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Iran Press TV

Turkish-backed militants rob commuters, loot properties in northern Syria: SANA

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 20 September 2020 5:48 PM

Turkish-backed Takfiri militants have blackmailed and forcibly snatched cash from commuters in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah as they continue to commit various crimes against local populations.

Official news agency SANA, citing local sources, reported on Sunday that the Turkish-affiliated armed groups cut roads and set up temporary checkpoints to disrupt commuters who were heading to the town of Ra’s al-Ayn in the troubled province.

They stopped vehicles, motorbikes and passengers and impose fine, snatched precious items and received cash at gunpoint. The Turkish-backed mercenaries threatened to kill or arrest those who refrain from paying money.

In recent months, fierce clashes have also frequently broken out among Turkish-backed militants in Hasakah province following dispute over the distribution of stolen objects and occupation of local people’s houses.

Earlier this week, a panel of United Nations war crimes investigators called on Turkey to rein in allied militants in northern Syria, who may have committed a range of war crimes against civilians, including hostage-taking, rape and torture.

In a report covering the first half of the current year and published on Tuesday, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said militants of the so-called Syrian National Army, also known as the Free Syrian Army, detain civilians and transfer them to Turkey for prosecution, adding that such acts could amount to the war crime of unlawful deportation.

The panel warned that assassinations and rapes of civilians were on the rise in war-ravaged Syria.

The United Nations on Friday urged Turkey to launch an immediate and independent investigation into war crimes and other violations of international law committed in the northern part of Syria, which are under the control of Turkish occupation forces and allied militant groups.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the situation in those Turkish-held areas of Syria was grim, with violence and criminality rife.

Bachelet's UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said in a statement it had noted an “alarming pattern in recent months of grave violations,” having documented increased killings, kidnappings, unlawful transfers of people, seizures of land and properties and forcible evictions.

The victims include people perceived to be allied with opposing parties or as being critical of the actions of the Turkish-affiliated armed groups, her office added.

Ankara has been providing support to militants operating to topple the Damascus government since early 2011.

Last year, Turkey seized control of the border town of Ras al-Ain after it launched a cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria with the help of its allied armed groups to push Kurdish militants affiliated with the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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