NORTH AND EAST SYRIA / STOCKHOLM — During a video conference with officials from North and East Syria on Tuesday, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde condemned the Turkish aggression in the region and stated the Swedish government will do what it can to end the Turkish attacks and threats.
Linde spoke with Co-Chair of the Executive Council of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Elham Ahmad, Deputy Co-Chair of the Executive Council of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) Badran Jiya Kurd, Co-Chair of the DAA Foreign Relations Commission Dr. Abdul Karim Omar, and DAA representative in Scandinavia, Shiyar Ali.
During the meeting, views were exchanged regarding the general situation in Syria and the situation in DAA regions. Other topics discussed were the status of political negotiations in the country, the Kurdish–Kurdish dialogue, the situation of Islamic State detainees and their families in Al-Hol and Roj camps and the issue of their repatriation to their home countries.
Linde condemned the acts of aggression committed by Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) against the regions of North and East Syria, indicating that the Swedish government will work to end such attacks.
She also indicated that they are working on including the SDC and the DAA in the U.N.-led initiatives to resolve the political crisis in Syria and draft a new constitution.
The institutions of North and East Syria have not been allowed to participate in the discussions at the behest of Turkey.
Swedish Delegation Visits North and East Syria
Last month, as a part of a series of meetings that brought together a delegation from the Swedish Foreign Ministry and the institutions of the DAA, Sweden’s Special Envoy for Syria Per Örnéus met with members of the Executive Council of Gozarto (Jazira) Region of North and East Syria at the Council’s headquarters in Amuda.
Örnéus, accompanied by Foreign Ministry Advisor on Humanitarian Aid Thomas Markus and Advisor at the European Institute for Peace Aven Jitin, was received by Co-Chairs Nazira Goreya and Talat Younis, Deputy Co-Chair Ali al-Kaoud, and Adviser to the Co-Chairship Jehan Khalil.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed the situation in the region, particularly the negative effects of the Turkish occupation on the humanitarian situation in the region.
When asked about the meeting, Goreya (Syriac Union Party) explained that the visit of the Swedish Foreign Ministry delegation was a continuation of bilateral relations between Sweden and North and East Syria, noting that the delegation confirmed that the Government of Sweden would work to support the DAA in the international arena in addition to providing support to humanitarian organizations working in the region.
In related news, it was announced today that Swedish nationals being held in North and East Syria suspected of being members of the Islamic State will be put on trial in local courts starting in early 2021. Swedish legal observers will attend.
Cases against Swedish nationals in DAA custody were reportedly prepared over the summer.
Orphans and humanitarian cases will be repatriated back to Sweden.
Thousands of Syrians have been tried by the DAA judicial system, but officials have so far avoided trying foreign nationals without first coming to an agreement with the suspects nation of origin.
In October 2019, Turkey and its proxies in the 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.
Researcher Amy Austin Holmes, found that Turkey and the Turkish-backed SNA violated the ceasefire agreement signed in late October 2019 over 800 times as of October 2020.