Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê a year later: Death, torture, rape, plunder...


URFA - Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê where Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens and Assyrians live together equally and freely, establishing a free administration, have been remembered with cases of extortion, plunder, rape, torture and death caused by Syrian National Army, controlled by Turkey.

1 year have passed since the operation 'Peace Spring' carried out by paramilitary groups Turkey gathered under the roof of Syrian National Army (SMO) on October 9, 2019 in Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê. The both cities which were controlled by Democratic Syrian Forces (QSD) were bombed with war planes with the permission of United States (USA), United Nations (UN) and Russia, on the anniversary of a symbolic day when PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan was removed from Syria on October 9, 1999. The statements of "We will bring prosperity" for Northern and Eastern Syria, which the AKP Chair and President Tayyip Erdogan repeated every chance he gets while targeting North and East Syria which he calls a 'Kurdish Corridor', cases of rape, torture and plunder increased daily.
Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî, which had a cosmopolitan structure as the common living areas of Kurdish, Armenian, Turkmen and Assyrian peoples and different beliefs for centuries, were separated from the Ceylanpınar and Akçakale districts of Urfa with the borders drawn at the beginning of the 20th century. The peoples of both cities were left to the mercy of ISIS and El Nusra with the beginning of the civil war in Syria. 
Turkey backed groups gathered under the roof of Free Syrian Army (ÖSO), targeted Serêkaniyê on December 2012.  In the second year of the Syrian war, the peoples here were subjected to forced migration, death, hunger, rape and plundering with the attacks of Al Nusra, ISIS and Ahrar al-Sham. Women were kidnapped and raped, their places of faith were burned and destroyed. Houses belonging to Christians were looted, churches and Syriac schools were set on fire. The fate of many of the abducted Christian believers is still unknown. People's Protection Units (YPG) and Women's Defense Units (YPJ) started to protect the people who were left to their fate as the Syrian war intensified. After the Serêkaniyê People's Assembly Co-chair was murdered on the way to a meeting with the FSA; YPG and YPJ forces launched a move against Serekaniye,  which was under the control of Al-Nusra and ISIS at the time. Armenians, Assyrians and Kurds who returned to the city after they were purged from Salafi groups started to build a free and equal life. That life continued until Turkey launched an operation on October 9, 2019.
Girê Spî, located just across the Akçakale district of Urfa, is one of the cities that got its share from the "Arab Belt" policy implemented by the BAAS government. With the Arab Belt move, the Kurds living at the area were displaced and Arab tribes were placed in their places. In the first years of the Syrian civil war, Girê Spî fell into the hands of groups such as FSA and El Kadire. Later the city was surrendered to ISIS while destruction and execution continued. Because it was a border neighbor with Turkey, ISIS provided military and logistic support from Rakka to Mosul. The city was a center of trade for ISIS and Turkey. 
YPG and YPJ forces, which inflicted a historical defeat on ISIS in Kobanê, cleansed Girê Spi from ISIS on 15 June 2015 within the scope of the "Rubar Qamishlo Move". Cities like Cizîre and Kobanê were declared cantons, whose administrative structure was strengthened with the established councils and communes.
With the canton declaration, the administrative system of Girê Spî was shaped as three districts, namely the center, Eyn Îsa and Siluk, and 600 villages. The population of the canton was around 250,000 before the attacks. While the administration formed as the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Girê Spî consisted of 62 people, there was an Arab and a Kurd in the co-chairmanship. Although most of the council members determined according to the population distribution of the city consisted of Arabs and Kurds, Turkmen and Armenians also took part in the administration. With the form of administration created, it has become a model that can be a solution to both the Syrian civil war and the crises in the region. The city was able to preserve this unique structure until 9 October 2019.
In Syria where imperialist states are trying to grap a share, Turkey took control of Cerablus, Ezaz and El Bab with the operation it carried out with the paramilitary groups, 'Euphrates Shield' in 2017 and  Efrîn on 2018 with the operation it called 'Olive Branch'. Now Turkey and the Salafi groups targeted the entire North and East Syria. Trapped in Idlib, Turkey this time, started to try to provide space for groups remaining with it, with the pressure from Russia. Addressing itself to Russia in Efrîn, Turkey turned to US in İdlib. Knocking on the door of the US, TUrkey had to negotiate with QSD behind closed doors.
Turkey's military forces deployed to the region wishing to entering Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê because there were Arab setttlements here. Another purpose was to settle the Salafi groups of İdlib in these cities. Turkey that wished to take control of the M4 highway, wanted to control the trade and get an interest in the petrolium. The Free Syrian Army groups backed by Turkish Armed Forces, well known for the rape, torture, extortion and plundering in İdlib and Efrîn announced that they formed an army called the Free Syrian Army affiliated to the Ministry of Defense. Paramilitary groups in Idlib, Cerablus, Ezaz, Bab and Afrin were deployed to the Ceylanpınar and Akçakale districts of Urfa. Special war media took its place on the border. The world watched the bombing of two cities with warplanes on live broadcast. Turkey siezed the control of Girê Spî and in this way, ISIS moved back in while the local people were forced into migration.
Turkey was accused of war crimes. War planes bombing civil settlements in the first days of the war was a proof of it.  . Amnesty International announced that 180 civilians lost their lives in the attacks in Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî. Some sources have also recorded that 116 civilians have died after the announcement of the ceasefire.  According to UN data, 100 thousand people, according to some other sources, around 300 thousand people were displaced. Those who remained were forced to migrate. Similar to what happened in Afrin, SMO groups that pillaged the homes and businesses of the people, kidnapped the few civilians who preferred to stay in the region and demanded ransom from their families.
At the beginning of the attacks, Salafist groups affiliated to the SMO executed Syrian Future Party Co-chair Hevrin Xelef along with 8 civilians on the M4 Highway. Cameras captured them shooting her lifeless body over and over again, which was defined as a war crime later. Again Çiçek Kobané who was captured by the SMO was beaten and tortured in front of the cameras. Kobané is still at Urfa Type T Closed Prison. Another example was 13 year old Muhammed Hamid Muhammed. The world knew him with his burned body screaming in Til Temir hospital. It was claimed that he was burned from white phosphorus. In an interview that took place on 13 October relating to war crimes, US Defense Secretary Mike Esper said: "Turkey must be held responsible for the war crimes committed by the Syrian opposition" The crimes continued one after the other. Demography was changed by Turkey, women were raped, people's properties were plundered. Turkey was accused of stealing the barley, wheat and olive havests. Torture and execution continued. A Kurdish family's house was confiscated and later turned into a Quran course. It was inaugurated by the Urfa Governor.
In the investigation report of the Syria Inquiry Commission formed within the United Nations (UN) covering the period between 11 January and 1 July 2020, it was said: "This situation shows that the SMO and Turkish forces are in a common command and control hierarchy. The war crimes committed by these groups are evaluated on the basis of command and control mechanism. We want to recall that Turkish forces were aware of the pillage and seizure of civilian property and that civilians detained and tortured and these acts were done under the supervision of Turkish authorities. Turkish authorities who did not stop these acts from happening have violated Turkey's obligations to international conventions.