No party has “clean hands”. In a strengthening report published on Tuesday by the UN International Independent Commission on Syria, investigators condemn systematic violations committed by all actors in the Syrian conflict, including a militia supported by Turkey in the Kurdish areas.
Investigators from the UN International Independent Commission on Syria released a report on the human rights situation in the country. The document, published on Tuesday, September 15, deals with violations committed by all actors in the conflict throughout Yrian territory.
The overwhelming conclusions of the investigations, carried out between 11 January and 1 July 2020, point to “outbreaks of violence” and “persistent human rights violations throughout Syria.” For UN investigators, “the suffering civilians are a constant and personal feature of this crisis.
Offenses involving cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment “inflicted by all parties” and “perpetuating a routine practice of arbitrary detention, forced disappearances and torture and death in custody”.
And for good reason, the document concerns a number of violations committed by President Basharal-Assad’s government forces, by the Syrian National Army (ANS) supported by Turkey, by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and by the jihadists from Hay’at Tahrir al-Shamet from others. parties to the conflict.
“There are no clean hands in this conflict,” said Commission President Paulo Pinheiro as he presented the report.
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Kurdish women who are victims of rape and sexual violence
During its investigations, the Commission focused in particular on the situation of the Kurdish regions in northern Syria and specifically on the atrocities committed by the ANS, suspected of having committed war crimes such as hostage-taking, torture and rape.
According to the report, Kurdish women in the Afrin and Ras el-Aïn regions have been threatened by members of the Syrian National Army brigades since 2019, “which has created a general climate of fear that has the effect of being confined to their homes.” collected by the Commission “women and girls have also been detained by Syrian National Army fighters and subjected to rape and sexual violence”.
During the period studied, several cases of sexual violence against women and men were reported in a detention center in Afrin, in northern Syria. “On two occasions, Syrian National Army military police searched for apparently humiliating male prisoners and extracted confessions from them and instilled fear in them, forcing male prisoners to witness the rape of a minor,” the investigators revealed.
And to continue: “The Commission has received further information that TalAbia’s families have chosen not to return home, for fear of rape and sexual violence committed by members of the Syrian National Army. At least 30 women have been reported killed. Rape in February alone “.
Members of this Turkish army’s extra force are also accused of looting and destroying cultural property, including religious and archeological sites, in violation of international humanitarian law.
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Turkey recalled its responsibility
In its report, the Commission reminded the Turkish authorities of their responsibilities. “In areas under effective control of Turkey, the latter are responsible for ensuring public order and security as far as possible, and for granting women and children special protection.” It also specifies that Turkey remains bound by the applicable obligations under treaties concerns human rights with regard to all individuals living in those territories.
“In this regard, the Commission notes the allegations that the Turkish forces were aware of the looting and seizure of civilian property and that they were present in detention centers administered by the Syrian National Army where detainees were frequently detained, especially during interrogations involving torture.”
The Commission warns, “if it was revealed that members of armed groups acted under the effective control and supervision of the Turkish forces, the violations committed by these actors would lead to the criminal responsibility of the commanders of these forces who had or should have known of crime, or who have not taken all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or punish their mission ‘.
The Turkish offensive launched on October 9, 2019, made possible by the withdrawal of US forces deployed on the border with Syria, had driven the Kurdish forces, on the front lines against Islamic State jihadists, to abandon several cities that they had administered until then.
Ankara, which rejects any hint of Kurdish autonomy outside its border with Syria, has set up a “security zone” in Kurdish areas under ANS control.