The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Turkish government’s lies | Security vacuum and lack of basic livelihood in the so-called “safe zone” contravene statements about safe return of Syrian refugees

The Turkish president Receb Tayyip Erdogan and senior officials of the Turkish government continue to issue statements, confirming that they have secured an appropriate environment for the return of Syrian refugees in the areas controlled by Turkish forces and their proxy factions in north Syria, precisely “Euphrates Shield,” “Olive Branch” and “Peace Spring” areas. However, the disastrous situation in those areas, which have experienced acute shortage of basic livelihood and worrying security chaos, contravenes the Turkish officials’ statements.


Violations are documented on a daily basis, mainly kidnaps and arbitrary arrests by Turkish-backed factions and unidentified gunmen for collecting ransoms.


In August, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) documented the death of 26 civilians in “Euphrates Shield,” “Olive Branch” and “Peace Spring” areas; they are distributed regionally as follows:


-“Euphrates Shield” area: SOHR activists documented the death of 11 civilians in areas under the control of Turkish forces and factions operating under the banner of “Euphrates Shield” operations room and their surroundings in the northern, eastern and north-eastern countryside of Aleppo; they are as follows:


  • Four civilians were killed in indiscriminate gunfire and infightings.


  • Two civilians were killed in unknown circumstances.


  • Two civilians were shot dead by unknown gunmen.


  • One civilian was executed.


  • One civilian was killed by Turkish Jandarma.


  • One civilian was killed in an IED explosion.



-“Olive Branch” area: SOHR documented the death of nine civilians in areas under the control of Turkish forces and factions operating under the banner of “Olive Branch” operations room in the north-western countryside of Aleppo. A breakdown of fatalities is as follows:


  • A man died under torture in a prison of Turkish-backed factions.


  • A man was murdered.


  • Five persons were killed in bombardment by Kurdish and regime forces.


  • A man was killed by Turkish-backed factions.


  • A man was killed in indiscriminate gunfire.



-“Peace Spring” area: SOHR documented six civilian fatalities in “Peace Spring” areas, and here are further details:


  • A man and his wife were killed by Turkish-backed factions.


  • Three civilians were killed by the Turkish Jandarma.


  • A young man died under torture in a prison of Turkish-backed factions.



Inhabitants of many makeshift camps in those areas are struggling with dreadful living conditions and unaffordable prices of all products due to the ongoing freefall of the Turkish currency, which is adopted in this region, against the US dollar. In addition, those areas have experienced very poor job opportunities, while Turkish-backed factions continue repressing and clamping down on civilians.


Moreover, Turkish-backed organisations and other authorities have recently worked on constructing residential villages in the so-called “safe zone” for hosting Syrian refugees returning from Turkey, at a time when Turkish authorities continue oppressing Syrian refugees to force them to return, claiming that those refugees return to Syria voluntarily.


The so-called “safe zone” have experienced scores of factional infightings, which left many casualties and triggered panic among civilians, the latest incident of which is the military tension between “Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement” and factions of the “National Army,” which has not come to an end so far.


On the other hand, Turkish forces closed the crossings of Deir Ballout and Al-Ghazawiyah between Idlib and Afrin following the growing tension among factions of “Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement,” one of which is allied with Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham, where the HTS-backed faction managed to take control of Thalthanah crossing in Al-Bab countryside, near Hamaran crossing which every faction attempt to dominate.


“Ahrar Olan” faction, which is allied with HTS, launched a violent attack on positions of “Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movemnet” in Thalthanah village in Al-Bab countryside, and it managed to take control of the village following violent clashes between the two sides. Meanwhile, other groups of “Ahrar Olan” have besieged Ablah village where the group of “Abu Haydar Maskanah,” which is allied with the 2nd Corps of the “National Army,” is holed up.


Also, Turkish border guards (Jandarma) continue their violent pushbacks against Syrian civilians who attempt to cross the border strip between Syria and Turkey, seeking a safe haven, where areas along the border strip stretching from western Idlib in the north-west Syria to the far north-eastern region of Syria experience frequent assaults against Syrians attempting to sneak into Turkey.