06/11/2020

MFS Spokesperson Hanna: We call on the international community to prevent Turkish aggression and restore control of occupied areas to their rightful inhabitants

HASAKAH, Syria — Spokesperson for the Syriac Military Council (MFS) Aram Hanna told SyriacPress that the Tel Tamr frontline has been witnessing continuous tensions in recent days and the build-up of Turkish military assets. Several new military points have established in the vicinity by Turkish forces along the M4 highway and near Abu Rasayn (Zarkan).

Violations of the ceasefires signed between Turkey and the U.S. and Russia are ongoing and civilian areas continue to be targeted with heavy weapons, said Hanna.

Turkish occupation forces have conducted near daily shelling of military and civilian areas just outside their control in Tel Abyad, Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn), Ayn Issa, Shahba, and Mabbug (Manbij) in a clear violation of ceasefire agreements signed with the U.S. and Russia.

According to researcher Amy Austin Holmes, Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) have violated the ceasefire agreement signed in late October 2019 over 800 times.

“The confrontations taking place in the Turkish-occupied areas are pushing the region into a state of instability and insecurity,” stated Hanna. “The violations have led to the displacement of a large number of civilians.”

The increased Turkish presence in the occupied areas of Tel Abyad and Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) comes at a time of decreased Turkish presence in Edleb (Idlib). Hanna hinted at his suspicions of a possible deal between Turkey and Russia to swap territory in Edleb for parts of North and East Syria.

Last week, Turkey evacuated another of its military posts in Edleb surround by Syrian regime and Russian forces since early this year.

According sources in Edleb, trucks arrived at the Turkish observation point in Sher Maghar, north of Hemto (Hama), to prepare for the evacuation process. Turkish forces withdrawing from Sher Maghar will be redeployed to a new military location established in the village of Qoqfin, in the area controlled by the SNA.

The Turkish military point in Morek, and several others, were dismantled and evacuated in mid-October.

Hanna called on the international community to prevent further Turkish aggression and to provide the necessary support to restore control of the areas occupied by Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) to their rightful inhabitants.

Displaced Civilians

Tens of thousands of the civilians displaced from Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) by the Turkish-led invasion are currently living in tents in Washokani Camp and Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) Camp, both established by Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria that governs the region.

In statements made to SyriacPress, the Director of Washokani Camp for the Internally Displaced Persons, Fayrouz Rashi, indicated that, due to a lack of international support, conditions in the camp are difficult.


Aerial view of Washokani Camp for people displaced from Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) in North and East Syria.

The number of people residing in the camp now exceeds 12,200 from 1,990 families, according to Rashi. With only 1,620 tents available, hundreds of families are forced to share living space.

With winter approaching, the camp administration is doing all they can to keep the residents of the camp safe from the elements. A task made all the more difficult by the lack of international support, said Rashi.

In mid-October, a U.S. delegation visited Washokani for the first time a year after its initial construction and pledged their support for the camp. Likewise, international humanitarian organizations have promised support. So far, no assistance has been provided.

Despite the hardship and lack of resources, the camp administration does its best to ensure that the lives of the camps residents, especially children, progress. Rashi added that there are three schools in the camp serving 1,200 students. The administration of the camp has ensured that students are instructed in their mother tongue, as is required by the DAA.

Turkish Invasion and Occupation

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.