HRW warns about implications of a potential Turkish offensive into Syria
HRW (Human Rights Watch) published a question-and-answer report on a potential Turkish incursion into Northern Syria. The report answers 12 questions about Turkey’s legal obligations, concerns about refugees and internally displaced people, and the implications for detainees allegedly having ties to ISIS.
Turkey has conducted three military operations into Syria since 2016 and HRW states that these operations included human rights abuses. Since May 2022, President Erdogan has threatened the fourth potential military operation into northeast Syria to target the cities under Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control.
He has long stated that he aims to create a 30-kilometer-deep “safe zone” in the Syrian border to counter threats from the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The second objective of Turkey is to relocate Syrian refugees to safe zones. HRW notes that Turkey should allow civilians to flee from the areas of the military operation.
If Turkey occupies any areas as a result of the operation, Turkish authorities must ensure that their officials do not loot and they should not arbitrarily detain, mistreat or abuse anyone. Turkey should also stop unlawfully deporting Syrian refugees to northern Syria.
The HRW suspects the actual safety of the proclaimed “safe zones” by noting the human rights abuses committed by factions of the Syrian National Army (SNA).
Currently, 60,000 alleged ISIS members and their families are detained in northern Syria. HRW reports that they are in overcrowded, degrading, and life-threatening conditions in locked camps and prisons, and if Turkey starts another military operation, their situation could be even worse.