The Turkish Army in the centre of Afrin in 2018

Original article by Steve Sweeney, November 7, 2019

TURKEY’S illegal invasion and occupation of Afrin, northern Syria, last year has created a human rights catastrophe that needs to be urgently addressed by the international community, a new report concluded today.

Research by the Rojava Information Centre (RIC) documented instances of kidnap, murder, rape and extrajudicial killings by many of the Turkish-backed jihadists accused of similar crimes in the current military invasion.

According to the report, over 300,000 civilians were forced from their homes as Turkish air strikes hit more than 100 locations, including the local hospital.

The ground invasion was conducted with jihadists from the Free Syrian Army, who, according to a United Nations report published in August, were responsible for the “war crimes of hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture … and pillage.”

Once a haven for people of different cultures and backgrounds, the area’s inhabitants must now observe a strict Islamist code imposed by the occupying jihadists, the UN Human Rights Council said.

“Violations include the imposition of strict dress codes for women and girls,” the council’s report found.

Factions including the Sultan Murad Brigade and Jaysj al-Islam, which currently control Afrin, inflicted sexual violence on women, reportedly conducting an Isis-style trade in young women for forced marriage.

“Daily, the women of Afrin face rape, the forcible marriage of young girls aged 11 or 12,” said Hamida Umma Mohammed of the Afrin women’s movement. “Several days ago, a young woman from my region killed herself.

“She shot herself rather than be raped … Women from Afrin, Jarablus, Azaz, Bab and Idlib are being brought to Azaz and sold.”

Speaking from the Serdem refugee camp, university lecturer and former Afrin resident Hassan Hassan branded Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “the Hitler of Anatolia.”

The RIC warned that the same fate was now facing the towns of Sere Kaniye and Tel Abyad and called on the international community to act.

“Here, everyone has a dream, a dream of returning to their farms and their homes in Afrin,” Mr Hassan said.