Amid continuous media silence on the crimes in Afrin, about 1000 people were kidnapped to collect royalties from them, systematic looting, recruiting displaced people in exchange for settlement, and catastrophic humanitarian conditions
The city of Afrin and its towns and villages are still witnessing a conflict over the property of its displaced population, by the factions operating in the Turkish-led Operation “Olive Branch”, while the resentment of people remains trapped within them, staying quit about their tragedy out of fear of a greater catastrophe that they may witness from those who are controlling their own area, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights received complaints from the people about the daily harassment they are living, with continuous violations against them, where residents confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that the Turkish forces and opposition factions continue their abductions of Syrian civilians in Afrin area; under the pretext of being connected to the Kurdish Forces and the Democratic Union Party, where they are being taken to headquarters in Afrin area where they are investigated, tortured, and insulted, and the number of abductees have reached about 1000 people, according to intersected sources confirmed that to the Syrian Observatory, where more than half of them have been released after paying bribes and ransom to the factions that arrested them, while the Turkish forces and the factions refrained from releasing the rest of them except after paying money by their relatives, also the residents confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that the factions in Afrin city and the rest of the areas in its countryside are informing and threatening families and shopkeepers that they must pay them, and if they cannot pay them; fighters of the faction arrest them and force their relatives to provide that amount of money.
The residents confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that the harassment did not stop at this point, of abduction, collecting money, torture, and humiliation, but rather to the fact that some checkpoints of a Division that operates under the banner of “Olive Branch” which are scattered in al-Basutah road area, are looting money from the citizens who pass through this road, especially the vehicles carrying food and fuel, and they prevent the passage of trucks and vehicles without paying royalty, they also take royalties from the citizens in exchange for transferring them through al-Basutah road to Afrin city by military missions; after the closure of the road by the Turkish Forces, where recently the roads to Afrin city have witnessed a search and scrutiny on the checkpoints of the Turkish Forces and the “Olive Branch” operation factions.
The settlements have not stopped, where each faction is trying to increase the number of its fighters by announcing “offers” to settling its fighters in Afrin, and giving them homes and salaries to join its ranks, where displaced people from the Eastern Ghouta and other Syrian areas have had settlement in exchange for being recruited in the ranks of “Olive Branch”, or the factions that displaced from several other Syrian areas, along with seizing more property of the citizens of agricultural lands, farms, houses, vehicles and other property by members and fighters of these factions, where some of immovable properties are being completely seized, while the movable properties are being seized, of furniture, vehicles, jewelry, and electronic devices.
The locals confirmed the SOHR that fighters of some factions have ignited the property of citizens as a revenge against some of them, and as a response for citizens’ refusal to pay royalties for the factions which are located in their controlled areas in the vicinity of Afrin city and the areas of Bulbula, Raju, Sharra, Shirawa, Jendires, Maabatli and Meidan Ekbis, where the factions sat on fire in hundreds of fruitful olive trees, and farms which raged the resentment of the residents in which the Turkish forces which claimed that they came to “liberate” them, became the perpetrator of violations and allow them to be carried out without deterring any faction, where reliable sources informed the Syrian Observatory that some residents became afraid of moving in Afrin countryside, for fear of being arrested or assaulted by the factions, which turned the roads to Afrin and the widespread checkpoints, into sources for funding themselves by looting and robbing the passengers, The difficult humanitarian situation in Afrin city and its countryside, are accompanied with disastrous humanitarian and health conditions for hundreds of thousands of displaced people who remained in the northern countryside of Aleppo, whose are prevented from returning to Afrin area by the forces of “Olive Branch” operation and the Turkish Forces who are located on the outskirts of the Afrin region from the side of the northern countryside of Aleppo, while medical and relief organizations are looking away of their tragedy, and turn their back and they do not provide life-saving assistance or prevent the hunger and disease from spreading among them in these extreme weather conditions.
The looting, arrests and killing were met, as a response, by assassinations against members and fighters of the factions operating within the Operation “Olive Branch”, where assassinations were carried out by cells and members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), where most of the operations were carried out by direct gunfire and setting up ambushes, while the forces of the Operation “Olive Branch” carried out sweeping operations in areas in Afrin in search for these cells, and they arrested several people and took them to their headquarters on charge of “operating as sleeper cells of the Kurdish forces”, where the SOHR monitored about 98 attacks by members and groups of the Kurdish forces, against the Turkish forces and the Syrian opposition factions, through detonating landmines and IEDs and targeting by missiles using shoulder-fired launchers, which resulted in the death of tens of fighters of the factions and the Turkish forces during targeting operations whose pace escalated in the past 3 months, and resulted in the fall of casualties and wounded in the ranks of the both parties, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the rise of number of casualties as a result of the continuation of these groups of the YPG to carry out targeting operation against the Turkish forces and the factions in Afrin area, where it rose to at least 1542, the number of fighters of the YPG and the Self-Defense forces who have been killed since the start of the Operation “Olive Branch”, while it rose to 609, the number of members of the Turkish forces and the rebel and Islamic factions including 83 soldiers of the Turkish forces, who were killed in the clashes against the Kurdish Units in Afrin area and in the targeting they have been subjected to.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has monitored fighting between factions operating in Operation “Olive Branch”, which are in control of Afrin city, as a result of disagreements on houses and checkpoints in the city, after these factions shared control inside Afrin city and in its countryside, and the Syrian Observatory published weeks ago, that displaced families in the northern countryside of Aleppo were able to return to Afrin area, after being allowed by the checkpoints of factions and the Turkish Forces to return to the area, sources told the Syrian Observatory that the numbers of returnees is considered too small compared to hundreds of thousands of who have been displaced from Afrin and its countryside, and the returning families are being subjected to investigation about the existence of family members who are enrolled in the Self-Defense duty, and whether they were joined voluntarily or are forced to do so, as well as their partisan and political connection with the Democratic Union Party and Kurdish Forces, while reliable sources told the Syrian Observatory that some of the citizens who tried to return to Afrin in the past days were shot by members on a checkpoint of the Kurdish Units, which killed a young man and information about other wounded people, where that shooting took place during a demonstration called for the open of road to for them to return to their homes in Afrin area.
And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored over the past few weeks that the Turkish authorities resettled the displaced people of the Eastern Qalamoun and the Eastern Ghouta in Afrin area, after displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians out of it, by the military operation carried out by the Turkish Forces and the Syrian rebel and Islamic factions of the “Olive Branch” Operation, which was launched on the 20th of January 2018 until the 18th of March of the same year, where they completed on Sunday the 29th of April 2018, 6 weeks of controlling the entire area of Afrin, after an intense aerial and ground bombardment that left some 300 civilian casualties in addition to hundreds of wounded and also destroyed property of civilians, public facilities and infrastructure in the villages and towns of Afrin area and Afrin city, the SOHR also monitored the Turkish authorities operating in Afrin area taking the data of people entering Afrin area, particularly the displaced people of the Eastern Ghouta, where their fingerprints and eye prints of the inhabitants of the area are recorded, as well as the full information about them, amid strict procedures for those entering and exiting the area, in addition to stopping and inspecting inhabitants of the area and those who remained and refused to get out of it, where they were searched, scrutinized and interrogated during their movement on the checkpoints of Afrin areas.