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Erdogan-backed militias in northern Syria

Islamists are torturing Kurds in Afrin (Press Release)

Expelled by Erdogan and his Islamists - Refugees from Afrin are waiting for a return to their homeland. Image: K. Sido

According to reports, Jihadist militias are torturing Kurdish prisoners in the Syrian-Kurdish region of Afrin. The Islamists are supported by Turkey and tolerated by the NATO alliance. Meanwhile, the Syrian and Russian military are attacking militia positions in the neighboring Syrian province of Idlib, forcing more and more civilians to leave the region.

"There are international rumors about a possible informal agreement between Turkish President Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Putin," stated Kamal Sido, Middle East expert of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), after his visit to the region. Apparently, the Russian and Syrian military can attack the positions of the Islamists in Idlib – while Erdogan and his jihadist allies have leeway in fighting the Kurds in Afrin and in the north of Aleppo. "An agreement like this would explain Turkey's obvious restraint to react to the Russian and Syrian attacks on Idlib," Sido suggested.

Despite the critical security situation, Kamal Sido paid a visit to the north of Syria in mid-April, in order to investigate the situation of the Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, and Alevis. He reported that the people are living in fear of new attacks by "Islamic State" and Turkey. "Apparently, Turkey and the Islamist militias are aiming to destabilize the Kurdish-controlled areas," the Middle East expert explained. "The German government and the NATO alliance must no longer remain silent on Erdogan's destructive politics. The war has brought so much suffering and has forced so many people to leave their homes – the power struggle must finally come to an end!"

A Kurd from the village of Mirka in the Mabata district north of Afrin, which is currently controlled by Turkey, recently reported being tortured. He stated that he had returned to his village after the end of the fighting in March 2018, where he was arrested by armed members of the "Sultan Suleyman Shah Brigade". He was taken to the prison of Qarmitliq in Shaykh al Hadid district (Shiye), to the west of Afrin. There, he was handcuffed for several days, brutally beaten and tortured with electric batons. Also, his fingernails were torn off.

Turkey and its Islamists allies have been occupying the Kurdish region of Afrin since March 2018. Approximately 300,000 people were displaced, and hundreds were killed. At least 1,000 Kurds are kept detained. Officially, the Turkish president is backed by NATO.

Header image: Kamal Sido