It has been almost one month since Turkish military forces and their proxy militia the Free Syrian Army seized control of the previously Kurdish occupied city of Afrin. Now, residents and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) say that chaos and anarchy have taken hold of the once peaceful city. Looting, torture and killing have become commonplace by the newly arrived militia members according to reports by the group. The city and canton are demographically being altered by the occupying force as its residents are forced to move. The newly displaced people are creating a resource dilemma for neighboring areas as well.
SOHR has stated that around 80 people were arrest between March 18th and now, by their count. They added that, “The fate of dozens of them remain unknown.” It has been estimated that somewhere from fifty-thousand to seventy-thousand people still live in Afrin in total. According to The Observatory, it is speculated that “arrests” made by the militias are used for trade in human trafficking. Civilians and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (specifically YPG affiliates) are “arrested” and then ransomed for their release.
The United Kingdom based Observatory, is reporting that several of the city’s citizens have been killed for absurd transgressions stating, “a young man who … was suffering from mental disorders.” The man was accused of being affiliated to the PKK, photos were issued depicting a bloodied and beaten man. Local media outlets with connections to Rojava based Kurdish collectives reported that he was arrested and beaten for expressing his objections toward the Turkish military invading and occupying Afrin. The man was eventually identified as Fereh El Din Mihemed Osman who had lived just southwest of Afrin’s city center in a region known as Jandaris. After his home was supposedly ransacked by militia members, he had demanded his possessions be returned to him; for this they killed him.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his military officials have continuously denied that civilians were target during Operation Inherent Resolve. Turkey has also promised to severely punish anyone who takes part in the looting of homes or businesses in the region. They have also vehemently denied the claims that they were attempting to demographically alter the region by displacing the Kurdish majority. There have been a good deal of complaints by Kurdish residents over the erection Turkish flags and murals of President Erdogan around the city. The displaying pictures of a national leader in this manner is a common practice for many middle eastern countries.
The YPG, PKK, and their affiliates are considered terrorist organizations by Turkey. Operation Inherent Resolve has been categorized as an anti-terrorism military action by the Turkish government. The YPG and the PKK both deny having any connection to one another despite sharing the same political ideology. It has been estimated that around 137,000 people have become displaced after fleeing Afrin.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Qasioun News Agency [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons