25/11/2020

Syrian Opposition Council leaders meet with Turkish-backed militias, including head of group responsible for murder of politician Hevrin Khalaf

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — Several Syrian human rights associations and organizations have condemned visits of high-ranking delegations from the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to Turkish-occupied regions in northern Syria.

In a statement, the associations and organizations specifically condemned a recent meeting in Azaz between Opposition Council officials and leaders of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA), including the head of the group responsible for the murder of Kurdish politician and Co-Chair of the Future Syria Party, Hevrin Khalaf.

An Opposition Coalition delegation headed by its president, Nasr al-Hariri, and a member of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS), Abdullah Kado, were pictured meeting with at the meeting Ahmad Hassan al-Hayes (Hatem Abu Shakra), leader of Ahrar al-Sharqiya, members of which murdered Hevrin Khalaf and her two bodyguards in October 2019 near a village along the M4 highway, north of Al-Raqqa city.

No one has been held accountable for Khalaf’s murder, despite it being videotaped and the perpetrators identified.

Despite mountains of evidence and widespread international condemnation from the U.N. and other high-level bodies, the Opposition Council denies systemic crimes are being committed in areas under SNA control.

Turkish-backed factions continue to 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.