Invaders storm a village and kidnap six residents in Afrin

Mercenaries loyal to Turkey stormed a village and kidnapped six people in Afrin to an unknown location.

Since the occupation of Afrin, kidnappings by mercenaries loyal to Turkey continue. The so-called civil police backed by Turkish intelligence (MIT) raided the village of Kefer Zite in Jindires district. 

As a result of the raid with dozens of military vehicles, the invaders kidnapped locals named Bekir Hesen Xêro (35), Rêber Hesen Xêro (32), Elî Kalo (40), Mihemed Ferîd (28), Mihemed Kalo (36) and Ednan Ebdo (39).

Abducted persons are often taken to torture centres run by the mercenary groups and are only released in exchange for high ransom payments. In the torture centres, agents of the Turkish secret service MIT are actively involved in the torture and thus try to extort information about the ongoing resistance in Afrin.

With names like "civil police", Turkey tries to give the mercenary groups a legal veneer. In reality, however, they are a conglomerate of jihadists and Turkish right-wing extremists who compete with each other for ransoms, loot and protection money and operate their own torture prisons under the control of the MIT. The so-called "civil police" have been given control tasks inside Afrin in particular. At the same time, the al-Qaeda offshoot HTS (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) is stationed there to a large extent.

According to the human rights organisation Afrin-Syria, 346 people were abducted by the occupying forces and their mercenary militias in the first half of 2022. Among them are 30 women. At least 18 people were murdered in this context in the first half of the year. More up-to-date statistics are not yet available.

Afrin occupied since 2018

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.