NSO

Olive branch fighters loot and destroy property in Afrin, and residents of the city fear the next

Statue of "Kawa al-Haddad\blacksmith", a legendary symbol of the Kurds after being destroyed by the hands of fighters of the "Olive Branch" in the city of Afrin


The factions participating in Operation Olive Branch on Sunday morning took control of the city of Afrin, north Aleppo, with little resistance from the People Protection Units YPG, which withdrew from the city overnight. However, controlling the city was accompanied by robberies and sabotage, of the factions and preceded by incineration by the YPG elements before withdrawing from the city, NSO reporter who walked around the city tried to document some of these abuses.

 

* The road to Afrin

About two months after the start of the battles in the Operation Olive Branch that started on January 20 this year, the military operations began to accelerate clearly, as the factions participating in the battle to declare their control daily on nearly a dozen villages, since the control of the entire borderline with Turkey, when the Turkish Staff announced the start of the second phase of military operations, and continue to advance towards the city of Afrin.

During the second phase of the battle, it was clear that there was an accelerated withdrawal of the factions of the Democratic Union Party PYD, especially with the loss of the main centers of the regions, namely, Bulbul, Rajo, Sherran, Jinderes and Sheikh Hadid, which made the operations in the last few days a continuous progression without actual resistance.

The Olive Branch continued in the past two days towards the city of Afrin. It reached the eastern entrance to the city. It also advanced from Jinderes to the western outskirts of Afrin. As they continued to advance towards the city, the PYD militants began to withdraw, and last night they burned the cars belonging to them in addition to the burning of some public and service facilities, and by morning, the gunmen had left the city to be entered by the Olive Branch factions without resistance.

 

* Massive thefts and deliberate sabotage

NSO reporter was able to enter the city of Afrin after being controlled by the factions for hours, where he monitored some of his observations from the moment the city entered until he left.

Our NSO reporter said that the first thing that caught his eyes when entering the city of Afrin is the extent of sabotage, despite the fact that it was not subjected to heavy bombardment or violent clashes, noting that the western entrance to Afrin from the town of Jinderes is the only one that has had clashes between the parties, but it did not last long.

As entering the city on the side of Jinderes, the sounds of firing in the air are heard intensively by elements of the factions that controlled it. As more incursion into the city, the cars burned by the PYD militants appear, while the bodies of two men and a woman, by direct shots in the head, without knowing the cause or the actors.

Before the withdrawal of the PYD militants from the city, they planted a number of mines, especially at the entrances to the residential buildings and near the garbage containers, where Olive Branch fighters exploded three mines while the reporter was in the city, were planted at the entrances of residential buildings, while placing a signal on a fourth mine awaiting the arrival of a Turkish military company specialized in the dismantling of mines.

The sudden withdrawal of the party's militants and the displacement of thousands of civilians from Afrin were an opportunity exploited by some elements of the factions that took control of the city to seize the contents of shops, some houses, cars, tractors, and motorcycles, in addition to destroying of some shops and their facades.

The NSO reporter pointed out that he saw fighters from the "Olive Branch" trying to open the cars closed, and saw at the entrance to the city other fighters emptying the contents of one of the shops selling alcoholic beverages and moving them to another place.

The reporter added that he also saw other fighters inside a children's toy shop and looted some of its contents and destroyed what remained, adding that some fighters opened the doors of a number of shops by force and took away what they could steal while destroying the rest of the contents.

While walking around the city, our reporter met with some of civilian residents, telling that they were satisfied with everything. But when the reporter turned off the camera, they expressed their shock and disappointment. The reporter met a 70-year-old man who told him that four "Olive branch" asked him to borrow his car for a tour of the city, adding that he filled the tank with fuel and gave it to them, but they took it and left without return, and we won't broadcast the interview with the man, for his safety, and at his own request.

He added the man's wife was sick and his daughter was about to give birth, saying he needed the car so he could be rushed to the hospital when he had to.

The old man said that the Democratic Union Party PYD had been severely tightened on the people, imposing heavy taxes on them and restricting their movement, but he added: "We wanted to get rid of the power of the party at any price, but we did not want to come to us worse than it,".

During the short period following the control of the factions on the city, a number of civilian cars were stolen by some fighters, and most of the motorcycles were stolen and moved out of the city. The reporter said it is striking that some elements use stolen cars to transport stolen goods from commercial shops and houses, pointing out that the city was in chaos after the control of the factions.

 

* The chaos spread and the situation is out of control

In all this chaos, the NSO reporter learned that the Free Army's 23rd Division had withdrawn its fighters from neighborhoods that were looting and taking them to other neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city to avoid being accused of participating, Where the division issued an internal order among its members, to withdraw due to abuses in the city.

The reporter also met with another leader of one of the Kurdish factions involved in Operation Olive Branch, who told him that the elements had become out of control, adding that they were no longer able to control them.

Some elements and leaders try to maintain security as much as possible. The old man who his car was stolen managed to file a complaint with one of the security chiefs and gave them their specifications to search for them, indicating that there was a response from the elements.

The reporter can not describe the details of the chaos. The journalist may be arrested if he is not affiliated with some faction. Journalists are allowed to photograph only areas such as the public square and areas that have not been robbed at the outskirts of the city.

Our reporter said that during his stay in the city, he saw a TRT World media team filming in the areas where the robbery was taking place. One group leader tried to guide them to another, quieter area, but the interpreter told him they could not overlook the chaos. Which is witnessing the city, adding that they have seen abuses of the factions in previous times, but it has not reached this limit, according to him.

The reporter pointed out that elements belonging to the majority of the factions participated in the robberies with varying amounts of stolen materials and types, adding that the most two factions were seen in the elements involved are the contingents of "Hamzat" and "Osod al-Sharqiyah".

The thefts included tractors, cars, and shops. These incidents were concentrated in the markets and near the city center, while neighborhoods on the outskirts of Afrin were not subjected to similar operations.

When leaving Afrin at the western entrance through the road leading to the Jinderes area, you can see Turkish cars loaded with relief supplies, distributing aid to dozens of people. Other dozens arrive at the site of relief vehicles. The areas where the Turkish authorities are calm and disciplined, on the contrary of the regions where is limited to the presence of "Free" fighters.

We attach three pictures showing an aspect of the vandalism and looting carried out by fighters from the Olive Branch, as well as pictures of the old vehicles and facilities burned by PYD militants before they left the city

 


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