Turkey’s occupation of Kurdish Afrin targets women, minorities

Turkey, a NATO member, is accused of systematic human rights abuses throughout areas it runs in northern Syria

Shocking scenes similar to ISIS crimes against women were found in the Kurdish area of Afrin in Syria last week. Video captured the moment that women were liberated after being held in a secret prison by a Turkish-backed Syrian group in Afrin. The area has been occupied by Turkey since Ankara’s invasion in January 2018. Turkish-backed Syrian extremist groups have committed widespread human rights abuses, including ethnic cleansing, attacks on the Yazidi minority, and now the kidnapping of women and children.

Turkey, a NATO member, has been accused of systematic human rights abuses throughout areas it runs in northern Syria. It has backed groups labelled “undisciplined” and “jihadi mercenaries” by a US official, which have committed ethnic cleansing in Afrin and also areas near Tel Abyad, which Turkey invaded in October 2019.

More than 300,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been displaced in ethnic cleansing reminiscent of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Turkey has systematically re-settled mostly Arab refugees in Kurdish homes, hoping to stoke tensions between Kurds and Arabs while encouraging the rebel groups it backs to embrace extremist religious ideology that labels Kurds “atheists” and “infidels”.

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This is the same language and methodology that ISIS used in its campaign in 2014. Tens of thousands of ISIS members came to Syria through Turkey and many hundreds of them then fled back to Turkey when the US-led coalition and partner forces defeated ISIS in 2019. The jihadist group’s leader was found by the US to be hiding within a few kilometers of Turkey in Idlib which Ankara controls.

Read more: jpost