Syrian militiamen were pictured looting Kurdish businesses in Afrin after taking control of the city in March: File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Turkish government is offering compensation to the families of Syrian fighters killed during the fight for Afrin, according to a Reuters report.
"It does not compare to what they sacrificed but, to the best of our abilities, it's about honoring them," Lieutenant Abdallah Halawa, commander of the Hamza Brigade rebels, told Reuters on Thursday, adding that Turkey is the last remaining supporter of the Syrian revolution.
Families of militiamen killed in action are being offered passports, housing, and cash – 60,000 Turkish lira (over $9,100) for families and between 15,000 and 30,000 lira ($2,300 – 4,600) for injured fighters.
"We were promised citizenship and a house on Turkish soil," Maamoun Shaaban, whose 19-year-old son was killed in the fighting, told Reuters. "The Turkish brothers have spared no effort to help us."
Turkish officials have not commented on the reported scheme.
Some 621 members of the Syrian militia forces, including 83 Turkish soldiers, and 1,575 Kurdish YPG fighters have been killed in Afrin, according to figures from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Turkey launched its Operation Olive Branch on the Kurdish enclave in northwestern Afrin on January 20 and declared full control of the region two months later.
An estimated 134,000 people are still displaced from their homes, according to the United Nations.
According to multiple reports, Turkey and its Syrian proxies are operating a policy of demographic change in Afrin by renaming streets and public places, replacing Kurdish words and cultural references with Syrian opposition slogans and Turkish language.
Turkish-backed rebel groups are also accused of committing serious human rights abuses against civilians in Afrin, Amnesty International reported last month.
The human rights monitor found evidence of arbitrary detentions for ransom, enforced disappearances, property confiscations, and looting, mostly committed by Syrian groups armed and equipped by Ankara.
Displaced people have been prevented from returning to their homes, while those who manage to return often find their property occupied by rebel factions or by displaced Arab families from Eastern Ghouta and Homs, the report said.
The YPG continue a guerilla-style campaign against the Syrian militias and Turkish forces.
The Syrian regime has repeatedly demanded Turkish forces withdraw from Afrin.