AYN ISSA and RISH AYNO, Syria — Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) forces expanded the scope of their artillery bombardment around Ayn Issa, north of Raqqa in North and East Syria, on Thursday following another failed infiltration attempt.
Turkish artillery fire wounded two members of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) of North and East Syria and five civilians. Of the five wounded civilians, three had to have limbs amputated, according to hospital staff in Ayn Issa.
According to informed sources, the shelling included the villages of Bir Arab, Al-Hurya, Salib Quran, Jarn, Qabr Hassan, Sofian, and Khirbet Bakr.
Turkish and SNA shelling also targeted Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) positions around the villages of Al-Assadiya and Khadrawi near Abu Rasyn east of occupied Rish Ayno (Rasl al-Ayn). The shelling came after the supposed defection of eight members of the SNA to the SDF near Al-Assadiya.
Along the Rish Ayno frontline, three SNA fighters were killed by SDF forces in an infiltration action in the village of Al-Ghashqa, near the town of Al-Alia. SNA groups then raided Rihania village in search of “wanted persons” and confiscated the mobile phones of civilians on the suspicion that they were communicating with the SDF. Residents of the area reportedly fear reprisals for the deaths of the three SNA fighters killed in the infiltration.
In October 2019, Turkey and its proxies in the Syrian National Army (SNA), a coalition of militias, several of them with extremist ideologies, formed and funded by Turkey, invaded the cities of Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) and Tel Abyad in North and East Syria, displacing hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Since the invasion, dozens of Turkish military bases have been established in those areas. The bases are guarded by the SNA who are equipped with armored vehicles and heavy weapons. Additionally, a large number of Turkish commandos are reportedly stationed in the region.
Demographic change and the Turkification of the area continue, with residents being forced to learn the Turkish language, the names of public facilities being replaced with Turkish ones and the hoisting of the Turkish flag over them.
Other human rights abuses continue as well. Turkish-backed factions continue to burn agricultural crops, kidnap civilians for ransom, extort business and families for large sums of money, and engage in torture, murder, and sexual assault.
In September, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a 25-page report calling on Turkey to put an end to wide-spread war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by its proxy forces, the Syrian National Army (SNA), in the areas under its occupation.
According to the report, there is significant evidence that the Turkish-backed SNA has committed, and continue to commit torture, murder, displacement, rape, and the looting of property.