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Torturing Kurdish women deemed legal by Turkish-backed mercenaries in Syria, survivor says

TORTURING Kurdish women is deemed “halal” (lawful) by Turkish-backed jihadist groups in northern Syria, a survivor of one of the terrorists’ camps in Afrin said today.

Mercenaries from the Sultan Murad and Ahrar al-Sham brigades are accused of subjecting women to rape and brutal beatings while working in the so-called civil police force established after Turkey’s 2018 invasion of the peaceful north Syrian canton.

An eyewitness, identified only as Sara, gave details of her ordeal after she was arrested by the mercenaries at her home in April 2018, accused of hiding weapons on behalf of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-led fighters who defeated Isis in the semi-autonomous enclave known as Rojava.

“They took me to Turkey’s Kilis [a city in south-central Turkey, near the border with Syria], after which they put me before a court and then imprisoned me in Afrin later,” she explained.

“I myself witnessed four young men aged between 25 and 30 being slaughtered in Kilis city prison,” she said. “An elderly man also lost his life due to severe torture.”

Sara was held for five months and was fed pork and rotten food, with a limited supply of water. She witnesses women being hit with whips and one hung upside down by her foot and beaten until she passed out.

The mercenaries justified their actions by claiming that “torturing Kurdish women is halal,” Sara explained.

She said that almost 50 children aged between five and 12 were among those held in the prison in occupied Afrin and that they too suffered brutal torture.

Sara added that she is afraid to return to her home in Afrin due to the security situation and called for the international community to take action.

“I am afraid that I will be arrested, tortured and kidnapped again, because I had a hard time getting out of Afrin via some smugglers to [the Syrian Kurdish city of] Kobane,” she said.

A United Nations report issued in February suggested that terrorist groups are guilty of the “war crimes of hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture and pillage” in Afrin.

According to the UN, Kurds are the main victims of the gangs, which have confiscated land and property including olive trees, a major source of income for thousands of farmers.

In May, the Morning Star reported the discovery of a “torture camp” in Afrin where mainly Kurdish and Yazidi women were held by militia from the Hamza Division.

Amid allegations of rape and sexual abuse, footage has circulated on social media appearing to show the women being stripped naked and tortured in the northern Syrian camps.

According to the Missing Afrin Women Project, 161 women have been kidnapped since March 2018. About a third have been released from captivity, but the whereabouts of the rest is unknown.

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