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In pictures: Afrin residents rebuild lives 15 days after Turkish takeover

By Rudaw 1/4/2018
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – As the city of Afrin enters its third week under Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) control, civilians who remained are trying to resume daily life. 

Fruit and vegetable vendors, butchers and barbers are beginning to reopen their businesses despite evidence of looting by Syrian proxy forces in the area and reports of intimidation. 

An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 civilians remain in Afrin city, according to UN figures. 

Civilians who escaped Afrin when Operation Olive Branch forces seized the city on March 18 have told a UK-based conflict monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, they are being prevented from returning to their homes.

Sources who spoke to the monitor claim a deliberate policy of demographic change is being implemented in Afrin to repopulate the town with non-Kurdish families.

The Observatory claims to have seen evidence of checkpoints on the roads leading in and out of the city of Afrin where civilians are being charged money.

Residents notified the Observatory that the looting of homes, businesses and public facilities by Olive Branch forces is still ongoing despite the Turkish military insisting it would not tolerate theft.

Other sources told the Observatory that those people who have remained in their homes frequently face arrest, insult and humiliation.

The Turkish government and its Syrian proxies are expected to announce a new administration to take over the affairs of the Kurdish city, Syrian opposition officials said.

Afrin civilians say it is not safe to return home and those who try become targets for Turkish-backed Syrian militias now controlling the canton, despite claims out of Ankara that civilians are now returning. 

Photos: Nazeer al-Khatib / AFP

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