“Euphrates Shield” areas and surroundings in August 2022 | Nearly 80 casualties in acts of violence…five explosions and infightings…19 kidnaps and arbitrary arrests
SOHR renews its appeals to the international community to protect civilians in “Euphrates Shield” areas from chaos, insecurity, and violations of Turkish-backed factions
Since Turkish forces and their proxy factions captured several areas in Aleppo after a military operation known as “Euphrates Shield”, humanitarian crises have been emerging and worsening gradually, with violations, attacks and explosions occurring 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:
In August 2022, SOHR activists documented the death of 27 people in areas under the control of Turkish forces and factions operating under the banner of “Euphrates Shield” operations room in northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo. The fatalities’ breakdown is as follows:
-22 civilians, including a woman and eight children:
- A child was killed by a gunshot fired by mistake when he was playing with his father’s gun in Mare’ city.
- A child was killed in the explosion of an old landmine in Al-Bab city.
- 17 civilians, including a woman and six children, were killed in a massacre committed by regime forces which shelled an outdoors market and a residential neighbourhood in Al-Bab city.
- A civilian from “Al-Waki” family was shot dead by gunmen in Al-Bab city in north-eastern Aleppo.
- A civilian was killed on the outskirts of Mare’ city by a gunshot fired from areas where Kurdish and regime forces are stationed.
- A young man was killed by a gunshot fired by mistake when he was playing with an AK-47 riffle in Jarabulus city.
- A militiaman of the “National Army” was killed in a guided-missile attack on his military car on Mare’ frontline in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
- A militiaman of the “National Army” was shot dead by a regime sniper on the frontline of Tadef town.
- Two militiamen of the “National Army” were killed in clashes with Kurdish and regime forces on the frontline of Kafr Kalbin in Azaz countryside.
- A militiaman of Al-Sham Corps was found dead with gunshot wounds in the head nearby Azaz.
SOHR also documented the injury of over 52 people in explosions, fights, and ground bombardment in “Euphrates Shield” area and its surroundings in August 2022.
Infightings and explosions
Also, in August 2022, SOHR activists documented three infightings and two explosions in “Euphrates Shield” areas and its surroundings. Here are further details:
- August 17: Clashes with light and medium machineguns erupted between a group of armed men from Hayyan town and Liwaa Asifat Al-Shamal near Al-Dallah roundabout in Azaz city centre in the northern countryside of Aleppo. The clashes caused damage to several shops and the contents of an office inside an automated bread bakery.
- August 22: Several civilians sustained various injuries in clashes with medium weapons and machineguns between “Ramo” and “Salqiny” families in residential neighbourhoods in Al-Bab city in east Aleppo countryside.
- August 24: A young man was injured because of renewed violent clashes with medium and light machineguns between gunmen of “Ramo” and “Salqiny” families near Qudayran roundabout in Al-Bab city centre in east Aleppo countryside.
- August 18: A displaced child from Al-Qusayr city in Homs countryside died of the wounds he sustained in the explosion of an old landmine in Al-Bab city in north-eastern Aleppo.
- August 21: Two children sustained various injuries, one of whom lost his hand, following the explosion of an unexploded blasting cap in Tadef town in Al-Bab countryside in eastern Aleppo.
Furthermore, SOHR activists documented six assaults in that region by Turkish border guards (Jandarma) and Turkish-backed militiamen of the “National Army” in the past month. Further details can be summarised as follows:
- August 1: Members of the military police and Turkish-backed militiamen brutally beat five media activists who were covering a sit-in protest staged by medical staffs in Al-Bab city in Aleppo countryside. Activists had called for staging sit-in protests in front of the hospitals of Afrin, Al-Bab, Al-Ra’i and Mare’, where the protestors called upon the Turkish government for equality between Syrian and Turkish medics and employees working in these hospitals.
- August 6: Members of the military police in “Euphrates Shield” area beat several students among those who were protesting the results of high school exams declared by the “education directorate” in “Euphrates Shield” area and its surroundings, which showed a repetition rate of nearly 90 percent of students. The students were attacked while they were writing graffiti against the educational institution in front of the building of the “Directorate of Educational” in Azaz city in north Aleppo countryside.
- August 8: Militiamen of “Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah” stationed at a checkpoint in Afrin countryside arrested a civilian, his wife and his children who had been displaced from Daraa city, while they attempting to cross into “Euphrates Shield” area from Daraa with the help of smugglers. “Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah” militiamen took the family to the notorious prison of Kafr Jannah in Sharan district and beat the father brutally for “his frequent demands to release his wife and children.” According to SOHR sources, the civilian is a former commander of opposition factions, and he left Daraa city with his family, heading to Idlib province with the help of smugglers, but he was arrested by Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham and was held for hours. As soon as HTS had released the family, they headed to “Euphrates Shield” area where they were arrested at “Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah” checkpoint. The family was released later, after mediation by commanders of “Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah,” who are descended from Daraa.
- August 17: Members of Liwaa Asifat Al-Shamal brutally beat a civilian from Saju village in Azaz countryside in northern Aleppo, while he was attempting to cross into Turkish territory with the help of smugglers.
- August 21: Members of “Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah” brutally beat a civilian from Azaz city, after he had filed a complaint against a commander of the faction from Menagh village in north Aleppo countryside. The militiamen threatened to kill the civilian if he did not withdraw his complaint.
- August 23: Turkish border guards “Jandarma” brutally beat a young man, while he was attempting to sneak into Turkish territory from Al-Ra’ey town in north eastern Aleppo countryside with the help of smugglers. The young man sustained sever injuries.
Arrests and kidnappings
SOHR documented the arbitrary arrest and kidnapping of 19 people in “Euphrates Shield” area and its surroundings in August. They are distributed as follows:
-Arbitrary arrests: 18 cases.
- Ten people were arrested arbitrarily by Turkish intelligence service on charge of “setting fire to Turkish flags during protests against the Turkish Foreign Minister’s statements, in which he offered a proposal for a reconciliation with Al-Assad’s regime.
- A civilian was arbitrarily arrested by Turkish intelligence service for “forging ID cards for members of Kurdish forces.”
- Four people were arrested by the civil police in Al-Nu’man village in Al-Bab countryside for “abetting protests against the Turkish Foreign Minister’s statements.
- Three people were arrested arbitrarily by the military police and “Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah.”
-Kidnappings: One case
An elderly man from Homs city known as “Youssef Abdullah Al-Jarrah” was kidnapped by a smuggler nicknamed “Abu Hamza” who asked the man’s family to pay a ransom of 5,000 USD in return for his release. The kidnapper threatened to kill the man if his family refused to pay the ransom.
Public protests opposing statements by Turkish FM
SOHR reported widespread public protests in areas under the control of Turkish forces and factions operating under the banner of “Euphrates Shield” operations room against the latest statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister. Residents took to the streets in Azaz, Suran, Ihtimaylat and other areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo, denouncing statements by Cavusoglu, in which he said, “we need to somehow come to terms with the opposition and the regime in Syria.”
According to SOHR sources, protestors in Azaz city in northern Aleppo stormed the security directorate in the city, before they headed to the headquarters of the city’s local council, downed the Turkish flag and set fire to it, amid calls to remove Turkish flags in all areas under the control of Turkish-backed factions.
Moreover, protestors blocked a Turkish convoy on Azaz-Afrin highway, preventing it from crossing into Azaz city.
The protestors also left graffiti on the walls of these areas, the most prominent of which read “down with Turkey and down with regime.”
It seems that violations in “Euphrates Shield” area will not stop as long as Turkish forces and their proxies keep breaching all international laws and charters, while no party or international or regional player is exhibiting any willingness to put an end to these “grave” violations, despite SOHR repeated warnings about the dreadful humanitarian situation in the region.