Turkey denies journalists, human rights observers access to Afrin, YPG spokesman claims

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Syrian woman Raifa, wife of Mehdi Haymur, cooks in Afrin, on May 26, 2018. Displaced from their homes in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, families sought refuge in abandoned houses in the traditionally Kurdish town of Afrin. Afrin itself had been emptied of its residents just weeks earlier, after a brutal Turkish-led offensive forced tens of thousands to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Nazeer AL-KHATIB

Turkey continues to deny journalists and human rights observers access to Afrin to document violations, Nuri Mahmud, spokesperson for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), claimed in a statement on Saturday, the Kurdistan24 news website reported.

According to Mahmud, since Turkey took control of the former Kurdish-held region, it has “not allowed any media, legal institutions or human rights organizations to enter the city and document the crimes and daily atrocities” of Turkish-backed groups against civilians in Afrin.

The spokesperson added that the information which has been obtained from Afrin “proves that these forces trained and funded by Turkey are engaged in a planned ethnic cleansing campaign against our people.”

“The same crimes are also being committed on a daily basis in other Turkish-occupied areas in Syria such as Azaz, Bab, Jarabulus and Idlib,” he added.

In August Amnesty International said the Turkish forces that occupy Afrin were giving allied Syrian armed groups free rein to commit serious human rights abuses against civilians.

A report in June by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also detailed large-scale rights abuses in Afrin.

“Civilians now living in areas under the control of Turkish forces and affiliated armed groups continue to face hardships, which in some instances may amount to violations of international humanitarian law and violations or abuses of international human rights law,” the report said.

Since Turkey occupied Afrin in March 2018, almost no human rights organizations or journalists have visited the region.

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