Innocent civilians in Syria continue to suffer from two months of Turkish aggression on north-eastern Syria, accompanied by crimes against humanity and other crimes amounting to “war crimes.” Human rights organisations have condemned these crimes committed by Turkish forces and their pro-militias, ranging from ruthless bombing of civilians to brutal executions, kidnapping, robbery, and looting.
Following a US-Turkish agreement on a five-day ceasefire reached on October 17th, Moscow and Ankara signed an agreement for a joint patrol on the Syrian-Turkish border on October 22nd, and the start of patrols of Russian military police and Syrian forces, whose mission is to secure the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces.
Under the Moscow-Ankara agreement, Turkey was given the right to control an alleged "safe zone" between the border towns of Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn. Since they were given this right, Turkish forces and their militias have continued to commit serious crimes against civilians, although it is considered a "safe zone," which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always claimed he wants for the refugees and displaced persons to return to it.
On October 9th, Turkish forces launched an offensive on north-eastern Syria against the Kurds, killing dozens of civilians, injuring hundreds, and displacing thousands. They committed human rights abuses and crimes that international organisations described as "war crimes."
Regarding the latest of these crimes, 11 civilians, including eight children, were killed on Monday, December 2nd by Turkish shelling on the Kurdish-controlled town of Tall Rifat in Aleppo governorate in northern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
As proof of the brutality, the Observatory said that the Turkish bombardment occurred near a school as the students exited, adding that the dead were displaced from the neighbouring Afrin area, AFP reported. The shelling wounded 21 others, according to the Observatory.
In this regard, the Observatory confirmed that Turkish forces and their affiliated militias committed “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” in areas of Afrin, Tell Abyad, and Ras al-Ayn, Turkish news portal Ahval reported.
It pointed out that elements of Isis, which was defeated by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), became leaders of some of these factions loyal to Ankara.
As for the displacement, the Observatory confirmed the continued displacement of Kurds in Ras al-Ayn, in addition, Ankara-backed militias are taking their homes and stealing their contents.
According to the Observatory, the Syrian civilians continue to flee to refugee camps in Raqqah, Al Hasakah, and in the northern countryside of Aleppo, where there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds who have been forced to flee as a result of the Turkish aggression.
In the same context, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Turkey of turning a blind eye to abuses committed by its militias in the alleged “safe zone” in north-eastern Syria, which it considered to be “war crimes.”
A report released on Wednesday, November 27th by HRW accused the Turkish-backed militias of carrying out extrajudicial executions, preventing the return of displaced Kurdish families, looting their property, and illegally occupying their homes in areas under Turkey's occupation.
Although the Turkish military offensive in north-eastern Syria has been widely criticised on all levels, the international community continues to ignore such abuses and the rights of the Syrian people, as well as encroach on Syrian sovereignty.
According to Ahval, HRW said it has interviewed ten individuals, including a doctor and three relatives of the victims, to document the violations.
Families spread across eastern Syria confirmed that Turkey's militias had carried out summary executions; beaten, kidnapped, or detained their relatives; and looted their homes and property.
A report published by the Independent on Saturday, November 30th revealed that the brutal killings carried out by Ankara-backed militias were not hidden, but were proudly documented by the militias. The report included a video circulated by the Turkish-backed militias showing their executions as well as mutilations and widespread looting.
According to the Independent, other videos showed similar displays of brutality directed against Kurds and other minorities, forcing thousands to flee their homes. Many are now living in refugee camps in north-eastern Syria and fear they will not be able to return home.
Kurds displaced from northern Syria have spoken of a dramatic demographic change in their cities since Turkey seized them in a military offensive on October 9th, amounting to ethnic cleansing, the newspaper reported.
“No one can go back there now, it’s impossible,” Mohamed Amin, a 37-year-old Kurdish man who fled with his family from Ras al-Ayn in the early days of the Turkish aggression, told the Independent.
"We’ve seen the videos. They are shooting Kurdish people where they find them,” he added.
On the other hand, SDF commander Mazloum Abdi said in a tweet on Monday, December 2nd that the forces had reached an agreement with the Russian armed forces in Syria.
Kobani's Russian-language tweet announced a "high level of mutual understanding and agreement on the deployment of Russian forces in Amuda, Tel Tamr, and Ayn Issa” that was reached at a meeting with Alexander Chaiko, commander of Russia's armed forces in Syria.