Kurdish detainees were tortured in prisons run by Turkish-backed armed opposition factions, also known as the Syrian National Army (SNA), in Afrin, northwest Syria, North Press reported.
Local watchdogs, Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) and Human Rights in Afrin talked to 40 victims about the conditions of their arrests and the detention centres they were held at between 2021 and 2022, said the Syrian news agency.
The victims, predominantly Kurds indigenous to the region, or ethnic minority Arabs and Yazidis, included women, children, and the elderly. They were quoted as describing, “arbitrary arrests, cruel torture, and acts of sexual violence” in the testimonials.
Although victims were often kidnapped blindfolded, a range of Turkish-backed factions active in the region, Turkish intelligence, and the military police were identified organisations behind the “arrests”, in accounts collected by the local Human Rights agencies. Moreover, North Press also reported that many victims were released only after paying large sums of money.
Afrin was occupied by Turkish backed forces in 2018, and nearly 300,000 of the Kurdish population displaced. Since then, systematic crimes against Kurds and ethnic minorities have been documented by both local human rights watchdogs and international agencies, including UN committees.