SYRIA: Intense infighting among Turkish-backed groups leave two children dead and uncover dozens of women being held captive

AFRIN, Syria – The city of Afrin, occupied by Turkey and its proxies in the Syrian National Army (SNA) since early 2018, witnessed intense in-fighting between the factions of Ahrar al-Sham and Firqat al-Hamza following a recent attempt to rob a shop owner on Thursday night.

Although clashes between factions of the SNA are a common occurrence, the nature and scale of most recent fighting are exceptional. The fighting has caused several casualties on both sides. Several civilians, including two children, were killed and others were left injured.

Citing local sources, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the clashes followed an attempt by a member of Firqat al-Hamza to force a shop owner, to give him several items on credit. The shop owner, who had moved to Afrin from Eastern Ghouta, refused, and the Firqat al-Hamza fighter shot and killed the shop owner and his son.

Reportedly, the items totaled 300 Syrian Pounds (SYP), roughly .18 USD at current black-market exchange rates.

The resulting clashes caused widespread chaos and damages. Bodies were seen laying in the street and at least one fire was started.

One Firqat al-Hamza headquarters was taken over by Ahrar al-Sham, the 1st Division, and Al-Sham Army. Another was burnt to the ground and several others were besieged.


Despite Firqat al-Hamza arresting the man at the center of the clashes, the fighting continued for hours.

The fighting took the lives of a number of fighters from Ahrar al-Sham and Firqat al-Hamza, and led to the deaths of at least three civilians, two of them children. Many other civilians, including three women, were wounded during the clashes and indiscriminate shooting.

The clashes took a turn when it was discovered that Firqat al-Hamza was keeping dozens of women prisoner.

SOHR reported that during the takeover of one of the group’s headquarters in Afrin, it was discovered that dozens of women, some without clothes, were being held prisoner inside the headquarters.

People in the region demanded the immediate expulsion of Firqat al-Hamza from the region by Turkish authorities and for those responsible to be held accountable.

They demanded a clarification why there were naked women in Al-Hamza prisons. The statement confirmed the presence of dozens of women inside the prison.

Former residents displaced from Afrin, and some still inside, have repeatedly complained that women, especially non-Arab women, are subjected to harassment, rape, and disappearance at the hands of the SNA. Despite the calls for attention to grave human rights abuses, the international community has taken no action.