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SYRIA: Turkey Implicated in War Crimes, Systematically Targeting Medical Personnel, Aid Workers

Khaled Iskef
21st Century Wire

Last month, a gruesome scene unfolded which shocked the public, with reports of Turkish troops and their loyal factions kidnapping 3 people, including two women from an ambulance crew heading to evacuate the injured in Tal Abiad on October 13, before eventually beheading them. The crew included the victims “Suzkin Afrin” and “Midia Khalil.” According to Kurdish websites, the Turkish forces and their loyal factions have been committing violations since the Peace Spring Operation started and the assassination of Hevrin Khalaf is not the first of its kind. Turkish-backed militants had since publicly threatened to behead any “infidel Kurd” they captured in northeastern Syria.

The violence continued this past week, where Turkish forces have reportedly been actively targeting medical staff and aid workers. Over the past week, cameras have documented how Turkish forces (including the Free Syrian Army) targeting Tal Abiad Hospital and its medical staff inside by fire on October 28th, which is the only hospital treating the wounded and injured and had been raided and attacked for a whole week by the Turkish troops and their loyal factions. A medical source revealed that the Turkish forces targeted the medical staff on purpose because of the significance of their testimonies in documenting the violations of the Turkish troops in their latest military operation, especially using the internationally prohibited white phosphorus bombs that doctors at the hospitals of Ras Al-Ein discovered.

The source confirmed that medical staff and ambulance cars had been directly targeted several times by fire or shelling of Turkish fighters and their loyal factions in Tal Abiad and Ras Al-Ein in a way that resembles their previous attack on Afrin.

A member of the American field aid organization “Free Burma Rangers” was killed by the Turkish shelling on a group of the organization’s doctors in Tal Tamer countryside. The shelling wounded several people who were transferred to hospital. However, the shelling claimed the life of the Thai member, Zau Seng.

“When we were treating the wounded, they targeted us with mortar shells and they did not stop shelling us, even though our vehicle was carrying a Red Cross flag, but the shelling targeted us directly and one of our teammates, a Thai, was killed,” said an Iraqi coordinator named Mohammed who was injured during the attack.

He added, “This war in which lost the elderly, children and women as a result of indiscriminate shelling, and is an occupation.”


IMAGE: The chaotic scene with medics tending to the wounded at Teltemir (Source: ANHA)

These violations could fall under the umbrella of a long list of war crimes committed by Turkish troops and their loyal militant factions used in their military operations. A legal source informed that targeting hospitals and medical staff is a blatant violation to Geneva Convention, concerning war laws and the International humanitarian law, and added that Article 16 of Geneva Convention stipulates that the wounded, the sick, pregnant women and the elderly shall be respected and protected. Each party in the dispute shall facilitate searching for murders and wounded aiding the drowned and other endangered to protect them from maltreatment and theft. International laws prohibit targeting anyone who is not involved in fights, such as doctors and paramedics.

Turkey denies committing those crimes and violations against Syrian civilians. However, its acts have been documented and seen as “friendly fire” by pro-Turkey members themselves while bragging about committing crimes, such as the video which was circulated on social media networks and showed Turkish-backed factions, killing the Kurdish politician, Hefrin Khalaf and her attendants in cold blood, provoking the world opinion against the Turkish operation.

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