“Peace Spring” areas in August 2021 | Deteriorating security and attacks leave 12 people dead, with ongoing violations by Turkish-backed factions
Violations against human rights have been escalating in areas under the control of Turkish forces and their proxy factions in al-Hasakah and al-Raqqah, known as “Peace Spring” areas since they were captured in October 2019. These forces’ aim is to accomplish specific economic and political objectives through exploiting the region’s bounties, resources and people.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored and tracked all developments and violations committed in “Peace Spring” areas in August 2021.
In August, 12 people were killed in “Peace Spring” areas, and they were as follows:
- A Turkish soldier and three militiamen of Ahrar al-Sharqiyah were killed in an IED explosion which targeted their vehicle near Aliyah area in Ras al-Ain countryside.
- Three Turkish-backed militiamen were killed in IED and landmine attacks by SDF in al-Hasakah countryside.
- Two Turkish-backed militiamen were killed in clashes with SDF on the frontline of Um al-Sha’fah village in Tel Tamr countryside.
- A Turkish-backed militiaman was shot dead by SDF snipers on a frontline in “Peace Spring” areas.
- A smuggler helping people to cross into Turkey was shot dead by a militiaman of the National Army in al-Shukan village in Sluk countryside in northern al-Raqqah.
- A civilian was killed after being hit with an indiscriminate gunshot during clashes between the military police and civil police nearby Ras al-Ain hospital.
Meanwhile, violations continued in “Peace Spring” areas, as SOHR documented, in August 2021, the arbitrary arrest of six people in Tel Abad city and countryside in al-Raqqah province, Ras al-Ain countryside (Sere Kanye) in al-Hasakah province.
SOHR also documented two armed fights among the Turkish-backed factions in August, and they were concentrated in Ras al-Ain city. These fights left several casualties and caused a state of panic among the region’s residents.
The first fight took place on August 11, as members of the civil police prevented a car of al-Hamza Division from passing through the checkpoint near al-Bareed roundabout in Ras al-Ain city centre. A verbal altercation ignited between the two sides which spurred a militiaman of al-Hamza Division to open fire on a member of the civil police, which evolved to clashes between the two sides. The clashes left over ten people injured.
While the second fight was on August 22 when clashes erupted between the military police and civil police nearby Ras al-Ain hospital, which left six members of the conflicting forces injured and a civilian young man dead as he was hit with an indiscriminate gunfire. According to SOHR sources, the medics in Ras al-Ain hospital started a sit-in in that time over assaults by members of Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah and al-Hamza Division. The sources also reported that the clashes among the Turkish-backed factions followed the assignment of new medical staff and a new administration at the hospital.
On August 9, the residents of al-Rawiyah village in Ras al-Ain countryside in al-Hasakah countryside, in areas under the control of “Peace Spring” operations room, staged a demonstration, protesting the looting of money and properties and gunfire on the civilians’ houses by militiamen of Shuhdaa Badr Brigade which is affiliated to the notorious division of al-Hamza. The demonstrators appealed to the Turks to put an end to the violations by al-Hamzat Division and its affiliated armed groups, including thefts and looting.
While on August 15, large groups of militiamen of the Turkish-backed Jaysh al-Islam arrived in “Peace Spring” areas in Ras al-Ain city (Sere Kaniye) in al-Hasakah countryside. According to SOHR sources, tens of fighters were transported from Aleppo countryside to Ras al-Ain city with the aim to replace the militiamen of Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah faction, which is under US sanctions, in the military posts there. This development coincided with the arrival of military reinforcement and fighters brought in by the Turkish-backed factions to frontlines in Tel Tamr in al-Hasakah countryside following violent clashes and bombardment on these frontlines.
Overall, this bleak picture remains in place with the widespread corruption and tyranny of the Turkish-backed factions without any deterrent preventing them from committing further humanitarian crimes against Syrian civilians in the “Peace Spring” areas.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights therefore renews its call to the international community not to abandon its responsibility and obligations and find a lasting solution to the tragedy of the region’s civilians that are plagued with systematic practices and violations committed by lawless factions, including thefts, murders, looting, arrests and kidnappings.