The Kurdish militia YPG has been made responsible for war crimes, including the eviction and destruction of houses, whipping out entire neighborhoods for political gains, according to reports released by the human rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday.
The group announced that a fact-finding mission discovered 14 cities and villages in the north- and north-east of Syria, where Kurdish militias have triggered waves of expulsion and the demolition of entire neighborhoods. Thus, committing war crimes against civilians in the region.
The Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International stated that: „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.”
After Syrian government forces have withdrawn from Kurdish regions in the north- east of the country, Kurdish militias were able to fill the vacuum themselves. The ‘Kurdish Self-Defense Forces’ (YPG) and the Asayish Police fight henceforth against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Residents of the province of Raqqa in the north and the north- eastern city of al-Hasakah, which have been interviewed by Amnesty International, made claims against the YPG and denounced the group for using the fight against the Islamic State as a pretense to destroy entire neighborhoods.
Amnesty International verified, that the investigated destruction was not the result of clashes between the YPG and the so called Islamic State, but rather the result of a collective punishment against residents of towns and villages that had been taken-over by the Islamic State.
“They pulled us out of our homes and began burning the home…they brought the bulldozers…They demolished home after home until the entire village was destroyed,” according to a witness.
Amnesty backed up its claims via Satellite images of the village, which provide evidence, that almost 94% of the Husseiniya village was destroyed.
Residence of villages in Raqqa province, where the Islamic State also declared the city Raqqa as its capital, informed the fact-finding commission about the abuses they experienced from YPG fighters. The residence claimed that the Kurdish militia has threatened them with execution, if they would not voluntarily leave their villages.
Others reported that the YPG threatened to request airstrikes from the US-led coalition, if they fail to leave their houses.
“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, Safwan, published on Amnesty International.
The Kurdish militias refused said allegations, saying it was a preventive measure of isolation, to protect civilians in the near-by regions.
However, Amnesty could not verify those claims, since no fights were taking place in near-by villages.
“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,” said Lama Fakih.