Report: Turkey’s war against civilians

Rojava Information Center RIC Report on Turkeys war against civilians in Syria 1.12.2019


  1. Introduction
    1.1- A war against civilians
    1.2- Methodology
  2. Targeting press and prevention of information-gathering
    2.1- Impact on information-gathering
  3. Targeting civilians
    3.1- Targeting returnees
    3.2- Attacks outside the field of conflict
    3.3- Indiscriminate shelling and targeting of civilians
  4. Targeting health infrastructure
  5. Targeting civilian and humanitarian infrastructure
    5.1- Allouk Water Station
    5.2- Other attacks against civilian infrastructure
    5.3- Impact on IDP camps and humanitarian access
  6. Looting and property crimes
    6.1- Public property, businesses and cooperatives
    6.2- Private homes
    6.3- Theft and petty looting
  7. Conclusion
    7.1- Compound violations
    7.2- Assigning responsibility: TAF and TNA
    7.3- Taking action

APPENDIX 1: Database of rights violations by TAF and TNA, 9 October to present

APPENDIX 2: Turkey’s history of targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure


Turkey has met with near-global condemnation for its 2019 offensive into North and East Syria. More than the figures – 200,000 displaced within a week, hundreds killed 123 – a number of high-profile rights violations have provoked an international response. Chief among these were the field executions of leading female Syrian politician Hevrin Khalef and oth￾er civilians by Turkish-backed faction Ahrar al-Sharqiya on 12 October, along with the 13 October airstrike on a civilian convoy heading into Sere Kaniye which left 12 civilians dead.

These crimes, graphically documented on video and broadcast around the world, should not be considered as isolated incidents conducted by individuals. This report documents systematic crimes against civilians committed by both the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and its proxy militias organized under the banner of the ‘Syrian National Army’, henceforth referred to as the ‘Turkish-backed National Army’ (TNA). PDF

The report begins by looking at:
1) Targeting press and obstruction of information-gathering – both direct attacks on press and other ways in which Turkey tries to limit information-gathering
The report then covers violations potentially amounting to war crimes in four main areas:
2) Targeting civilians – both the deliberate targeting of civilians as a tactic, and indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes which have killed scores of civilians
3) Targeting civilian and humanitarian infrastructure – attacks on water, electricity, roads, bakeries and other infrastructure, affecting hundreds of thousands of civilians including IDPs
4) Targeting medical staff and infrastructure – attacks on ambulances, hospitals and medical staff
5) Looting and property crimes – the seizure and/or destruction of private homes, businesses, and property; civilian infrastructure, buildings and resources; and cooperative property, precipitated by the expulsion of the civilian population As we will explore in more detail below, actions committed by both the TAF and TNA across all four of these fields constitute violations potentially amounting to war-crimes. We have spoken with civilians affected in all four fields: the only survivor of a TNA attack which killed three civilians, IDPs living without access to drinking water, medical workers targeted in airstrikes, civilians who have lost their homes and livelihoods to looting.

Taken together, these testimonies paint a picture of what can be termed ‘Turkey’s war on civilians’ – a systematic attempt to make life unlivable for civilians in the zones Turkey aims to occupy, with the ultimate aim of forcibly displacing the civilian population in general and the Kurdish, Yazidi and Christian populations in particular, facilitating the installation of Turkmen and Arab militiamen and their families and the de facto expansion of Turkey’s territorial control.