“Peace Spring” areas in October 2022 | Three factional infightings leave casualties amid ongoing violations against civilians by Turkish-backed factions
Human rights violations have been escalating 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. These forces’ aim is to accomplish specific economic and political objectives through exploiting the region’s wealth, resources and people.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored and tracked all developments and violations committed in “Peace Spring” areas in October 2022.
In October, a woman and a combatant were killed in “Peace Spring” areas, and here are further details:
- A woman was killed in indiscriminate gunfire during an armed fight between gunmen from Al-Ekaydat tribe, which is loyal to “Ahrar Al-Sharqiyyah faction, and the military police in Ras Al-Ain city (Sere Kaniye).
- A member of Ahrar Al-Sharqiyyah faction was shot dead in front of his house following disagreements with members of Al-Hamza Division which evolved to an armed fight in Ras Al-Ain city (Sere Kaniye) in Al-Hasakah countryside.
No explosions were documented by SOHR in “Peace Spring” areas in October. However, the area experienced three infightings in the past month, which left a woman and a combatant dead and others injured, with the first taking place on October 11 when members of “Al-Ekaydat” tribe, which is loyal to “Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah” faction, attacked military police headquarters run by “Al-Hamzat Division” in Ras Al-Ain city. According to reliable SOHR sources, the attack followed the arrest of a woman from “Al-Ekaydat” tribe by military police for unknown reasons, where the attackers used RPGs and medium weapons. The fight led to the death of a woman and injury of others because of indiscriminate gunfire.
The second infighting took place on October 21 when a member of Ahrar Al-Sharqiyyah faction was shot dead in front of his house following disagreements with members of Al-Hamza Division which evolved to an armed fight in Ras Al-Ain city (Sere Kaniye) in Al-Hasakah countryside.
While the third infighting was documented on October 22 when clashes erupted between members of “Al-Hamza Division” in the market in Ras Al-Ain city in Al-Hasakah countryside following disputes over smuggling of fuel and humans. However, no casualties were reported.
“Peace Spring” area also experienced other incidents of security disorder. Here are further details:
On October 5, members of “Al-Jabha Al-Shamiyah” faction shot a civilian inside “Ali Bin Aby Talib” Mosque in Tel Abyad area in north Al-Raqqa countryside within “Peace Spring” area, injuring him severely.
On the same day, unidentified gunmen in a van opened fire on military police headquarters in Ras Al-Ain in Al-Hasakah countryside. Clashes erupted between the attackers and members of the military police, before the attackers escaped.
While on October 20, members of Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah, which operates under the banner of the “National Army,” stabbed a civilian, after storming his house in Ras Al-Ain city. According to reliable SOHR sources, Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah members cut the civilian’s reproductive organ using a sharp tool for “committing unethical acts in his house,” as well as disputes over smuggling operations. The man was taken to the National Hospital.
On the other hand, Turkish-backed factions continued their violations against civilians, where SOHR activists have documented three kidnappings and arbitrary arrests in “Peace Spring” area in October.
On October 3, Turkish-backed factions kidnapped a minor from Daraa province, after Turkish authorities had deported him from Turkey to Ras Al-Ain city in Al-Hasakah countryside. According to SOHR sources, the factions asked the boy’s family to pay a ransom of 20,000 USD for his release, threatening to kill him.
While on October 9, members of the Turkish-backed Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah arrested a street artist from Al-Hasakah, while he was sneaking to Ras Al-Ain area in “Peace Spring” area, with the help of smugglers to migrate to Europe, seeking for a safe haven. According to reliable SOHR sources, members of Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah communicated with the detainee’s family and demanded a ransom for his release. The man was released 48 hours after his family having paid the requested ransom.
Also, on October 11, militiamen of Shuhadaa Badr, a military group operating under the banner of Ahrar Al-Sharqiyyah, arrested a young man from Al-Hasakah countryside, while he was on his way to Al-Aziziyah village in Ras Al-Ain countryside, in “Peace Spring” area to sneak into Europe. The fate of the man remains unknown.
Similarly, on October 24, Ahrar Al-Sharqiya faction released 15 civilians, including two women, after having detained some of them for more than two months. The civilians, who have been delivered to Turkey, were released after ransoms had been paid by their relatives and after mediation by dignitaries of “Arab Al-Ghamr,” while the fate of ten others remains unknown. According to Observatory activists, the faction had arrested several Syrian civilians, some from Al-Hasakah countryside, Aleppo city and countryside and Deir Ezzor, while attempting to cross into Turkish territory from “Peace Spring” area from SDF-held areas via routes used for smuggling.
One of the released civilians told SOHR that members of Ahrar Al-Sharqiyyah faction had forced them to record a videotape, a copy of which was obtained by SOHR, in which they were forced to praise the “smuggler” and to say that the road to Turkey was safe and there was no risks. The man added that they, the detainees, were detained in a prison in Ras Al-Ain, and that he was detained with 50 other people in a prison cell of an area of only two square metres, and they received a little food.
Moreover, a prominent event took place in “Peace Spring” area on October 27 when five UN vehicles paid a visit to Allouk water station in “Peace Spring” area in Al-Hasakah countryside, under the protection of Turkish forces. This visit was the first of its kind since Turkey captured the area in 2019.
On the same day, Turkish forces and their proxy factions conducted live-fire exercises near frontlines opposite Abu Rasin town in Ras Al-Ain area, north-west of Al-Hasakah. The military drills included exercises with heavy weapons and machineguns, where the targets were abandoned huts on the area’s farms, whose owners have been forced to be displaced during “Peace Spring” military operation in 2019.
In the meantime, SOHR activists monitored a public protest staged by residents of Tel Abyad city in north Al-Raqqa countryside under the slogan “Factions that helped Al-Julani have betrayed the Revolution.” The protestors expressed their rejection of the expansion of HTS in “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch” areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo. The protestors held banners with slogans written on them, some read “Abo Ghanoum, we will revenge for your death – Peace Spring area is land of green and does not accept darkness – we want to unify military ranks and liberate Syria from terrorism.”
It is worth noting that all areas under the control of Turkish forces and their proxies experienced public protests opposing HTS control of parts in “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch” areas at the expense of the “National Army” factions.
Overall, this bleak picture remains in place, with the widespread corruption and tyranny of the Turkish-backed factions without any deterrent preventing them from committing further humanitarian crimes against Syrian civilians in the “Peace Spring” areas.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, therefore, renews its appeal 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.