85 Syrian organizations sign letter of support for US sanctions against Turkish-backed groups and commanders

DARAMSUQ — A coalition comprising 85 Syrian organizations has expressed approval of the recent decision by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to impose sanctions on two Syrian armed groups and their leaders. The designated groups, the Suleiman Shah Brigade and Hamza Division, are accused of committing serious human rights violations against the Kurdish and Yezidi community in occupied Cafrin (Afrin), Syria. The violations range from abductions and arrests to extortion, rape, torture, and the unlawful seizure of property.

The organizations emphasized that over recent years, various armed groups aligned with the Syrian National Army (SNA) have consistently perpetrated wide-ranging human rights violations in areas under their control. These abuses have predominantly affected local communities in regions such as Cafrin, Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn / Serêkaniyê), and Tel Abyad (Girê Spî), which are under the direct control of Turkey. These actions have been substantiated by reputable Syrian and international organizations and corroborated by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic in its periodic reports.

Given the gravity of the situation, the signatory organizations called for an expansion of the sanctions to encompass other armed groups, their leaders, and associated entities that have been verified as involved in grave human rights violations. Furthermore, they urge relevant stakeholders to exert pressure on Turkey, which exercises control over these armed groups and functions as an occupying power, to fulfill its responsibilities in safeguarding civilians and upholding law and order.

The organizations called upon the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia to follow the US’s lead and take similar actions. These actions would advance legal proceedings against Syrian perpetrators living within their jurisdictions, contribute to documentation, accountability, and redress efforts initiated by international courts, and play a pivotal role in deterring future violators while ending a culture of impunity.