“Olive Branch” areas in May | Over 40 arbitrary arrests and kidnappings…ongoing violations…demographic change in progress
Since Turkish forces and their proxy factions captured several areas in Aleppo after a military operation known as “Olive Branch”, humanitarian crises have been emerging and worsening gradually, with violations, attacks and explosions occur almost daily. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored and tracked May’s prominent developments in these areas, which could be summarised in the following main points:
Human casualties: figures and details
In May, SOHR activists have documented the death of 14 people, including six civilians and eight factions. The fatalities breakdown were as follows:
• A little girl was killed by rocket fire in Afrin countryside.
• Two members of factions were killed in attack at the National Army checkpoint near Sharran district.
• Two unknown whose bodies with signs of torture and shooting were found nearby al-Farirah village in Jendires .
• Two members of “Soliman Sha” faction was murdered by a grenade thrown by another member inside the faction headquarters in Sharran district
• A civilian was murdered by a sharp weapon in al-Onoq area after he was kidnapped in Afrin countryside
• Two members of “Liwaa Samarqand” faction was killed in an explosion by unknown assailants near the military headquarters in Rajo neighborhood
• A young man was murdered in Anab village in Afrin countryside.
• A civilian was murdered by explosion of a booby-trapped car at Rajo road in Afrin city.
• A member of “al-Hamzawat Division” was murdered in armed fight in Asteer village in Afrin countryside.
• A young man was murdered after sustaining torture in the prison of the Turkish-backed factions after he was arrested several years ago in Afrin.
In May, “Olive Branch” area has witnessed three explosions and one attack
On May 3, Syrian Observatory activists reported an armed attack by unknown assailants, on a checkpoint of a faction operating under the banner of the Turkish-backed “National Army” in Sharran district in Afrin countryside in north-western Aleppo. Clashes erupted between the attackers and the members stationed at the checkpoint, as the attackers managed to escape after they had killed two members of the Turkish-backed faction.
Meanwhile, the explosions were as follows:
On May 5, a man and five children were injured, after an IED planted in a car exploded, in al-Mahmoudiya neighbourhood in Afrin city, in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
On May 17, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activists documented the death of two members of pro-Turkey “Samarqand Brigade”, as a result of an unknown explosion near a military headquarters of the Brigade in Rajo district in Afrin countryside.
On May 30, Local sources reported that a young man died under torture in a prison of Turkish-backed factions in Aleppo countryside. Syrian Observatory sources in the northern countryside of Aleppo reported that the man who was from Darkeer village of Ma’batli district in Afrin countryside, was arrested years ago with his wife whose fate remained unknown. The man was taken to the security centers belonging to pro-Turkey factions, where he was jailed in al-Zeraa prison in al-Bab area of east Aleppo.
The young man was exposed to brutal torture till the day he died, as prisoners found him dead after return from torture room. The young man also lost his mental ability as he endured psychological torture for three consecutive years. It is worth noting that the young man was arrested for “working as a Kurdish teacher in ‘Vian Amara’ school known previously as Faisal Qadour”.
Meanwhile, the pro-Turkish government factions still commit daily violations against the population in the region who rejected deportation and chose to stay in their house. The violations also affected the displaced people in the region also. SOHR activists also documented, in May, the arrests and kidnapping of 39 persons by the Turkish-backed factions in Afrin city, and around al-Sheikh Hadid, Ma’batly, Bulbul and Rajo, eleven of them have been released while the others remained either arrested or kidnapped
Observatory sources in Afrin countryside reported that members of the Turkish-backed “Samarqand Brigade” logged, since the beginning of May, thousands of olive trees planted in the inhabitants’ fields in the village of Kafr Safrah. The accident took place in presence of these farms’ owners in the village. According to SOHR activists, nearly 3,900 fruit-bearing trees were logged by members of Samarqand Brigade and sold to the merchants of the firewood.
Meanwhile, on May 20, SOHR activists in Afrin canton in the north-western countryside of Aleppo reported that the Turkish-backed brigade of “Samarqand” seized large spaces of orchards containing thousands of olive trees in Kafr Safrah village in Jendires district in Afrin countryside. It is worth noting that these orchards belong to nearly 50 civilians from the village, some of who have been displaced from the village during “Olive Branch” operation, while the others preferred to stay in the areas, and the orchards of these people have been seized und the pretext of “dealing with the Autonomous Administration”.
On May 14, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activists in the countryside of Afrin in north-western Aleppo reported that a military group of “Liwaa al-Shamal al-Dimocrati” (Democratic North Brigade) has seized, a week ago, three houses and a shop in the village of Afrazayah in Maabatly district. It is worth noting that the houses and shop belonged to civilians from the village, who were displaced due to the “Olive Branch” operation.
According to SOHR sources, the three houses and the shop were inhabited by relative of real owners who were forced to flee after being kicked off from the village by the military faction which is affiliated to the Turkish-backed National Army.
On May 24, reliable sources told SOHR that militiamen of “Suleiman Shah Division”, “al-Amshat”, looted a farmland in Qarmitlaq village of Sheikh Hadeed district in Afrin countryside. This farmland belongs to a civilian from the village and now living in Turkey. It is worth noting that “Suleiman Shah Division” which dominates Sheikh Hadeed district in Afrin had looted large spaces of olive orchards and agriculture land in the district, belonging to people from Afrin canton who have been displaced during “Olive Branch” operation. The Turkish-backed faction gave these looted farmlands to cronies close to the faction’s commanders, who cultivated the land and harvested the crops in return for giving a share of the profit to the faction. Such violations are committed under coordination between the economic bureau of “Suleiman Shah Division” and investors.
Continuous demographic change operation
On May 14, SOHR sources reported that charitable organizations are working on building residential units for displaced persons in north-western Syria. Despite the positive side of these construction operations, they are still considered a part of “demographic change” in the region through these charitable associations which are clearly supported by the Turks.
In this context, the Syrian Observatory activists reported that a charitable association called “Basma” is working on building a residential village in Shadir village in Sherawa countryside (Jabal Laylon) in Afrin countryside.
The association aims to build 12 residential units, consisting of 144 apartments, in the first phase, for the resettlement of families affiliated to pro-Turkey factions, especially “Turkmen”.
The new village is built with the support of the Kuwaiti-backed association of “White Hands”, and it includes the building of three-story-style apartments with each floor containing four apartments, in addition to building a mosque and a health center. the project also provides a drinking water , electricity, road and sewage networks.
It is worth noting that Afrin region is witnessing a significant presence of associations and organizations that build residential units for the displaced persons, while camps in Idlib are still covering large spaces of the province.
According to SOHR statistics, more than 270,000 people of the families belonging to factions loyal to Ankara, and the displaced persons from the countryside of Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Hama, Homs, Idlib, and western Aleppo, based on Turkish-Russian brokered deals, settled in houses and properties seized from their real owners in Afrin, while others have been settled in camps and makeshift camps near the city of Afrin, Muhammadiyah village in Jindires, Afraz village in Maabataly, cities of Rajo and Bulbul, villages of Kafr Janah Deir Sawwan.
Recently, the Turkish forces and factions started the establishment of seven model villages for settling those displaced people coming from other provinces in light of the demographic change plans. The new villages are built by Turkish organizations, like the Disaster And Emergency Management (AFAD) and other Gulf countries. These villages are located in southern Shadirrah village, Sheikh Mohammed Mountain northern Kafr Safrah- Jindires, Ligah area between the two villages of Karmatlaq and Jiqla Tahtani, Shie/Shiekh al-Hadid near the hospital, and another mountainous site near the village of Hag Hasna- Jindires, and another site near the village of “Khalta”-Shirro.)
It seems that the series of violations in “Olive Branch” areas will be unstoppable as long as Turkish forces and their proxies keep breaching all international laws and charters, and with no body being able to put an end to these “grave” violations, despite SOHR repeated warnings about the dreadful humanitarian situation in the region.