Turkish-backed factions have through November been continuing logging trees illegally in the countryside around Afrin north of Aleppo, renowned for its olive growing, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Monday.
Factions of the Turkish-backed Malakshah and Al-Sham corps cut down approximately 150 olive trees belonging to three residents of the villages of Basufan and Sinka in the rural Shirawa and Sharan districts of Afrin, SOHR said.
Footage published on social media shows hundred-year-old olive trees felled by in Afrin, and according to SOHR, the armed groups transported these trees to Afrin city markets for sale as firewood.
Deforestation in the area is also linked to Turkey’s efforts to build settlements for Arabs and Turkmens who moved to Afrin, while thousands of local Kurds found themselves displaced after the earlier Turkish operation.
The SOHR has documented 17 incidents of fruit-bearing trees being cut down by factions of the Turkish-backed “National Army” in November, while over 2,224 olive trees were cut down in several areas in the villages and districts of Afrin.
After Turkey and its allied Syrian militias launched “Operation Olive Branch” to dislodge Kurdish fighters affiliated with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and took control of Afrin in 2018, Turkish-backed factions have been repeatedly accused of systematically removing vegetation cover and earning money from it by selling it as firewood.