Another civilian kidnapped in occupied Afrin

The Turkish state and allied mercenaries continue committing crimes in the northern Syrian canton of Afrin, which they occupied in 2018.

The Turkish state, which has established a total terror regime in the occupied Afrin region, systematically kidnaps people and demands ransom from their families. The abducted are usually kept at different points in the Afrin canton, where they are subjected to brutal torture.

The so-called “Military Police”, a paramilitary criminal network established by the Turkish state in the occupied Afrin region, kidnapped a civilian from the Jindires district.

According to local sources, a 34-year-old resident of the village of Heciler, identified as Amir Muslim Silêman, was kidnapped by the occupation forces and his aftermath remains unknown.

According to data from human rights organisations, over 800 civilians have been kidnapped since the invasion of Afrin in 2018, and more than 7500 abducted. While some of these people were released in return for ransom, the fate of many remains unknown.

The Afrin-Syrian Human Rights Organization reported on June 1 that the Turkish state and its mercenaries (police, civilian police, al-Jabha al-Shamiya and al-Amshar gangs) kidnapped at least 53 people, including 4 women, for arbitrary reasons in May. Thousands of dollars in ransom were demanded for the release of the abductees.

Afrin Canton was the westernmost canton of Rojava and North and East Syria, home to 200,000 ethnic Kurds. Though the population was overwhelmingly Kurdish, it was home to diverse religious groups including Yazidis, Alawites and Christians alongside Sunni Muslims.

On 20 January 2018, Turkey launched air strikes on 100 locations in Afrin, as the onset of an invasion they dubbed ‘Operation Olive Branch.’

The Turkish Airforce indiscriminately shelled civilians as well as YPG/YPJ positions, while a ground assault was carried out by factions and militias organised under the umbrella of the Turkish-backed National Army.

By 15 March, Turkish-backed militias had encircled Afrin city and placed it under artillery bombardment. A Turkish airstrike struck the city’s only functioning hospital, killing 16 civilians.

Civilians fled and the SDF retreated, and by 18 March Turkey was in de facto occupation of Afrin. Between 400 and 500 civilians died in the invasion, overwhelmingly as a result of Turkish bombing. Other civilians were summarily executed in the field.

Prior to the Turkish invasion, Afrin had been one of the most peaceful and secure parts of Syria, virtually never seeing combat during the civil war bar occasional skirmishes between YPG/YPJ and jihadi forces on its borders. As a result, Afrin offered peaceful sanctuary to over 300,000 internally displaced people from elsewhere in Syria.