The U.N. Human Rights Council's International Investigation Commission for Syria released a report Thursday, saying that the Sochi deal signed between Turkey and Russia was critical in easing the tension in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib. The report also underlined that attacks by the Bashar Assad regime have caused civilian causalities by the continual targeting of civilian settlements.
Reiterating that there have been confiscations and civilian disappearances in the areas controlled by the regime in the province, the report stated that the regime has caused the deaths of thousands of "civilian Syrians," despite the establishment of the de-escalation zones.
The report also emphasized that the regime does not take any measures to prevent civilian deaths in their attacks.
The Sochi agreement was reached on Sept. 17 by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. According to the agreement, the cease-fire in the Idlib region will be preserved, with the withdrawal of heavy arms and radicals from the region. Prior to the agreement, the Assad regime was signaling a grand operation toward Idlib, which is the last stronghold of the opposition, sparking deep fears in the international community of a new humanitarian crisis.
As Turkey and Russia stepped in and averted a possible disaster, the Sochi deal was internationally welcomed. In relation to the implementation of the agreement, Turkish and Russian officials have been taking positive stances, stressing that the process has been continuing in line with the deal.
Yet, the regime and its supporters have been attempting to violate the agreement. Since the Sochi agreement in September, more than two dozen civilians have lost their lives in attacks by the regime with many injured.
The report also criticized the actions of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) in Deir el-Zour province.
Evidence has shown that under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the YPG caused overwhelming civilian deaths in 2018. It is also expressed that the terrorist organization has been forcibly holding thousands of women and children, without providing for even their basic needs.
Amnesty International documented a wave of forced displacement and home demolitions amounting to war crimes carried out by the autonomous administration dominated by the YPG in 2015.
The report also uncovered some cases where the YPG forced locals to leave the cities by threatening to shoot them and setting their houses on fire while the inhabitants were still inside if they refused to leave.
The organization also published eyewitness accounts and satellite images detailing the deliberate displacement of thousands of civilians, including Kurds, and the razing of entire villages in areas under the control of the terrorist group. The satellite images showed 225 buildings standing in June 2014 but only 14 remaining in June 2015 in Husseiniya village and in the Tel Hamees countryside, a reduction of 93.8 percent.
The report further underscored that "extensive displacement and destruction did not occur as a result of fighting. Clear evidence revealed a deliberate, coordinated campaign of collective punishment of civilians in villages previously captured by [Daesh]." Due to YPG brutality, Turkey has opened its doors to 512,708 Syrian refugees fleeing YPG-held areas, while another 300,000 Syrian refugees from the region took shelter in Iraq.
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