Kidnapping, demographic change, and desecration of holy places still commonplace in Turkish occupied Syria

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — Turkish forces and their proxies continue to violate the human rights of civilians in the areas under their occupation.

In the occupied northwestern Syrian region of Afrin, under the control of Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) — a coalition of militias, several of them with extremist ideologies, formed and funded by Turkey — raided the village of Bremeja and abducted 10 citizens, took them to Afrin city, and demanded that their relatives pay a ransom of 210,000 Syrian Pounds for each person to release them.

The campaign to ethnically cleanse and demographically change the occupied areas of Kurds, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious groups, in addition to the removal of political opponents, is also continuing. Recently, SNA factions began constructing a settlement adjacent to the majority Yezidi village of Baflion, in Shara district, to settle their families.

The Yezidi’s of Baflion have been displaced by the SNA after targeted persecution by the SNA.

The factions involved in the construction of the settlement cut down trees in the area and seized the land of a number of displaced Yezidi families.

In Raju district, a Yezidi shrine was destroyed by members of the SNA while they were digging for treasures and artifacts.

The looting of Yezidi property, the confiscation of Yezidi land, and the desecration of Yezidi holy sites is commonplace in the areas under Turkish control.

In May of this year, Yezidi headstones were destroyed out of religious hatred and graves exhumed in search of gold in the village of Jan Tamr outside Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn).

In June, 30 of the 200 homes in the Yezidi village of Daoudia village, also in the Rish Ayno countryside, were bulldozed by Turkish forces to construct a military base. Turkey has refused to allow the displaced Yezidi inhabitants to return to the village, even to bury their dead.

“Two months ago, the Turkish forces prevented us from burying a deceased person in his hometown, on the pretext that it was a military zone,” some villagers stated to Ezdina Foundation, a human rights group.