Syria’s northern city of Afrin is considered another source of funding for Turkish-backed armed opposition groups who dominate city’s properties and shops.
Since Turkey and Turkish-backed groups launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 21, 2018, resulting in their control of the Kurdish-majority region, there have been widespread accusations of war crimes, including intentional ethnic cleansing.
After Turkey occupied Afrin, it settled thousands of Syrian Arabs there who been displaced from other areas in the country during offensives conducted by the Syrian government.
With thousands of Kurds from the city remain displaced from their homes, the demography of Afrin has been substantially altered by Turkey and its affiliated armed groups.
In a recent Pentagon Inspector General (IG) report covering the first quarter of 2020, the US Department of State said it is concerned about reports that Turkish-backed groups “may have engaged in violations of the law of armed conflict in northeast Syria.”
A new monthly report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for June detailed large-scale rights abuses in areas under Turkish control, such as Afrin.
Turkish-backed forces and the Turkish military took vast amounts of territory in northern Syria during Operation Euphrates Shield (August 2016 – March 2017) and Operation Olive Branch (January – March 2018) to attempt to prevent Syrian Kurds from creating an autonomous region.
As a result of these operations and agreements with Russia and Syria, Turkey now controls a large contiguous area from Jarabulus to Idleb.
According to the report, a substantial amount of looted property is believed to have been sold in marketplaces in Azaz.
Many civilians seeking to return to their homes have found them occupied by fighters and their families, who have refused to vacate them and return them to their rightful owners.
This prompted the residents of the area to leave, fearing the increase in the ambitions of these factions, so that they would not have to pay royalties for staying in their homes.
Most of the residents of Afrin were subjected to displacement during the invasion of Afrin by the Turkish army and the armed factions affiliated with it in March 2018.
Most fled towards the northern countryside of Aleppo or the Autonomous Administration areas in North and East Syria (AANES) to escape the violations of the multiple factions against them.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.