11 women were reported to have been kidnapped by armed groups in occupied Afrin in the month of August, the highest number of cases reported in any month this year. Five have allegedly been released, while the whereabouts of six are unknown.
Four of the women kidnapped this month were allegedly tortured in custody, and an earlier allegation of torture has been newly documented. Two women were reportedly murdered by their husbands.
On August 4th, a woman named Dalal Mustafa was reportedly kidnapped by an unknown armed group at an SNA checkpoint in Dêrbelûtê/Deir Ballout, along with members of her brother’s family, according to the Violations Documentation Center in Northeast Syria. A checkpoint is known to exist in the town, which borders HTS-controlled Idlib.
On August 8th, a 60-year-old woman named Fikret, the wife of Mohamed Alou Brimo, was reportedly kidnapped along with her husband and another elderly man, according to the Afrin Activists Network.
On August 15th, three women were allegedly kidnapped from the village of Hêçikê by Liwa al Waqqas: Malak Sobhi Jalabi, Zahida Khalil Sheikh Mustafa, and Maqbola Abdo Tana.
Earlier this month, three men from the same village were also reported kidnapped by Liwa al Waqqas. The armed group was reportedly responsible for killing Fatima Kanna, an elderly relative of the three men.
When Kanna was murdered, several members of her family were reportedly kidnapped and subsequently released—including a woman named Maqbola, identified at the time as the wife of Muhammad Sabri Tana. This could be the same individual as was reported kidnapped in the August 15th incident.
On either August 18th or August 19th, a girl named Salwa Ahmed was reportedly kidnapped by Jaish al Nukhba. Different reports of the incident made different claims about her age, but all sources reported that she is a minor.
The first report of the incident was published on August 20th by the Human Rights Organization in Afrin, which claimed that Ahmed was kidnapped on by an unidentified armed group on August 18th between Maabatli and Afrin, and taken to the village of Emara. They allege that she was released by August 20th, and that militia members involved in the incident had been arrested by the Military Police.
On August 22nd, Afrin Activists Network posted an alleged photo of Ahmed, and claimed that the armed group responsible for the incident was Jaish al Nukhba. They specifically implicated a member of the group named Khaled Zuhair. Their report also noted that there had been unusual security activity and conflicts between different elements of Turkish-backed forces in the area around Emara.
That same day, Afrin Post reported on the incident. They made a similar claim to the account published by the Human Rights Organization in Afrin, alleging that members of Jaish al Nukhba had been arrested and that Ahmed had been released after one or two days. They also alleged, however, that she had been kidnapped so that the group could send her to Libya. No other sources made this allegation.
On August 29th, the Human Rights Organization – Afrin claimed that Ahmed had been kidnapped because Zuhair intended to force her to marry him. They alleged that the Military Police found several dead bodies and large quantities of stolen money when they raided the village, which was controlled by Jaish al Nukhba.
While they claimed that Zuhair was among the members of Jaish al Nukhba who were arrested in the aftermath of the incident, the Violations Documentation Center in Northeast Syria claims that he has fled Syria to Turkey.
On August 20th, Farida Abdo was reportedly kidnapped from Çolaqa village by the Military Police, along with other civilians. According to the Human Rights Organization – Afrin, she was subsequently released on a ransom of 850 Turkish lira.
On August 24th, 2020, four women were reportedly kidnapped by the Military Police from the town of Kerzayhel, south of Afrin city: Yasmine Abdo, Siham Saeed Jafar, Khalida Kamal Jaafo and Mawlida Mustafa Jaafo.
Siham Saeed Jafar, Khalida Kamal Jaafo and Mawlida Mustafa Jaafo were reportedly released on ransom after one day, while Yasmine Abdo remains missing.
Allegations of Torture
According to the Human Rights Organization – Afrin, Yasmine Abdo, Siham Saeed Jafar, Khalida Kamal Jaafo and Mawlida Mustafa Jaafo were tortured after being kidnapped by the Military Police this month.
Azima Manan Rasho, a woman who was allegedly kidnapped earlier in 2020 from the village of Şêx Hûtka by Jaish al Nukhba, was reported to have been released by multiple sources this month. She had been kidnapped at least twice prior to this incident.
Both the Afrin Activists Network and the Human Rights Organization in Afrin alleged that she was tortured in custody. The Human Rights Organization in Afrin alleged that she has suffered from ongoing health issues since being released.
Murders of Women
Two women in Afrin were allegedly murdered by their husbands during the month of August.
On August 8th, claims that the body of an unidentified woman had been found in the Ashrafiyah neighborhood of Afrin city began to circulate.
On August 10th, Afrin Activists Network published images of the woman, identifying her as Istarvan Baker. They alleged that she had been murdered by her husband, identified as Abdulqadir Jamil Qarmaz.
On August 11th, Afrin Activists Network published photos showing the body of a woman that had been found near the village of Deir Sawwan. They identified her as Gule Khalil Farraj, and claimed that she had been murdered by her husband, identified as Sheikh Saleh.
Activist Shero Alo published a photo of a man alleged to be Sheikh Saleh on August 11th.
There has been no report claiming that either perpetrator was prosecuted. Sheikh Saleh has allegedly fled the area. The legal system in Turkish-occupied areas is based on Syrian law, with provisions that are perceived to violate Islamic law removed. Women have few protections from gender-based violence. The Syrian Islamic Council, an Istanbul-based body whose rulings are followed by some SNA groups, has ruled that there are cases wherein it is acceptable for a man to murder his female relatives, claiming that the crime is “an act of jealousy that is consistent with human instinct.”