More civilians kidnapped in Turkish-occupied Afrin
208 citizens, including 24 women and a child, have been abducted in Afrin since the beginning of 2023. During the same period of time, at least 13 people, including 3 women, were killed.
According to local sources, Turkish-backed mercenaries kidnapped a woman and a man from the village of Şêxûtka in Afrin’s Mabata district. The kidnapped civilians, identified as Ehad Seydo and Nezîre Hemîd Mihemed, were taken to an undisclosed location and no news has been received from them since their abduction.
On the other hand, the paramilitary criminal network “Civil Police” kidnapped 29-year-old Hisên Dilo from the village of Hêkêçe in Shiye district.
In the meantime, members of the Ankara-affiliated al-Hamzat mercenary group have cut down hundreds of trees in the vicinity of the village of Mizê in Shera district.
Another mercenary group, Sultan Murat, asked for a ransom of 2 thousand dollars from the family of Horo Hesen Hiso in return for giving him back his house in the village of Dêrsewan in Shera district.
According to another source, the Ahrar al-Sharqiya mercenaries are opening “commerce” offices in Afrin and renting the houses of the local people who were forcibly displaced by the use of violence, threats and atrocities. The houses are reportedly rented for 2 to 4 thousand dollars to the foreigners brought in from outside the region. The shops of the displaced locals are rented for a thousand dollars for a year.
Over 200 people kidnapped in seven months
According to the Afrin-Syria Human Rights Organization, 208 citizens, including 24 women and a child, have been abducted since the beginning of 2023. During the same period of time, at least 13 people, including 3 women, were killed. More than 16,000 trees were cut down, over a thousand trees were uprooted and over 70 hectares of land were burned.
In a statement on August 10, the organization stated that, “The invading Turkish state systematically violates human rights by carrying out crimes such as massacres, kidnappings, violence, ransoms, confiscation of people's properties, reselling the confiscated materials in the market and plundering the environment.”
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.