Joint statement: The international community should impose international sanctions on the Syrian opposition

(As with international sanctions imposed on the Syrian government to stop human rights violations in Syria: We demand similar international sanctions against the Syrian opposition)

On September 14, 2020, The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic issued a terrifying report on the results of the investigations that were conducted from January 11, 2020, to July 1, 2020, in Syria. Entitled (No Clean Hands Behind Front Fronts.The main headlines are the continued exposure of civilians to horrific violations and increasingly targeted by armed actors)

The report issued by the ICRC focuses its investigations on 538 interviews conducted in person in the region as well as from Geneva, where official documents, reports, photos, videos, and satellite images were collected and analyzed from multiple sources on grave violations committed to particular by the Syrian regime forces and the Syrian armed opposition. It is represented by the Syrian National Army according to its official name, and Hay’ at Tahrir al-Sham (Al-Qaeda Organization in the Levant or Jabhat al-Nusra before changing the name to avoid international sanctions), and it includes areas under their control in several areas, most notably Daraa, Idlib, Afrin, Ras al-Ain and others.

These violations mainly include indiscriminate attacks with intent to kill which, according to the aforementioned ICRC, amount to war crimes described, as well as violations of the right to life by extrajudicial killing, violations of systematic torture, including rape, and violations of the seizure of private property of civilians.
In conjunction with the spread of the global Corona epidemic and its effects, the pace of violence, human rights violations, and the recovery of ISIS is still escalating in Syria.

The organization’s signatories to this statement, while affirming that human rights violations are unjustified and are rejected and condemned by any party who committed them or against any Syrian individual or group simply because of their difference in national, religious, or political affiliation and because they are operating in a specific area of The Syrian geography that has been repeatedly marginalized by the international community due to international political calculations

With pressure from Turkey, it defines its interest in the violations mentioned in the report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic in the Afrin and Ras al-Ain regions as follows:

1- Violations by the Syrian armed opposition related to seizing civilian property in Afrin and Ras al-Ain and not allowing people fleeing the attacks launched by Turkey on the two areas to return to the two areas:
(If it were up to me, I would have killed all Kurds from one year old to 80 years old)
With these words, he addresses a leader in NSA of the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition, which has the support of the European Union and the United States of America, which is an excerpt from the testimony contained in the report of the International Commission of Inquiry, which confirms that this leader threatened Kurdish citizens. This threat resulted in the Kurdish citizen that he left his home and fled Outside Afrin. These words are an explicit call for ethnic genocide against the Kurdish people, and they amount to a war crime and a crime against humanity.

From Afrin and its villages, more than 250,000 civilians have fled the Olive Branch operation launched by Turkey on Afrin from the beginning of 2018 until today. By seizing them and housing Syrian citizens from other cities there, or converting them into military headquarters of the Syrian opposition
In a similar investigation by the ICRC, according to its report, civilians in Ras al-Ain area who fled the area following the Peace Spring operation launched by Turkey in October of 2019 were unable to return to their homes because the Syrian armed opposition confiscated their homes, seized their properties, and threatened many These civilians are not to return.

With the support of the Turkish government and a Turkish relief organization, the Syrian opposition, represented by a local council affiliated with it in the city, seized the house of a civilian in Ras al-Ain and turned it into an institute for teaching Islamic law and memorizing the Qur’an, as mentioned in the report.

According to the report, civilian property, home furniture, and the contents and goods of commercial and industrial shops for civilians in the two areas were looted and sold for the benefit of the armed Syrian opposition fighters.

2- Violations by the Syrian armed opposition to kidnapping civilians and torture in Afrin and Ras al-Ain:
The report of the International Commission of Inquiry mentioned its extensive investigations that include the abduction of Kurdish civilians in the cities of Ras al-Ain and Afrin and their systematic torture to obtain money from their families for the benefit of the leaders of the armed Syrian opposition or forcing them to leave the two areas.

3- The arrest, torture, and threat of rape by the Syrian armed opposition (sponsored by Turkish officials) of Kurdish children and women:
The ICRC report contained its proven investigations into the Syrian opposition’s kidnapping and torture of Kurdish children on charges of links to the Democratic Autonomous Administration
Her investigation also mentioned the arrest of a Kurdish woman in Ras al-Ain and the threat of rape and beating her on the head in the presence of Turkish military and civilian officials.
The report indicated that the committee is currently investigating reports that at least 49 Kurdish and Yazidi women have been detained in Serekaneh / Ras al-Ain and Afrin by the armed Syrian opposition.

4- Violations of the armed Syrian opposition against the Syrian Yazidi component:
The report indicated that Syrian armed opposition forces arrested civilians in undeclared locations. On May 29, video footage widely circulated in the media showed members of the 22nd Division (Hamza Brigade) during the detention of 11 women, including a Yazidi woman and three women. Kurdish women and a baby, as the committee confirmed that some women have been arrested by the Syrian armed opposition forces since 2018, and their current location is still unknown.

The committee’s report also confirmed that NSA forces arrested other women belonging to the Yazidi religious minority, as these women were invited to convert to Islam during interrogation.

The report also mentioned serious concerns about the return of ISIS, which was represented by the escape of its fighters detained by SDF, riots in prisons, and armed attacks on the Syrian government forces and SDF, which foretells the organization’s continuing attempts to restore its terrorist force.

The report contained widespread and systematic violations that the commission concluded as gross violations of human rights that amount to the described war crimes.

The signatory organizations condemn these gross human rights violations in the regions of Ras al-Ain and Afrin and confirm the reports of our human rights organizations operating in the region over the past two years since Turkey launched its unjustified war against northeastern Syria, they welcome the commission’s impartiality, independence, and report, and affirm that the violations committed by the opposition With Turkish support, the Syrian regime parallels what the Syrian regime has committed against the Syrian people and their components.

While the signatory organizations condemn these violations, they remind the international community, especially the European Union and the United States of America, who pledged to protect civilians in the two regions mentioned in the report after the military operations launched by Turkey with the participation of the Syrian opposition and the international community’s pledges to prevent any demographic change in the two regions and to ensure the return Fleeing the mentioned military operations.

The signatory organizations condemn these gross human rights violations in the regions of Ras al-Ain and Afrin and confirm the reports of our human rights organizations operating in the region over the past two years since Turkey launched its unjustified war against northeastern Syria, they welcome the commission’s impartiality, independence, and report, and affirm that the violations committed by the opposition With Turkish support, the Syrian regime parallels what the Syrian regime has committed against the Syrian people and their components.

While the signatory organizations condemn these violations, they remind the international community, especially the European Union and the United States of America, who pledged to protect civilians in the two regions mentioned in the report after the military operations launched by Turkey with the participation of the Syrian opposition and the international community’s pledges to prevent any demographic change in the two regions and to ensure the return Fleeing the mentioned military operations.

While the signatory organizations support the sanctions imposed on the Syrian government and their tightening, either through the European Union declaration containing the extension of the sanctions imposed on the Syrian government or through the Caesar Act issued by the United States government to deter the Syrian government from human rights violations and crimes and pressure the Syrian government to comply with the solution. According to the Geneva decisions and Resolution 2254, the signatory organizations call on the international community to fulfill their pledges through similar measures towards Turkey and the Syrian opposition to stop the violations committed, which we expect will continue if the international community does not move, and we call for the following:

1- Pressuring Turkey as the occupying power of the two aforementioned areas to stop all violations by its military forces and the Syrian opposition forces supported by them and impose economic and political sanctions on the Turkish government
2- Stopping all forms of political and financial support to the Syrian opposition represented by the Syrian National Coalition for the Forces of the Revolution and the Syrian Opposition as the political wing of the Syrian armed opposition that commits grave violations of human rights, whether by closing its offices in European capitals funded by those countries or
3- Imposing international sanctions, including confiscation of financial assets and a travel ban to the countries of the European Union and America, on leading figures in the Syrian opposition, whether political or military-backed by Turkey, which support military actions in the Afrin and Ras al-Ain regions, just as the Syrian government has imposed similar sanctions on its leaders
4- Including the Syrian armed opposition factions accused of committing grave human rights violations that amount to war crimes, according to the report of the International Investigation Commission, to the international list of terrorist organizations and ensuring the implementation of international law to combat terrorism against them.
5- Ensuring the arrest of all Syrian opposition fighters who committed, supervised, or encouraged the commission of human rights crimes and brought them to fair trials following universal jurisdiction in the countries that operate this system or from the countries that are associated with it.
6- Providing urgent humanitarian aid to the camps of people fleeing from the two mentioned areas, whose population is estimated at more than 400,000 civilians in al-Shahba area in the countryside of Aleppo and Hasaka governorate, especially in light of the escalation of the spread of the Corona epidemic.
7- The use of Bish Khabur border crossing for humanitarian purposes and the arrival of UN humanitarian aid instead of Yarubiyah crossing, through which Russia and the Syrian government prevented humanitarian aid from arriving
8- Supporting the work of civil society organizations working in northeastern Syria, similar to the rest of Syria, to promote and implement human rights and provide humanitarian aid to the citizens of northeastern Syria
9- Take concrete steps to address the issue of ISIS detainees held by SDF, by conducting fair international trials with international judicial teams, whether in northeastern Syria or northern Iraq and Iraq in general.
10- To stop the Turkish political pressures towards the Kurds of Syria by taking measures to ensure the participation of the Syrian Kurds, the democratic autonomous administration of northeastern Syria, and all its national and religious components in the future of Syria and the international negotiations on Syria as Syrians like the rest of the Syrian components

The organization’s signatories to this statement and the appeal hope the response of the international community and the implementation of its moral and legal obligations towards the affected and deprived in the aftermath of this bloody Syrian conflict, hoping that the international community will continue to provide all forms of support and humanitarian assistance to all Syrians, regardless of their religious, national and political affiliations.

Signed organizations in alphabetical order:

  • Adel Center For Human Rights
  • Aata for Development Organization
  • Ashna for Development Organization
  • Aso Network
  • ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies
  • Cudy Association for Development and Relief
  • Dan Relief and Development
  • Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights FFHR-Birati
  • Khunav association for Relief and Development
  • Kurdish Committee for Human Rights-Rased
  • Mitan center to revive civil society
  • Nabd Team
  • Omid center for revive civil society
  • Peace Leaders Network
  • Silav center for civil Activities
  • Shilan association for relief and development
  • Sonaa Alamal
  • Syrian Women Council
  • Violations Documentation Center in Northern Syria