SOHR: 55 civilians kidnapped or arrested in Afrin in April
Turkish-backed groups arrested and kidnapped 55 civilians in May, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Friday.
17 people were released after paying ransoms.
Additionally, 10 people were killed in Afrin, including six combatants in violent incidents.
Two Turkish soldiers were also killed in an attack by Kurdish forces in Afrin.
The SOHR reported there were a total of 54 human rights violations in Afrin in May.
The report comes amidst renewed Turkish threats to attack Manbij and Tal Rafaat. Both Russia and the US have urged Turkey not to launch another operation against the Kurdish-led forces.
Turkish-backed factions have occupied Afrin since March 2018, when the Turkish Army launched a cross-border offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Since then, there have been several international reports on human rights violations in Afrin, including the kidnapping and sexual abuse of women, antique smuggling, confiscation of civilian houses, and kidnappings for ransom.
In addition, the area sees frequent infighting between rival factions, also causing civilian deaths.
Three separate clashes between Turkish-backed groups took place in Afrin in May.
“SOHR calls on the international community to intervene immediately and protect civilians from systematic violations by Turkish-backed factions,” the SOHR said.
In April, 30 civilians were kidnapped or arrested in Afrin, an earlier SOHR report said.
Ankara has carried out three cross-border military operations in Syria to date. They were Operation Euphrates Shield (August 2016-March 2017), Operation Olive Branch (January 2018-March 2018), and Operation Peace Spring (October 2019).
The primary aim of these operations was to prevent territorial expansion by the YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
There are new fears among civilians that similar human rights abuses will take place if Turkey launches a new operation in Manbij and Tal Rifaat.