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NEW REPORT: Evidence of Turkey’s War Crimes in Syria and ISIS Members Within its Ranks


Khaled Iskef
21st Century Wire

Turkish-backed factions under various names continue violating international laws and customs north Syria, especially in the region east of the Euphrates, and in Afrin and the Aleppo countryside.

All available reports confirm a rise in the number of civilian victims of the militant factions acting under the gaze of the Turkish military, a member of NATO.

It’s been roughly 44 days since the launch of Ankara’s cynically titled “Operation Peace Spring” being carried out east of Syria’s Euphrates River, and the number of civilians who have been displaced is steadily rising totaling approximately 300,000 people according to statements made by Kurdish officials, whereas the UN estimates are considerably lower, at around 180,000.

The violence which has ensued has been devastating to local populations in Syria. Apart from displacement, the Turkish-backed factions are now on record as committing different human rights violations ranging from torture, arrest, field beheadings, indiscriminate shelling, shelling of civilians homes, confiscation of people’s properties and real estate, using international-prohibited weapons, and intentionally targeting medical staff and journalists, all of which has certainly aggravated the already poor conditions marked by chaos and insecurity in across the region. Consequently, assassinations and explosions have appeared again in those same areas.

War Crime Documented

Publicly available data compiled here and here, from sources inside of Syria paint a shocking picture of rampant human rights violations and war crime committed under Turkish command.

After the Turkish troops entered the area east of the Euphrates, rates of violence and crimes committed by the Turkish-backed  militants has risen significantly – in Afrin, Azaz, al-Bab, and Jarablus west, and right across northeastern Syria. As of 11 Nov 2019, approximate totals include some 355 civilians, including 18 children were killed, of which some 12 people including women and children who were beheaded by these same militant under the command of direct Turkish government forces.

Additional reports reveal how these factions have also arrested 100 civilians including 12 who were severely tortured.

Turkish-backed factions under various names continue violating international laws and customs north Syria, especially in East Euphrates and Afrin in Aleppo countryside.

In Afrin alone, since the start of Operation Olive Branch in 2018, the Turkish-backed factions have kidnapped approximately 2,500 people, including women, children and elderly. The gunmen took control over houses and farmlands, cut down trees, and committed other violations against the civilians, all of which has claimed the lives of 1,413 people, with 54 killed under the administration of torture by Turkish-backed militants. The number of unlawful detainees has reached up to 5,678 people.

The total cost of human and material losses in northern Syria areas due to the Turkish military operations and the horrific acts of their loyal militant factions during the past two years alone is distressing:

  • 2,400 people were injured, including 295 children and 206 women during raids on their homes or being beaten by the gunmen.
  • 1,660 air raids as well as 800 operations of shelling with mortars and artillery against residential villages were documented.
  • In-fighting among the Turkish-backed factions reached up to 230 fights inside cities and towns.

It has been recorded that 445 Syrian refugees were shot to death by the Turkish border police while they were trying to cross the Syria-Turkey border, including 83 children and 56 women. Injuries from live fire or attacks has reached up to 416 people, including those who tried to cross the borders or the residents and locals in the villages and towns adjacent to the borders.

  • 1,492 houses attacked with some turned into prisons or military centers.
  • Approximately 95 houses and stores were burned.
  • 130 more houses were completely destroyed.
  • 1,400 graves were removed
  • 65 schools and service centers were turned into military headquarters to be used by the factions leaders.

NOTE: The Turkish-backed ‘Free Syrian Police‘ are in fact deputised by Al-Nusra Front (since rebranded as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham/HTS) and other terrorist groups who are controlling towns and villages in areas like Afrin, Syria, and like the White Helmets, this self-described ‘civil society’ cadre is supported and funded by UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a fact even documented by BBC and others.


Formerly US-backed “Free Syrian Army” is now an official Turkish regiment comprised of many known ISIS terrorists (Image Source: DW/El Halebi)

Amnesty International has confirmed that Turkey and their loyal factions have committed multiple “war crimes” during their military operations east of the Euphrates, and have conducted “gruesome executions,” and attacks against civilians, and described those acts as “shameful and sorrowful.”

According to reports, these violent acts include not only open and public threats of mass-beheadings, but also video evidence of actual beheadings have already been circulating widely online.

Gunmen from various factions participating in “Peace Spring” committed crimes, especially gunmen from Ahrar al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sharqyeh, al-Hamza, and al-Jabha al-Shamiya and other gunmen from the militant force formerly called the Free Syrian Army and now rebranded under the new name of the “Syrian National Army” which is the outcome of merging several factions.

Turkish acts and violations also included medical, political and media figures in a way that resembles those committed by ISIS such as what happened with Hevrin Khalaf and Amara Rinas, two Kurdish activists, with a video showing bearded militants repeating religious cries in front of the dead bodies of Kurdish fighters in the background scene, and with victims said to killed by groups like Ahrar Al-Harqiya.

Former ISIS Fighters – Now Under Turkish Command

The number of the fighters in the Turkish-backed factions includes some 50,000 gunmen, including numerous militants known to be among ISIS members before joining the pro-Ankara factions. A former ISIS fighter reported this very fact to the UK paper, The Independent, thus confirming that NATO member Turkey has been using the name of the now defunct Free Syrian Army as a carefully designed smokescreen in order “to conceal its use of jihadi mercenaries.”

This may also explain reports of these very same Turkish-backed forces reported to have deliberately released Islamic State detainees in Ain Issa Syria, Syria around 12 October, which was admitted by two US offificals.

So far, at least 76 members have already been documented by Arabic news sources of fighters said to belong to proscribed international terrorist organisations including ISIS and Al-Nusra Front.

Several regional Arab lauguage news sites including ANF News, Hawar News, and other sources, appear to have since confirm the following gunmen as original members of terrorist know organizations, and who are now are fighting under Turkish military command and ostensibly under the banner of NATO:

View the online dossier in English language format including individual profile summaries and data for 76 ISIS fighters at Counter Terrorism Research.

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Author Khaled Iskef is an independent researcher and journalist based in Syria. His work has appeared on a number of international media outlets including Al Mayadeen TV. See his archive here.

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