YPG/PKK’s human rights violations in Syria's Tal Abyad

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Editor : Tevfik Sayraç

Arbitrary practices of YPG/PKK terrorists forced some 50,000 people to leave Tal Abyad region since mid-2015

YPG/PKK’s human rights violations in Syria's Tal Abyad

The YPG/PKK terrorist group’s human rights violations in northern Syria forced at least 50,000 people to flee the Tal Abyad town and its surrounding villages since mid-2015, according to the town’s local council.

Remarks made by Tal Abyad local council came in the wake of Turkey Operation Peace Spring.

Adjacent to the Turkish border, Syria's northern town of Tal Abyad town center was cleared of YPG/PKK terrorists on Sunday as part of Turkey's Operation Peace Spring which aims to eliminate terrorists east of the Euphrates river.

The operation was launched on Oct. 9 in order to secure Turkey’s borders, to aid the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mudar al-Asaad, spokesman for Syria's Tribal Council, told Anadolu Agency that the northern region suffered a lot by terrorism carried out by YPG/PKK as well as the presence of Daesh, Iran-backed terrorist groups, Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Al-Assad on Wednesday said "around 2 million civilians were forced to migrate from the region east of the Euphrates River because of YPG/PKK arbitrary practices", since late 2011 when the terrorist group started to take control of northern areas of the country.

The displaced included some "250,000 Kurds in northern Syria who sought refuge in Iraq and Turkey," al-Asaad said.

He stressed that clearing the northern region of YPG/PKK is necessary for civilians to return to their homes.

A report released by the Kurd Watch in January 2016 revealed human rights violations by YPG/PKK in Tal Abyad that predominantly has Arab population and is also a home to Turkmen and Kurds -- who formed around 15 percent of its population.

Kurd Watch is an independent online portal, as part of a project of the European Center for Kurdish Studies based in Germany’s capital Berlin.

It reports on human rights violations against the Kurdish population in Syria.

The report -- titled Ethnic Cleansing in Tall Abyad? Characteristics of YPG and PYD Rule in the Areas Captured from the IS [Daesh] -- reported human rights violations perpetrated by YPG/PKK, including expulsion of local population and destroying villages and arbitrary arrests.

Forced displacement, destruction of villages

The report cited a former member of the local coordinating committee -- a network of local opposition groups -- in Tal Abyad over YPG/PKK's destruction of villages in the vicinity of Tal Abyad.

Yusuf, whose last name was not mentioned due to security reasons, spoke about human rights violations in Bir Ashiq, a village located some 4 kilometers (around 2.5 miles) east of Tal Abyad.

According to the report, Yusuf said the majority of the villagers had fled the village by June 2015 due to the battles. By the end of October 2015, YPG/PKK "destroyed the village and forcibly displace the remaining residents."

Recalling that YPG/PKK had claimed that Daesh fighters were hiding in the village, Yusuf said: "This justification however had only been an excuse."

The town which is administratively a part of Raqqah province has witnessed drastic changes over the past few years due to the turmoil that has rocked Syria since 2011.

In 2013, Daesh terrorist group had taken control of Tal Abyad before losing it on June 15, 2015, when the U.S.-backed YPG/PKK terrorist group and the Free Syrian army (FSA) allied with YPG/PKK at that time to defeat Daesh.

Following the seizure of the town, YPG/PKK raised their flag over Tal Abyad after lowering Daesh’s flag -- a scene that was visible from Turkey's Akcakale customs area.

Yusuf asserted that there were no clashes at the time and 100 displaced families were seeking a return to their homes in the village, however YPG/PKK prevented them from returning saying "the location was strategically important."

The YPG/PKK "opened fire and stormed apartments. Most people were forcibly displaced and the rest arrested," Yusuf said, adding that the group also occupied and looted homes, carried out abductions and arbitrary arrests.

The YPG/PKK added Tal Abyad to the canton of Jazira and Kobani (Ayn Al-Arab) and forced the migration of Sunni Arabs -- who form the majority of the population -- and Turkmen either by threatening them, taking them as captives or ransacking their homes.

The report cited Mahmoud, an Arab civilian from Raqqah city and human rights activist, as saying that around 5,900 people had been held by YPG/PKK including his friend Ibrahim Ash-Sahin who was held while going to visit relatives near Tal Abyad in June 2015.

According to Mahmoud, detention periods varied from a few hours to months in the group's prisons -- including ones in Tal Abyad, Kobani (Ayn Al-Arab) and Ras Al-Ayn (Sari Kani) in Al-Hasakah province.

He stressed that YPG/PKK imprisoned people over charges of affiliation with Daesh and some for insulting PKK's leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Mahmoud stated that the terrorist group carried out "targeted abductions of political opponents" including Syrian opposition affiliates as well as students and youths.

Citing an Arab prisoner in Tal Abyad, Mahmoud said inmates were subjected to torture in prisons.

Tal Abyad under control of YPG/PKK

The report also noted that YPG/PKK established some bodies that only represented those affiliated to the group and accused other locals of having ties with Daesh.

The terrorist group was plundering homes of civilians and forcing Syrian Arabs living in the suburbs of Tal Abyad to migrate.

In July 2015, the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces -- legitimate representative of Syrian opposition -- said that YPG forces were following relocation policies against Turkmen and Arabs living in northern Syria.

The group's practices prompted the need to create a safe zone in the northern region of the war-weary Syria.

Amnesty International in its report on Oct. 13 said that YPG forces in northern Syria had committed war crimes during its battles with Daesh. The human rights body said that thousands of people had been deliberately forced to leave their homes and entire villages were razed to the ground by YPG fighters.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist YPG/PKK.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The PYD/YPG is its Syrian offshoot.

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