YPG militants commit ‘war crimes’ in Syria: report

Non-Kurdish civilians forced to leave their homes, villages burnt down in northern Syria by US-backed YPG militans, says Amnesty International, describing events as war crimes

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Updated Jan 26, 2016

The militants of YPG, armed wing of PYD autonomous administration, are committing war crimes in northern Syria by forcing thousands of non-Kurdish civilians out of their homes and demolishing entire villages, said the Amnesty International.

The London-based rights watchdog released a report on Tuesday in which it said more than a dozen of villages were destroyed by the PYD which is supported by the United States to fight against ISIS.

“By deliberately demolishing civilian homes, in some cases razing and burning entire villages, displacing their inhabitants with no justifiable military grounds, the Autonomous Administration is abusing its authority and brazenly flouting international humanitarian law, in attacks that amount to war crimes,” said Lama Fakih of Amnesty International, who made the research.

“In its fight against ISIS, the Autonomous Administration appears to be trampling all over the rights of civilians who are caught in the middle,” Fakih said.

“This report uncovers clear evidence of a deliberate, co-ordinated campaign of collective punishment of civilians in villages previously captured by ISIS, or where a small minority were suspected of supporting the group.”

More dramatically, some civilians were threatened by militants of  YPG - armed wing of PYD- with the US-led air strikes if they failed to leave their homes, according to the report.

They told us we had to leave or they would tell the US coalition that we were terrorists and their planes would hit us and our families,” said one of the residents, quoted by the report.

However, the PYD -Syrian affiliate of the PKK-, is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, NATO and EU-  justified their actions on the civilians as necessary move to “protect civilians’ lives,” a claim the residents denied as saying their villages had not been the site of clashes, or were at a distance from the frontline.

“It is critical that the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and all other states supporting the Autonomous Administration, or co-ordinating with it militarily, do not turn a blind eye to such abuses,” said Lama Fakih.

“The Autonomous Administration must immediately stop the unlawful demolition of civilian homes, compensate all civilians whose homes were unlawfully destroyed, cease unlawful forced displacements, and allow civilians to return and rebuild.”

The YPG militants have taken control of the area in February with the support of US-led air strikes and heavy weapons given by the US. Since then, the militants have been demolishing villages and displacing villagers of Arab and Turkmen majority .

Images from satellite show the scale of the demolitions in Husseiniya village, in Tel Hamess. They show 225 building standing in June 2014, however, only 14 remaining in June 2015.

The United Nations has also proved the YPG is committing war crimes in the area.

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria report by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 22.

“Following the YPG’s retaking of previously ISIS-controlled areas of Tal Abyad in early July and villages in the Tel Tamer region of Al Hasakah, YPG fighters reportedly looted houses belonging to Arab villagers,” Pinheiro said.

“The commission always reported on violence committed by the YPG in previous reports.”