YPJ Info releases report about Turkish crimes and violations in Afrin

On the anniversary of the Afrin occupation, YPJ Info published a report on the crimes and violations of the Turkish state in the region of Afrin.


The YPJ-Info (Women's Defense Units) released a detailed report on Turkish crimes and violations in the region of Afrin. The publication coincides with the sixth anniversary of the Turkish occupation of the region. 

The report said: "The Turkish occupation military forces, along with armed groups loyal to them, launched the so-called Olive Branch operation in the Afrin region in January 2018. This operation saw the use of various air and ground weapons, including internationally prohibited ones, resulting in severe consequences for the Kurdish community and other peoples in the area. Innocent civilians, including many children, women, and the elderly, suffered greatly, with many killed or wounded. The operation also led to a mass forced displacement of the indigenous population, with many ending up in displacement areas in the Tal Rifaat camps (Al-Shahba) and others moving to different Syrian regions."

The remaining Kurds in Afrin, said the report, "do not exceed 193,000. They are facing increasing chaos and danger while the occupier prepared the ground for crimes to proliferate. These crimes include random murder and kidnapping in secret detention centers, theft, looting, armed robbery, imposing royalties and ransom, cutting down and burning trees, and seizing public and private property by thieves and gangs. Militia members and armed settlers are also promoting drugs and prostitution, while fighting the Kurds for a living due to the lack of job opportunities and the high prices of basic food. Their intention is to force the Kurds to leave and abandon their property to the armed occupiers and settlers."

The report added: "Many human rights violations were perpetrated against the indigenous Kurdish population in a calculated fashion, such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, and forced displacement. In an effort to alter the demographics of the region, Turkish and Arab population have been settled in the area, while cultural and historical sites have been destroyed. Many individuals, including children, lost their lives. Countless women were subjected to rape. Gangs and mercenaries unlawfully took over thousands of properties and homes from the native inhabitants of Afrin. The crimes committed were numerous and varied, including killing, detention, forced disappearance, torture, seizure of public and private property, and sexual violence in all forms.

Furthermore, there was destruction of archaeological sites, warehouses, and religious shrines used by various religions. Additionally, multiple cemeteries were bulldozed, with one being converted into a livestock market. The ongoing brutal acts in Afrin today, carried out by mercenary groups and factions directly linked to the Turkish state, are in clear violation of international human rights standards. These groups continue to attack civilians, resulting in deaths, kidnappings, imprisonment, torture, theft, robbery, and brutalization. The original inhabitants of Afrin who still reside there are facing these atrocities on a daily basis."

The report continued: "The displacement of people from Afrin has been further exacerbated by violations and crimes, particularly in the Tal Rifaat area, its camps, and neighboring villages. These areas have been the site of conflicts and wars, and have fallen under the control of armed factions and ISIS. As a result, much of the infrastructure, facilities, and homes have been destroyed, rendering them uninhabitable. Despite this, displaced Afrin refugees still live in these areas, which continue to be targeted." 

Almost daily, said the report, "the Syrian National Army has been responsible for numerous massacres resulting in the deaths and injuries of dozens of civilians. One such tragic event took place in Tal Rifaat on 12/2/2019, when ten people, including eight children, lost their lives and sixteen others were wounded. Another episode was the Aqiba massacre, where an entire family of Afrin refugees, consisting of three individuals, fell victim – including an 11-year-old girl. Sadly, these horrors were compounded by a devastating earthquake that struck several cities in Syria and Turkey, most notably Jindires on Monday the 6th of February 2023.

This earthquake resulted in hundreds of fatalities, injuries, and widespread destruction of buildings while inhabitants were inside. To add to the Kurdish residents’ woes, they faced mistreatment at the hands of the factions of the “Syrian National Army” supported by Turkey and the settlers in the area, who even resorted to stealing aid meant for the victims. Humanitarian aid, provided by charitable organizations and societies, was being seized by force and Kurdish citizens were being deprived of this aid under the watchful eye of Turkish state authorities.

Despite the entry of delegations and international organizations into the region (World Health, UNICEF and others), the situation has not improved but rather worsened. Most of the residents of the Jindires area have set up tents in the ruins of their destroyed homes out of fear of theft. An example of this is a Kurdish family who were victims of a massacre by members of the National Army factions on 3/20/2023. Four members of the family were killed in cold blood because one of their sons lit the Newroz fire, a symbol of a holiday celebrated by many peoples around the world. This heinous crime happened in front of the entire world, with no accountability for the perpetrators."

The report listed the main crimes carried out by Turkey as follows: 

"Demographic change; Spreading extremist religious thought in the name of Islam; Stealing, robbing, plundering, confiscating belongings, armed theft, and assault; Cutting and burning fruit and forest trees; Damaging archaeological sites; Kidnapping; Settlements; Bombings and attacks."

Statistics of violations from the beginning of the occupation until 3/15/2024

1- Kidnapping: More than 9,186 people were kidnapped, including more than 1,000 women

2- Murder: More than 693 people were killed, including 97 people under torture and 104 women, including 11 cases of suicide and 74 cases of sexual assault.

3- Trees: Cutting down more than 400 thousand fruit and forest trees, burning more than 15 thousand fruit trees, burning thousands of forest trees, and burning more than a third of the area allocated for agriculture.

4- Settlements: Building more than 30 settlements and camps in the areas of Afrin

5- Antiquities: exhuming and destroying more than 75 archaeological mounds, more than 59 sites, more than 28 religious shrines, and exhuming graves.