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APRIL 2021

3 Years Of Afrin Occupation: A Wide Record Of Turkish Crimes Against Civilians

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3 Years Of Afrin Occupation: A Wide Record Of Turkish Crimes Against Civilians

Illustrative Image

Submitted by Khaled Iskef.

This year marks the third anniversary of Turkish forces and their factions’ gaining control over Afrin and the suburbs of the northern countryside of Aleppo.

Throughout these years, Turkish crimes against civilians have continued in the region, as well as the changing of the demographic structure in the region by displacing the residents from their homes and their replacement with families of the pro-Ankara factions. Sources stated that more than 300 thousand people have been displaced from Afrin after the Turkish invasion in 2018.

In addition to the systematic displacement, there were arrests and kidnappings under false pretenses and alleged accusations of dealing with the SDF against everyone whom the “pro-Ankara factions” wanted to be arrested, while the detainees were released after their families were pressured to pay a ransom. The sources indicate the existence of about 1000 kidnapped in the prisons of these factions with unknown status or location so far.

Moreover, the pro-Ankara factions robbed civilians’ properties, including homes, agricultural lands etc, as the sources confirmed that Ankara factions had seized more than 1,300 homes in Afrin and its surroundings and distributed them to the families of the militants or turned them into military headquarters, as well as seized agricultural lands estimated to be ​​more than 600 hectares which include about 3 million olive trees.

The processes of demographic change and the distortion of the Syrian identity in the region also included the establishment of local councils belonging to the Turkish governors, the raising of the Turkish flag throughout the region, the imposition of the Turkish language in Afrin schools and the establishment of religious institutes and schools that teach children extremist ideas of the Justice and Development Party ruling in Ankara, spreading strictness and separating between males and females among children at an early age, which recalls the methodology of ISIS.

Plans to change the identity of Afrin citizens included distorting of local history, as the famous archaeological sites in Afrin were subjected to random exploration in search of archaeological finds that were stolen and smuggled to Turkey.

According to the sources, more than 44 archaeological sites were brought to blowing, looting and vandalism, most notably the location of the “Prophet Hory” and “Ein Dara”, while about 350 graves of the Yazidi sect were exhumed, and more than 15 religious shrines were sabotaged.

On the security side, throughout the three years under the influence of the Turkish forces and their factions Afrin witnessed a state of security chaos, and successive bombings that caused civilian casualties, estimated at more than 300 people and about 700 injured, in addition to the victims of the clashes that erupted occasionally due to infighting between the Turkish-backed factions in the region.

It is noteworthy that the Turkish forces and their factions took control of Afrin on March 18, 2018, after the SDF refused to hand over the area to the Free Syrian army to protect it from the Turkish invasion, which ultimately made the Turks and their militants take control over it.

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