For fifteen continuous days, the family of Suleiman Ahmed, the seventy years old displaced person from the city of Ras al-Ain (Northeastern Syria), did not calm down, waiting for the arrival of its eldest son, Sardar, who ventured to return home after the Turkish army and Syrian opposition factions occupied his city within the “Spring of Peace” process launched by Ankara against Kurdish fighters last October.
Sardar did not retrurn i. And here is his mother, Shaha, despite the weakness, sadness, and inability to leave the bed, narrates to Raseef 22 the details of her son’s death about a month ago at the hands of who are called, Abu Musa’ab al-Dairi, a fighter within “Ahrar al-Sharqyia”
Shaha says : ” On the number of his father’s phone, we received an audio message via WhatsApp from a Turkish number in which someone informs us that he killed my son and kept his body to sell it to us” .
Close to the bereaved mother, the father continues the story about what happened, adding: “I asked the killers to send a picture of Sardar’s body in the hope that it would not be him, but I knew him even though they separated his head from his body“.
He continues”His body was stained in blood and mutilated, but I knew him from his blue shirt, jeans, and his shoes that he was wearing when we left.” He added by explaining, “Through a voice call, the killer introduced himself to me as Abu Musab, a fighter within Ahrar al-Sharqiya, and offered me to buy my son’s body for $ 7,000 USD, or that he will burn it”.
Bodies for sale via WhatsApp
Upon reviewing the audio recordings that Abu Musab sent to Sardar’s family, it appears that he keeps six bodies of girls and young people at a petrol station called “Hamdo” at the entrance to the city of Ras Al-Ain, and as he claims that after searching the mobile phones of his victims, he tries to contact their families after sending their photos to them and threatening them that he would burn the bodies if they refuse to buy them.
Sardar’s father complains that his 35 years old son is the father of two daughters 9 years old and 6 years-old who are still waiting for his return from Ras Al-Ain as he was inspecting the house to bring winter clothes for the family.
Anxiety over the loss of other family members prompted Suleimon to cancel the idea of buying his son’s body. He says: “I do not have $ 7,000 after being forced to leave our homes and properties in the city with the intensification of battles and aerial bombardment, and even if I have the required amount I will not venture to send his brother to receive his body, they may seize the money and kill my other son and offer his remains to me for sale again”.
Sardar’s body is no exception
Despite the scarcity of information received about the number of victims and those whose bodies were displayed for sale to their relatives, media activist, Rana Al-Ahmadi, who comes from the city of Hasakeh, revealed to Raseef 22 that she documented three cases of offering to sell the bodies of a twenty-year-old girl and two men from Selouk, Tal Abyad and Ras Al-Ain.
Al-Ahmadi says: “Many people were killed due to the violent military and air offensive carried out by Turkey and they were not able to escape, some of them returned to inspect their home, but were killed by the Syrian factions. Through following the shelters for the displaced in camps, schools and inside the cities of Raqqa, Hasakeh, Qamishli and others, we trusted three cases. The families of the victims said : The killers demanded payments ranging from 5 to 8 thousand dollars“.
According to Al-Ahmadi, the information reported about displaced people and activists indicates “an unfortunate outbreak of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, rape and mutilation of bodies, some of them belonging to women. Turkey has turned the safe area that it has set up in Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad into an inferno by displacing its indigenous population and committing war crimes against the rest who remained there.
It is noteworthy that the Syrian National Army, which is affiliated with “Ahrar al-Sharqiya”, had called on very specific occasions not to publish pictures of the bodies or to mutilate them, after the video of mutilating of the body of the Kurdish fighter, Barin, was spread – although SNA denied his responsibility about such crime.
On another occasion, when the video of the fighter of the Women’s Protection Units ,Cicek Kobani, spread, SNA apologized under international pressure and said it was individual behavior. As for the rumors about the sale of the bodies, there is no comment from SNA on the matter.
For his part, journalist writer Mustafa Abdi monitored cases in which the militants send video clips of the bodies of the victims to the families of the victims, and they refuse to hand over the bodies to their families only after receiving money from them.
Mustafa Abdi, a journalist, and is also the director of a local monitoring group interested in documenting violations in Syria, said: “We obtained video clips showing opposition fighters celebrating in front of the corpses of women, children and military personnel”
In a phone call to Raseef 22, Abdi said that a Kurdish journalist named Widad Fateh, a father of two children and a documentary filmmaker, had been killed in an airstrike in Ras al-Ain, his family became aware of the matter after the opposition gunmen sent a video to his mother via WhatsApp showing the body of Widdad mutilated.
“Safe zone is not safe“
In a report published on November 27, Human Rights Watch notes violations against civilians and extrajudicial executions in the safe area.
Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East division at HRW, described the proposed safe area from Turkey as “unsafe, as armed groups that Turkey uses to manage the safe area continue to commit violations against civilians and such groups do discrimination against people on ethnic grounds, executions, looting of citizens’ property, and preventing them from returning to their homes“.
Field executions and mutilation
“The Syrian armed groups, backed by Turkey, violated the four Geneva Conventions, their Additional Protocols and International Humanitarian Law governing civilian life,” says the joint head of the Human Rights Office in the city of Amouda, Walida Hassan.
Hassan explains that the Peace Documentation Office of the operation of ” Spring of Peace” documented files on body mutilation, especially for women, and boast about this through video clips and the armed groups offer sales of civilian corpses to extort their families in exchange for money.
She notes that the office has uploaded war crime documentation files committed by armed groups to UN, the International Court of Justice and European organizations concerned with human rights.
“The crimes and violations committed by the Turkish state and the factions loyal to it amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity that aim to demographic change in the demographic structure through massacres, ethnic genocide, and forced displacement,” the human rights official says.
The UN human rights office sees Ankara responsible for “the arbitrary executions carried out against the Kurds by Syrian opposition factions loyal to Turkey and demanded an immediate, impartial and independent investigation and arresting of the perpetrators”.
A spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Robert Colville, said that video clips showed the executions of three detained Kurds carried out by fighters of the ” Ahrar al-Sharqia” group linked to Turkey on the highway between Hasakeh and Manbij on October 12, blaming Turkey for the responsibility.
In turn, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed that a fighter in the Syriac Military Council Forces affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces was killed while three others were captured during the battles in the countryside of Tel Tamir with the factions loyal to Turkey, and that the latter demanded the military council for $ 40,000 in exchange for release the corpse and the three prisoners.
Despite warnings by human rights groups, domestic and international to Turkey that the military factions continue to commit violations against the people, no steps have been taken to stop them or hold them accountable, amid accusations by the people of the region to the Turkish authorities of tacitly agreeing to these practices.
Lamar Arkandi’s journalistic investigation of the violations and abuses committed by the Turkish state and its related factions in northern and eastern Syria.