SYRIA: Turkey builds commercial border crossing in Rish Ayno on land of displaced Armenian

RISH AYNO, Syria — The Turkish occupation forces in Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) have opened a commercial border crossing to move goods between Turkey and the occupied territories of northern Syria. Most of the land on which the new border crossing was constructed belong to an Armenian citizen, Ara Kishishian, who fled the Turkish invasion in 2019 along with the vast majority of the city’s inhabitants.

Forced from Rish Ayno once before in 2012 due to attacks on the city by Islamist groups Jabhat Ghuraba al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, Kishishian returned to his property once it was made safe by the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) only to be forced to flee again by Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA).

The illegal appropriation of Kishishian’s property is only the latest in a systemic campaign to permanently displace the city’s residents.

In June, the governor of Turkey’s Urfa region opened two Quranic institutes alongside Turkish clerics in the northern Syrian city of Rish Ayno (Rasl al-Ayn), currently under the control of Turkish and Turkish-backed forces.

According to a social media post by local journalist, Muhyedin Isso, displaced from Rish Ayno, one of the houses converted into a Quranic lesson institute belonged to his family who were forced to flee their city and leave their home after Turkey’s invasion in October last year.

Criminality in areas under Turkish population is rampant, especially against women and girls. Cases of kidnapping, imprisonment, rapesexual trafficking, and murder have become commonplace.

The Turkish invasion of Afrin Region, launched 20 January 2018, saw the mass displacement of the local population — estimated at anywhere between 150,000 and 300,000 people at the time — and widespread criminality in what used to be the safest region in a country ripped apart by civil war.