“Olive Branch” areas in September 2022 | 63 kidnappings and arbitrary arrests…43 human rights violations…ongoing demographic change • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

“Olive Branch” areas in September 2022 | 63 kidnappings and arbitrary arrests…43 human rights violations…ongoing demographic change

SOHR calls on the international community to intervene immediately and protect civilians from systematic violations by Turkish-backed factions

Since Turkish forces and their proxy factions captured several areas in north-western Aleppo, namely Afrin canton, after a military operation known as “Olive Branch”, 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 prominent developments and gross violations in these areas in September 2022, which can be summarised in the following main points:



Acts of violence leave fatalities


In September, SOHR documented the death of seven people in areas under the control of Turkish forces and factions operating under the banner of “Olive Branch” operation room in the north-western countryside of Aleppo. A breakdown of fatalities is as follows:


-Five civilians, including two children and a woman:


  • A displaced man from Hama countryside was shot dead while attempting to rob a house in Raju district in Afrin countryside.


  • A woman was shot dead by a rebel.


  • A new-born baby found dead after being strangled.


  • A child was killed by a gunshot that was accidentally fired from his father’s weapon.


  • An unidentified man was found dead on a farmland in Bulbul district.


-Two combatants:


  • A leader of Al-Sham Corps, which is close to Turkish intelligence, was killed when his car was attacked by regime forces on Kabashin frontline in Shirawa district.


  • A Turkish soldier died of the injuries he sustained in late August in an attack on a Turkish armoured vehicle in Aleppo countryside.



Explosions and infightings


“Olive Branch” area witnessed one explosion on September 22, when a motorcycle bomb exploded near Al-Binaa Al-Azraq in Afrin city centre. The explosion left four civilians, including children, injured.


Meanwhile, “Olive Branch” areas saw no infightings in the past month.



Ongoing heinous crimes and violations


As Turkish-backed factions continue their blatant violations on a daily basis against the residents who have chosen to stay in their areas over displacement and against people displaced to Afrin canton, SOHR has documented 63 kidnappings and arbitrary arrests of civilians, including a woman and one child, by Turkish-backed factions in September. Four people were released after paying ransoms.


Furthermore, SOHR has documented over 43 other violations distributed as follows:


-16 incidents of selling displaced people’s houses which had been forcibly seized earlier by Turkish-backed factions. The houses were sold at low prices and in US dollars in particular.


-11 incidents of imposition of levies on civilians by factions and Military Police; are as follows:


  • Four incidents related to the imposition of levies in return for the release of detainees.


  • Seven incidents of imposition of levies by “National Army” factions and local councils on farmers in exchange for allowing them to harvest olives, and other levies on the owners of olive pressers.


-Six incidents of felling fruit-bearing trees by factions of Turkish-backed “National Army,” where over 625 trees: 535 olive trees and 60 almond trees, were cut down in several areas in villages and districts of Afrin.


-Three thefts carried out by “National Army” factions, including looting of nearly 245 olive trees in Afrin.



SOHR also documented seven assaults by various factions of the “National Army” in September; further details are as follows:


  • September 2: Members of Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah faction in Ashrafieh neighbourhood severely beat a resident from Afrin city under the pretext that “the man had parked his car in front of Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyyah leader’s house, threatening to break his car if he parked it in front of the leader’s house again.


  • September 2: Members of Jayish Al-Sharqiyah brutally beat, with rifle butts, a displaced civilian from Al-Bokamal city in Deir Ezzor countryside for “insulting a commander of Jayish Al-Sharqiyah in Afrin city centre.” The man sustained bruises all over his body and was transferred to a military hospital in Afrin city.


  • September 8: Militiamen stationed at a checkpoint of Al-Hamza Division at the entrance of Bablit village in Afrin countryside severely beat a civilian from Afrin canton and held him for hours, before he was release, under the pretext that “he refused to stop at the checkpoint.”


  • September 10: Members of the security forces of Al-Sultan Murad faction severely beat a displaced man in front of a bread bakery that distributes subsidised bread in Al-Zaydiyah district in Afrin.


  • September 15: Members of Turkish-backed Al-Mu’tasim faction stationed at the entrance to Qibar village in Afrin countryside severely beat a man from Duma city in Eastern Ghouta with rifle butts. The man suffered bruises and was taken to the hospital.


  • September 17: During the funeral of a Yazidi woman, members of Al-Sultan Murad Division brutally beat civilians, claiming that one of the cars was trying to hit their car. When residents interfered to prevent the militiamen from beating civilians, they were also beaten by the Turkish-backed militiamen, who threaten to arrest the residents for “attempting to kill members of Al-Sultan Murad Division and verbally abusing them.”


  • September 24: Ahrar Al-Sharqiyyah members severely beat an elderly man from Jendires district when he asked the faction members not to steal olive crops. The elderly man was transferred to a hospital in Afrin.



Ongoing systematic demographic change in Afrin


In the light of the ongoing demographic change in Afrin canton which is under the control of Turkish forces and their proxy factions, a Palestinian charity called “Wafaa Al-Mohsenin” completed the first phase of the construction of “residential compounds” to house displaced persons in Afrin whose inhabitants were displaced during “Olive Branch” operation which was carried out by Turkish forces and their proxy factions.


These “residential compounds” are located near Kafr Safrah, in Jendires district, in Afrin countryside, north-west of Aleppo.


According to SOHR activists, the Palestinian association handed over 34 housing units to displaced Syrian and Palestinian people after the completion of the first phase. Each residential unit consists of two rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom.


Those residential compounds contain 250 houses with full services, a school, a mosque, and shops. According to SOHR sources, these residential compounds were built at the foot of “Hajj Muhammad” mountain after forest trees were felled and several displaced people from Damascus were settled. Meanwhile, the construction is continuing under the second phase. In the second phase of construction, 80 residential units are planned to be constructed with the support by Omani individuals.



It seems that violations in “Olive Branch” areas 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’s repeated warnings about the dreadful humanitarian situation in the region.