Watchdog: Turkish-backed forces looting Afrin, Syria

Civilians carry their belongings at the recently captured city of Afrin, Syria, on Monday. Photo by Aref Tamwawi/EPA-EFE

March 20 (UPI) — Turkish-backed Syrian rebels looted properties in Afrin after taking control of the northern city, a Britain-based watchdog said Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebel fighters stole items from political and military headquarters, machineries, vehicles, and shops that were previously under the control of Kurdish fighters.

Turkish-backed rebels took control of Afrin on Sunday after a two-month operation. A commander of the rebel forces blamed the looting on thieves.

The U.S. State Department said Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed rebels were prompting the evacuation of the majority of the city.

“This adds to the already concerning humanitarian situation in the area, with United Nations agencies reporting a displaced population in or from Afrin district in the hundreds of thousands, who now require immediate shelter and other assistance to meet basic needs,” a statement from State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “We are also concerned over reports of looting inside the city of Afrin. We have repeatedly expressed our serious concern to Turkish officials regarding the situation in Afrin.”


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