Feb 17 2019

Turkey-backed rebels continue to abuse civilians in Syria's Afrin

Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants raided an old couple's house and tortured them in northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin which has been under control of the jihadist factions since March 2018, Iraqi Kurdish news network Rudaw reported.

Ömer Arus, an 85-year-old Kurdish man, told Rudaw television that FSA members assaulted him and his 86-year-old wife. The jihadist group members bound and beat them, and looted their belongings, the old man said.

“As soon as they broke in, they attacked us and laid us down, tying up our hands and legs,” he said in footage seen by Rudaw. “They took all the money we had amounting to $450 as well as 25,000 Syrian pounds.”

Turkish forces and its ally FSA groups occupied pre-dominantly Kurdish Afrin in mid-March 2018 after intense fighting with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which had controlled the city since 2012. 

Thousands of Kurds forced to leave their homes and have not been able to return. 

A January report by Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said Turkish-backed rebels rule the city despite all violations and forced mass displacement after "41 weeks in a row", "287 days of violations", and displacement of more than 350,000 inhabitants.

Reporting extensively on the human rights abuses in Afrin, Human Rights Watch documented that Syrian armed groups are looting and destroying civilian property in Afrin and surrounding villages, exacerbating the plight of civilians.