UN warns of 'war crimes' in Turkish-occupied areas in northern Syria
The United Nations has urged Turkey to launch an immediate and independent investigation into war crimes and other violations of international law committed in the northern part of Syria, which is under the control of Turkish occupation forces and allied militant groups.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Friday that the situation in those areas of Syria was grim, with violence and criminality rife.
Bachelet's UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said in a statement it had noted an “alarming pattern in recent months of grave violations,” having documented increased killings, kidnappings, unlawful transfers of people, seizures of land and properties and forcible evictions.
The victims include people perceived to be allied with opposing parties or as being critical of the actions of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, her office added.
Earlier this week, a panel of United Nations war crimes investigators called on Turkey to rein in allied militants in northern Syria, who may have committed a range of war crimes against civilians, including hostage-taking, rape and torture.
In a report covering the first half of the current year and published on Tuesday, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said militants of the so-called Syrian National Army, also known as the Free Syrian Army, detain civilians and transfer them to Turkey for prosecution, adding that such acts could amount to the war crime of unlawful deportation.
The panel warned that assassinations and rapes of civilians were on the rise in war-ravaged Syria.