“Peace Spring” areas in 2021 | Nearly 180 kidnappings and arbitrary arrests, 52 infighting and explosions, more than 300 casualties
Human rights violations have been worsening 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. The 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 2021.
Violence and human losses
SOHR has documented death of 98 persons with different methods in areas under control of Turkish forces and operation room of Peace Spring factions in 2021.
The death toll is distributed as follows:
- 16 persons, including eight children and four women, killed in explosions
- Five persons killed in factional infighting and by factions’ members
- Three persons killed by Turkish Border Guard Forces (Jandamra)
- Three men killed in unknown circumstances
- Three men killed by unknown gunmen
59 members of Ankara-backed factions including leaders
- 21 members killed in factional infighting.
- 17 members killed in explosions.
- 14 members killed by SDF.
- Four members killed in airstrikes by International Coalition drones.
- Three members killed by unknown gunmen.
Six Turkish soldiers:
- Five killed in explosions.
- One killed by mistake while playing with his weapon.
Three with unknown identities killed in explosion of booby-trapped vehicles while driving them in different dates.
130 casualties in 22 explosions mostly in Ras Al-Ain city
In 2021, 22 explosions took place via detonating of IEDs, landmines and booby-trapped vehicles, killing 47 persons and wounding 81 others in “Peace Spring” areas.
The monthly distribution of the explosions and casualties, all documented by SOHR, is as follows:
- January: Three explosions, including two in Ras AL-Ain city and one in Tal Abyad,killed nine persons and wounded other 18.
- February: Four explosions, including three in Ras Al-Ain city and one in Tal Tamer killed, eight persons and wounded other 13.
- March: Five explosions in Ras Al-Ain city and its countryside killed 15 persons and wounded other 21.
- April: Three explosions, including two in Tal Tamr and one in Ras Al-Ain countryside, killed five persons and wounded other eight.
- May: Two explosions in Silouk neighbourhood in Al-Raqqa countryside killed two persons and wounded other five.
- August: Three explosions in Ras Al-Ain killed seven persons and wounded 12 others.
- September: Two explosions in Ras Al-Ain killed one person and wounded four others.
- October, November and December have not seen any explosions.
30 cases of factional infighting and clashes killed and wounded 150 persons and caused widespread panic and fear
In 2021, SOHR activists have documented thirty cases of factional infighting and clashes among Turkey-backed factions over power and distribution of properties and looted objects or for personal reasons. The infightings killed 21 persons and wounded other 127.
The monthly distribution of infighting cases, all documented by SOHR, is as follows:
- January: Two in Ras AL-Ain city wounded five persons.
- February: Five including four in Ras Al-Ain and its countryside and one case in Tal Abyad city, killed two persons and wounding 16 others.
- March: Two in Ras AL-Ain city wounded nine persons.
- April: Four in Ras Al-Ain city killed four security men and wounded 19 others.
- May: One in Ras Al-Ain wounded one adult and one child.
- June: Three in Ras Al-Ain killed five security men and wounded 11 others.
- July: Two in Ras Al-Ain killed three security men and wounded 14 others.
- August: Two in Ras AL-Ain killed one person and wounded 12 others.
- September: Four in Ras Al-Ain and its countryside killed five security men and wounded 17 others.
- October: One in Ras AL-Ain city with no reported casualties.
- November: Four, of which two in Ras Al-Ain and two in Tal Abyad, killed two persons and wounded 22 others.
More than 255 human rights violations in presence of Turkish forces
In 2021, residents in “Peace Spring” areas in Al-Hasaka and Al-Raqqa countryside suffered and endured the tyranny of the Turkish government-backed factions amid the silence of the Turkish forces. Daily violations have been monitored and documented by SOHR and are as follows:
- 178 kidnappings and arbitrary arrests of Syrian people in Al-Hasakah and Al-Raqqah countryside, including 24 women on pretexts and accusations of mainly working and spying for the SDF. Many of the kidnaped and arrested were released after their families paid levies and ransom money to the factions controlling the “Peace Spring” areas, headed by Al-Hamzah faction, while 53 others are still under arrest to date.
- 56 robberies and looting houses of civilians by Ankara-backed factions.
Miscellaneous violations in “Peace Spring” areas, most prominent of which documented by SOHR are:
- Acts of cultural vandalism and sabotaging Syrian civilisation heritage continue in “Peace Spring” areas. Those acts are akin to those taking place in Aleppo and other Syrian provinces. SOHR documented that Turkish forces and its factions dug Sahlan antiquities hill and other archaeological sites in two villages of Mashrifah and Al-Hasson in east Tal Abyad rural area in Al-Raqqah countryside, and Tal Aswad village and other sites in Al-Goganyah village in south countryside of Tal Abyad, Tal Akhdar in west countryside in the same region. According to SOHR sources, the Turkish forces found treasures and artifacts in Sahlan antiquities hill and moved them to unknown locations.
- On April 25, SOHR sources reported the opening of the headquarters of a Caucasian charity “Qafqasi” in the city of Ras Al-Ain “Sere Kaniye”. According to SOHR sources, the headquarters of the charity “Qafqasi” were opened in houses belonging to displaced people from the city of Ras Al-Ain, who were forced to flee due to the military operation “Peace Spring”, after the Turkish forces and their factions captured it. This development comes in light of the policy of Turkish forces and their proxy factions of demographic change in areas under their control within “Peace Spring” and “Olive Branch” areas.
- Popular protests escalated over the miserable conditions in the areas of “Spring Peace” especially services. On May 5, employees in the hospital of Ras Al-Ain (Sere Kaniye) started a general strike, protesting salary delayby Turkish officials in charge of the hospital. On May 17, tens of residents demonstrated in Ras Al-Ain city (Sere Kaniye) in Al-Hasakah countryside, in “Peace Spring” areas, over electricity, drinking water and other basic services.
- Members of Al-Hamzah faction dug tombs in Ras Al-Ain city (Sere Kaniye) and especially targeted the Yazidis ones because valuable gold and silver objects were buried in the tombs. Also, Turkish-backed factions especially Al-Hamzah and Al-Sultan Murad search and dug archaeological sites in Tal Halaf, and other districts in old Ras Al-Ain like Al-Abrah and Al-Kharba.
- The torture of a young man by members of Souqour Al-Sunnah faction under control of Ahrar Al-Sham movement in Silouk town in Al-Raqqa countryside provoked publicanger. On September 9, SOHR obtained a video tape of two members of that faction torturing a young man from Al-Raqqa province heinously after stripping him of his clothes because he criticised the faction on social media.
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 abuse and violations committed by lawless factions, including thefts, murders, looting, arrests and kidnappings.
The Syrian Observatory would like to point out that all information and figures mentioned in this report have been documented and updated until the date of publication.