“The U.N. report named two rebel groups formerly backed by the United States, the Sultan Murad Division and the Hamza Division, as some of the worst torturers in Afrin.
Yet more indication that the U.S. has no business being involved in Syria and is not on the side of the good and right there.
Meanwhile, the militia man’s statement about Yezidis being infidels underscores yet again the Islamic motivations underlying this conflict, which Western establishment analysts are determined to ignore. That willful ignorance leads them again and again to misunderstand the problem and prescribe remedies that only make matters worse.
“Turkish troops present at Afrin torture sites, U.N. says,” by Matthew Petti, Ahval News, March 4, 2021 (thanks to Henry):
Turkish officials were present during the torture of prisoners at Syrian rebel bases, several survivors have told a United Nations commission.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry of the Syrian Arab Republic released a draft report into detention and disappearances on Monday.
The report includes several damning findings over the conduct of rebel groups occupying Afrin, a historically Kurdish region now controlled by Turkey.
A Turkish invasion of Afrin in 2018 expelled the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and handed the territory over to an alliance of militias known as the Syrian National Army (SNA). Since then, the SNA has been accused of ethnic cleansing, mass looting, and human trafficking.
Hundreds of Afrin’s civilians have been reported kidnapped or disappeared after rebel militias began holding locals for ransom, a practice which gradually evolved into a systematic operation to extort Afrin’s Kurdish population, according to the U.N. report.
Survivors say their captors dished out “frequent and severe beatings” while demanding detainees confess links to Kurdish political factions. Rebel groups also sexually assaulted and abused women in their detention, kidnapping some and marrying them off by force.
The SNA has particularly targeted Afrin’s Yezidi religious minority. Yezidi shrines have been looted, and Yezidi families subjected to “exorbitant” ransoms, according to Wilson Center fellow Amy Austin Holmes.
“Even if they survive, this is a way to force demographic change, to force those few remaining Yezidis who still live in Afrin to leave,” Holmes told the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in June 2020. “This is a way to engage in ethnic cleansing and demographic change without actually killing people.”
One Yezidi woman told U.N. investigators that rebels beat her with cables while threatening her life. “Yezidis are infidels. We will kick you out from your land. You will die here,” a militia member allegedly told the woman.
Turkish troops were frequently present at rebel detention centers and attended torture sessions, according to the testimony of survivors cited in the U.N. report.
The Turkish Embassy in Washington described the U.N. allegations against Turkish forces as “baseless”.
“The Turkish Armed Forces fully respect the international humanitarian law at all times,” the embassy said in a statement to Ahval. “The Turkish Armed Forces did not get involved, directly or indirectly, in any incident of violation in Syria.”…
On the other side of the front lines, the U.N. report named two rebel groups formerly backed by the United States, the Sultan Murad Division and the Hamza Division, as some of the worst torturers in Afrin.
The Sultan Murad Division received anti-tank weapons as part of a covert CIA program to fight the Syrian government. While the Hamza Division was vetted, trained and armed by the United States as part of a now defunct Department of Defense program to forge a rebel army against the Islamic State. Both groups later joined the SNA….
“Unless Turkey withdraws from the areas that it occupied, including Ras al-Ayn, Tal Abyad, and Afrin, it is unlikely that the original inhabitants – regardless of their religion, regardless of their ethnicity – will ever return to their homes,” Holmes said during her commission testimony.
“It is unlikely that the Yezidis and Christians who lived there for hundreds of years will ever be able to return home unless Turkey withdraws.”