“Olive Branch” areas in August | Nearly 115 kidnappings and arbitrary arrests…ongoing violations…bizarre Russian airstrikes • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

“Olive Branch” areas in August | Nearly 115 kidnappings and arbitrary arrests…ongoing violations…bizarre Russian airstrikes

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 August’s prominent developments in these areas, which could be summarised in the following main points:

Human casualties

In August 2021, SOHR activists have documented the death of four civilians, they were distributed as follows:

  • Three civilians, including two women, were killed in rocket attacks by from areas under the control of Kurdish and regime forces, which targeted Afrin city in the north-western countryside of Aleppo.

  • A man in his fifties whose body was found dead in olive fields near Darkarah village in Ma’batly district in Afrin countryside, after being kidnapped by unknown individuals. According to the sources, the man was shackles and there were marks of torture on his body.

“Olive Branch” areas experienced no explosion in August 2021. However, two fights occurred in the region among Turkish-backed factions.

The first fight erupted on August 8, as members of the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah beat a commander in the 9th Division known as Abu Abdo Alollou brutally. This action led to violent clashes between Ahrar al-Sham and the 9th Division in Afrin city centre on the highway to al-Villat street. The clashes, in which medium and light weapons were used, caused a state of panic among the residents in al-Villat area.

Moreover, Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah stormed houses of members of the 9th Division on al-Villat street, amid exchange of heavy fire and appeals by the residents to the Turkish-backed factions to interfere and defuse the tension. It is worth noting that these clashes left several civilians, including a child, injured.

While on August 29, violent clashes erupted between Sultan Murad Division and the Military Police near Bulbul district in Afrin countryside. According to SOHR activists, the clashes left at least six members on both sides wounded, but the reasons behind these clashes remained unknown.

As repression is escalating in Afrin canton, Turkish-backed factions have stepped up their daily violations against the region’s people who refused to flee their areas and people displaced to the canton. In August, SOHR documented the arrest and kidnapping of over 113 civilians in Afrin city and surrounding districts of Ma’batli, Sheikh Hadid, Rajou, Bulbul, Sharran and Jendires. It is worth noting that some of these people have been released after paying ransoms, while the others are still in the factions’ custody.

In late August, SOHR activists reported that the Islamic al-Sham Corps which is close to the Turkish Intelligence imposed levies of 100 USD on each Yazidi family living in Burj Abdalu village in Shirawa district in Afrin countryside, north-west of Aleppo. In addition, al-Sham Corps imposed additional levies on the rich people of the village. According to SOHR sources, Burj Abdalu village hosts nearly 50 Yazidi families, mostly women and elders.

On the other hand, “Olive Branch” areas experienced an aerial operation carried out by fighter jets, believed to be Russian, as five airstrikes hit a camp of al-Sham Corps which is close to the Turkish intelligence in Iskan and al-Jolmah villages in Jendires district to the south of Afrin city. It is worth noting that this was the first time to attack a camp of a corps close to Turkey by Russian jets in “Olive Branch” area which is under the control of Turkish factions and their proxies. According to SOHR sources, the Russian airstrikes wounded five militiamen of al-Sham Corps.

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.

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