VDC-NSY: Testimony of three women held captive by Turkish-backed Hamz Division in Cafrin documented

CAFRIN, Syria – According to the Violations Documentation Center in North Syria (VDC-NSY), the testimony of 3 of the 11 women kidnapped by Turkish-backed groups in occupied Cafrin (Afrin) and held in a secret prison in the Al-Mahmudiyah neighborhood has been documented.

The prison was located in the basement of the military headquarters of the leader of the Hamza Division — a member of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) — Sayf Abu Bakr.

After the prison was broken into by angry demonstrators from Eastern Ghouta, 11 women and two young children aged six months and one and a half years were discovered in the compound, as well as other detainees. Some of the women inside the prison were found naked.

If the prison had not been broken in to, it is unlikely that the fate of these women would have ever been known.

Abu Bakr is a notorious figure who cooperated with the Islamic State in the summer of 2013 and appears in a video released by the group at the time. While in control of Al-Bab city in northern Syria, he is accused of kidnapping, torturing, and killing hundreds of Syrians and of being involved in crimes against humanity.

He also enjoys strong relations with Turkish authorities. According to media reports, in April 2018, he attended a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In 2020, Abu Bakr recruited an estimated 500 Hamza Division members to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh at the behest of Turkey.