UN reveals involvement of Turkish intelligence agents in torture sessions in Syria: report

A report issued by a United Nations commission on February 7, 2023 reveals the involvement of Turkish officials in the torture of victims who were arbitrarily detained in Syria by armed factions aligned with the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), Nordic Monitor reported.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, established by the UN Human Rights Council, found cases of abuse and torture in which Turkish officials including agents from Turkey’s intelligence agency MIT (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı) participated in and contributed to the torture of victims.

The February report is in line with the commission’s earlier findings in the last few years that confirm a pattern of involvement of Turkish officials in human rights violations in territory that is under the control of the TSK or its allied factions.

The UN commission underlined that detainees were arbitrarily rounded by the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) and its various factions, often in violation of due process. In most cases the perpetrators were not punished.

In one specific case of torture reported by a Kurdish survivor, an unidentified Turkish official, likely an intelligence agent, interrogated him through a translator and helped guards put him in what is called “shabh,” i.e., hanging the victim from the ceiling by his arms.

The incident took place at the Hawar Killis prison, a facility run by the Sultan Murad Division of the SNA, where the victim was blindfolded, stripped naked and beaten and had his toenails pulled out. A Turkish official even threatened the person with rape.

The Sultan Murad Division’s commander, Fehim Ertugrul Isa, an ethnic-Turkmen Syrian and a naturalized Turkish citizen, is closely allied with and enjoys access to key leadership in the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

According to the UN report, civilians in Afrin and Idlib where the TSK and its allied factions maintain control were subjected to arbitrary and incommunicado detention, and some were detained in a manner tantamount to enforced disappearance.

The report covered cases recorded between July 1 and December 31, 2022 and confirmed a pattern of abuse and torture by Turkish officials and their allies in the north and northeast of Syria that were widely documented in previous reports issued by the same commission.


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