AYN ISSA, Syria — Turkish forces and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) north of Ayn Issa in North and East Syria intensified their artillery bombardment of the villages just outside the town, also targeting the grain silos in Al-Mushairefa village.
Turkey continues to threaten the strategic stock of wheat in the area in an attempt to undermine the regions food security. Over the summer, SNA forces intentionally and routinely caused fires in the wheat fields along the M4 highway.
Meanwhile, Russian forces, locally positioned to enforce a ceasefire signed in October 2019, sit by, doing nothing.
The most recent bombardment resulted in the destruction of large quantities of grain. The silos themselves are damaged from shrapnel, allowing rain to leak in and compromising the grain.
The wheat stored in the silos of Ayn Issa supply six bakeries in the area, in addition to providing fodder for livestock.
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.