Activists said that militants of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on Friday shot at a demonstration by residents of the town of Suluk in northern rural Alraqqa who demanded that they be allowed to return to their homes. A number of demonstrators were seriously injured.
The PYD prevented residents of the town from returning to their homes or farmlands in Suluk after the militant group had seized control of the town from ISIS militants last year.
The PYD militias have carried out ethnic cleansing in northeastern Syria, especially in Alhasaka and Alraqqa provinces, by preventing the local population from returning to their homes under the pretext of the presence of booby traps and IEDs laid by ISIS militants.
The PYD militias have employed the same policy in the Tal Abyad area, where many local residents were not allowed to return to their homes in the areas captured from ISIS in June of 2015.
A fact-finding mission to northern Syria uncovered a wave of forced displacement and home demolitions amounting to war crimes carried out by the PYD controlling the area, Amnesty International said in a report released in October 2015.
The report revealed evidence of alarming abuses, including eyewitness accounts and satellite images, detailing the deliberate displacement of thousands of civilians and the razing of entire villages in areas under the PYD’s control, often in retaliation for residents’ alleged sympathies with members of ISIS or other armed groups.
Amnesty said that the PYD has been brazenly “flouting international humanitarian law, in attacks that amount to war crimes.”
Many civilians said the PYD threatened that civilians who do not leave their homes will be targeted by the US-led coalition. “They pulled us out of our homes and began burning the home… they brought the bulldozers… They demolished home after home until the entire village was destroyed,” a witness from Alhasaka province told Amnesty.
In villages south of the town of Suluk, residents said the PYD militias accused them of supporting ISIS and threatened to shoot them if they did not leave.
Many residents said they were forced to leave even though their villages had not been the site of clashes, or were at a distance from the frontline and there was no danger from IEDs laid by ISIS.
Rights group said that the whole population of Suluk, estimated at 24,000, are prevented from returning to their homes. (Source: Orient Net)