thing, making strong speeches on their fighters as if they were one of the companions of the prophet, all of them were looking for likes on social media, these members are young with no purpose, and instead of making speeches they should have asked the leaders, defense minister, and the partner in the battle how to act if the Russians, the Americans, or the regime intervened, points had to be placed before the battle began, everyone made the same mistake, and as the battle began, everyone was looking for prisoners to take pictures with them and post them everywhere, blame those who have set themselves up as guardians of the people. the Coalition has done nothing but make one statement and it had enough with just that, the (Rescue) government has the same position, the Turkish president goes out every day to talk to his people about the battle, but here they don’t go on to do that because there is pressure and there is a fear of the battle and there is a desire to disavow, everyone is afraid to be classified, we didn’t see the prime minister throughout the battle because he feared he would be classified, also the government’s media office prevented publishing any image, the faction leaders do nothing but writing reports against the other faction, go to Turkey, and saying that their faction deserve more than the other with this and that…, they take responsibility, and they will ask about those charges before ALLAH.”

In a second audio recording obtained by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another member of the same faction talks not only about the issue of free handing over of prisoners, but also about the accusations against the Turkey-loyal factions that they have been robbing and looting houses of citizens in the areas under their control, saying: “We are talking about an army that calls itself (patriotic) but it is far from patriotism, and before that it used to be called the Free Army and it is far from being (free), we are talking about a battle, so the Minister of Defense should have spoken with the Turkish ally to clarify some points, among them the prisoners of battle, who must be prisoners of the Free Army and the ally is not allowed to interfere with them, but this way it is like a mercenary who only fights and does not have the right to talk, there are two types of mercenaries, a mercenary fights for money and a mercenary who fights for in exchange of robbing his family, this is the stage of vileness, a mercenary whose job is to steal homes of his family and which its calls spoils. No worse than this shall come in the history of mercenary in the whole world. This is not only on the Minister of Defense, but also on the faction leaders, because instead of being clear they only kept talking about their potential and wrote reports against each other, and there are people who were martyred of the factions against which they have written reports, the issue is with the faction leaders, the minister of defense, and the prime minister.”

The Syrian Observatory also obtained a third recording, in which a person linked to the same faction attacked the attempts to justify what happened as a “intersection of interests” with Turkey, saying: “On the issue of the intersection of interests, this term is new and we created it in order to justify ourselves and alleviate the pain within us; that we are offering a part of our rights and the rights of our homeland and country to others in the name of intersection of interests, this term can only be achieved between countries which achieve their interests together commercially, politically, and economically, but when a party come to achieve its interests and take away my rights and my land -then- I call this an intersection of interests? This is a betrayal of the homeland.”

And as a result of the criticism and accusations that followed “Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah faction”, it issued a statement on the 21st of October 2019 asserting that it considers itself to be as an essential component of the “Syrian National Army” and its commitment to goals of the Syrian revolution of freedom and dignity,” in a statement obtained by the Syrian Observatory, the faction said: “We categorically deny any connection with Hayyaat al-Sham or the so-called Jabhat al-Nusra, or any radical Islamic organizations, which is also confirmed by the Minister of Defense of the interim government, we also affirm our full commitment to the general instructions issued by the Syrian National Army and the directives of the Minister of Defense regarding following rules of international law and human rights fully in avoiding civilian casualties, and considering human rights and international treaties including the Third Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of war prisoners.”

In an attempt to disavow and deny accusations of involvement in killing the female party politician, Hefrin Khalaf, “Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah” said in its statement: “We categorically deny our responsibility for the killing the Leader in the PKK party which is classified as a terrorist organization, as was promoted by some channels supporting the separatist parties, and we confirm that the three military buses which belong to SDF and they are military vehicles; deliberately refused to comply with the instructions to stop despite receiving initial warnings on the road between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, which led to a clash between our forces and their forces and caused several deaths in the ranks of SDF and the capture of several members, they are dealt with in accordance with international law and rules of treatment of prisoners, we also stress that in order to allow no leniency in dealing with any breach of those principles, an investigation has been opened into an individual abuse operation that we have recorded, and 2 members have been transferred to the investigation and are being handed over to the Ministry of Defense.”

And after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed the identity of the faction that appeared in a video during the capture of the fighter of the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units, Jijek Kobani, where the Syrian Observatory revealed that al-Majd Corps led by the Major Yasser Abdulrahim, who was a leader in al-Sham Corps, is responsible for the capture of the Kurdish female fighter, and his members appeared in the video threatening the Kurdish female fighter with “slaughter,” al-Majd Corps issued a statement on the 26th of October, saying: “Leadership of al-Majd Corps, commanded by the 3rd Corps, confirms that the Kurdish separatist female fighter Jijek Kobani, tried to blow itself up at a gathering of civilians and military personnel on the outskirts of Tal Abyad city in Salibi area, a group of members of the National Army was able to arrest them after an armed confrontation that killed 3 members of the National Army, and therefore: we declare our full commitment to safeguarding the rights of prisoners of war and treating them well, in accordance with teachings of our religion, international humanitarian law, and the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners, we confirm that the female fighter was not physically, morally, or psychologically harmed, and that we will conduct the necessary investigations with the Kurdish separatist female fighter and transfer her in accordance with the law to a fair trial.”

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