Displaced people of Afrin rally in protest against occupiers

Displaced people of Afrin rally in protest against occupiers
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Hundereds of thousands of Kurdish residents of the city of Afrin have been displaced and farm lands seized after the seizure of the city by the Turkish military in 2018.

Thousands of people rallied on Friday in the city of Tell Rifaat in Northern Syria in protest against the continuing Turkish occupation in the Kurdish-majority city of Afrin, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

The protest was held on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Turkish invasion, and the demonstrators - most of them displaced people of Afrin - carried photos of the victims of the military incursion, and chanted, "Afrin is ours and will remain ours,"

The Turkish military campaign - ironically dubbed "Operation Olive Branch" - was launched on 20 January 2018, and concluded on 24 March with the seizure of Afrin, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths caused by indiscriminate shelling.

Days after the seizure of the city, a video was released showing Turkish-backed fighters abusing the mutilated body of a woman Kurdish fighter.

300,000 Kurdish residents of the city were displaced in an apparent attempt at demographic change by occupying forces, and at least 75% of the olive groves were seized by armed factions operating under the command of the Turkish military, according to a SOHR report dated September 2018.

United Nations war crimes investigators said in mid September 2020 that "in Afrin, Ras al Ain and the surrounding areas, the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army may have committed the war crimes of hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture and rape."

Afrin was effectively handed over to Al Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in mid October 2022 with the support of some Turkish-backed factions. HTS reportedly withdrew later, leaving only a police force in the city.