HRW: Civilians abused in ‘Safe Zones’ by Turkish-backed armed groups in Syria

Factions of the Free Syrian Army, a non-state armed group backed by Turkey in northeast Syria, have summarily executed civilians and failed to account for aid workers who disappeared while working in the ‘safe zone,’ Human Rights Watch said.

“Executing individuals, pillaging property, and blocking displaced people from returning to their homes is damning evidence of why Turkey’s proposed ‘safe zones’ will not be safe,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Contrary to Turkey’s narrative that their operation will establish a safe zone, the groups they are using to administer the territory are themselves committing abuses against civilians and discriminating on ethnic grounds.”

HRW also documented the execution of a Kurdish political activist, Hevrin Khalaf, and researched what happened to three Kurdish Red Crescent aid workers who disappeared in FSA-controlled territory, including the apparent unlawful killing of at least one of them.