Turkish backed groups illegally cut down over 650 thousand trees in Northern Syria
Turkey-backed Syrian groups have cut down over 650,000 trees in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Northern Syria since 2018, the majority of which were said to be olive trees, a report said on Thursday.
Local civil activists and human rights groups claimed that the tree choppers mainly belonged to an islamist faction called Sultan Murad division, an armed rebel group created around a Syrian Turkmen identity and heavily supported by Turkey.
The armed groups usually sell the trees in a market they established further south in Idlib, and some other factions control the timber trade in border areas, local activists have previously warned.
The Afrin Human Rights Association said more than 650 thousand trees were cut down around Maydanki lake in the region.
A video footage showing the illegal trade went viral on Twitter
A video circulating online shows the extreme level of deforestation on the banks of Maydanki Lake in Turkish-occupied Afrin. SNA militias have cut down & burned dozens of hectares of forested area for charcoal. A before & after picture (below) shows the extent of the devastation. pic.twitter.com/YXiVFQJwrf— Rojava Information Center (@RojavaIC) September 1, 2022
Turkey and Turkish backed Syrian armed groups have occupied Afrin since 2018 after a cross-border military incursion called “Operation Olive Branch.” Ankara considers the Kurdish forces in Syria as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought against Turkey for the last four decades.