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UN: Turkey could be held responsible for summary executions in Syria

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Turkey could be deemed responsible for summary executions by an affiliated armed group of captured Kurdish fighters and a politician, acts that may amount to war crimes, Al Jazeera reported, citing a United Nations spokesman.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN human rights office, said video footage appeared to show executions of three Kurdish captives carried out by Ahrar al-Sharqiya fighters, affiliated with Turkey, on the highway between Hassakeh and Manbij on Oct. 12.

The UN had received reports that Hevrin Khalaf, a Kurdish politician, was executed on the same highway by the same group on the same day, Colville said.

“Turkey could be deemed responsible as a state for violations by their affiliated groups as long as Turkey exercises effective control of these groups or the operations in the course of which those violations occurred,” he told a news briefing, adding that UN war crimes investigators would follow up on all incidents.

“We urge Turkish authorities immediately to launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation and to apprehend those responsible, some of whom should be easily identifiable from the video footage they themselves shared on social media,” Colville said.

Turkish-backed proxies leading a ground offensive on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria summarily executed nine civilians including Khalaf, a human rights monitor claimed, according to The Guardian.

The civilians were shot dead on a highway after being taken from their cars by Turkish-backed militias who had crossed the border as the Turkish push into Syria deepened. The killings were captured on camera phones, and the gruesome scenes have raised the specter of ethnic bloodletting emerging five days into the Turkish offensive. Ankara’s proxies are Syrian Arabs from elsewhere in the country, and their foes are Kurds with long ties to the territory.

Khalaf, 35, was “taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions,” the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement. “This is a clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians.”

Turkey and its proxies began an offensive on Wednesday to push back the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the SDF, from its border.

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