60 people abducted in Afrin in February

In the month of February alone, at least 60 abductions by the occupation forces and their mercenaries in Afrin were recorded by human rights activists. In addition, six historical sites were destroyed and over 1,800 trees were cut down.

The Human Rights Organisation of Afrin has published a balance sheet of the crimes committed by the Turkish occupation forces and their mercenaries in Afrin. According to the report, sixty people, four of them women, were abducted in February alone, six historical sites were razed and 1,818 trees were cut down. From the beginning of the occupation on 18 March 2018 until December 2021, the human rights organisation had recorded 686 deaths and 8,455 abductions. Many of those abducted remain disappeared.

Various mercenary militias and the Turkish secret service, MIT, are behind the kidnappings. The mercenary militias are notorious jihadist militias such as Furqat al-Hamzat, Ahrar al-Sharqiya, the Sultan Murad Brigade. The kidnappings serve several purposes, including financial. The mercenaries extort ransoms from the families of the abducted civilians. Basically, the kidnappings are aimed at the displacement of the population of Afrin and the demographic transformation of the region. Again and again, people are abducted to Turkey under the pretext of supporting the resistance, where they are tortured and imprisoned for many years.

Demographic change in the region

Among other things, this is also shown by the figures: The population of Afrin was at least 96 percent Kurdish before the occupation, which has lasted since 18 March 2018. Today, the proportion of the Kurdish population is less than 23 percent, some sources even speak of only 15 percent. Of the approximately 15,000 members of the Alavi faith, just 200 remain. The number of Yazidi believers has been reduced from 25,000 to 2,000 under Turkish occupation.

Six archaeological sites devastated

At the same time, there is also an attack on the historical sites of the region. According to reports by the human rights organisation, six historical sites were destroyed in February alone. At the Marani hill near Afrin, looted excavations for gold objects and other historical valuables took place. Furthermore, there was massive destruction of the medieval caravanserai at Tell Sultan. The ruins from the 13th century were devastated by heavy construction equipment. Near the village of Gemrûkê, the hitherto barely documented settlement mound Tell Şorbe was razed to the ground by occupation militias. Tell Laq and Tell Çiya were also affected by such disastrous looting. The archaeological site on Tell Birk Abdala, which has been protected as an archaeological city since 1981, was also destroyed by the occupation forces.