The Reference: Mercenaries and the displaced: Syrian lives lost at the hands of Erdogan

With the closure of the file of the Syrian mercenaries in Azerbaijan, who were recruited by the Erdogan terrorist regime, there appeared the absence of 240 Syrians whose fate has not yet been identified, as 7,000 Syrians have been displaced from their villages as a result of the Turkish bombing.

Sources at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the issue of mercenaries in Azerbaijan has ended, as the last batches returned to Syria, after about 825 fighters from the pro-Ankara factions were remaining, but about 240 of the fighters who were transferred to Azerbaijan are still unaccounted for, and it is not known whether they were killed, captured, transported elsewhere, or stayed there.

It is noteworthy that the number of mercenaries who were transferred to Azerbaijan by the Turkish government reached 2,580 fighters, and 514 of them were killed and a number of others were captured, while the fate of 240 of them remains unknown until this moment. The rest returned to Syria after the end of their role there and the Azerbaijani government refused to resettle them.

On December 3, the Syrian Observatory indicated new information about the issue of mercenaries in Azerbaijan through a number of fighters who recently returned to the Syrian territories from the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Sources at the Observatory reported that the material dues received by the returning fighters varied. Some of them received an amount of 600 Turkish liras and $3,500, and some of them received 1,000 Turkish liras and $1,000, while another section received 5,000 Turkish liras in two payments. All confirmed that there are remaining financial dues that they are supposed to receive in the coming days.

The sources of the Syrian Observatory added that the number of human losses in terms of the dead in Azerbaijan exceeded the deaths of mercenaries in Libya, as the death toll of the fighters from the Syrian factions loyal to Ankara reached 514, while the number of those killed in Libya reached 496. The Observatory reported that new batches of the bodies of the fighters who were killed in the Nagorno-Karabakh region were transferred to Syria, accompanied by the recent returnees from Azerbaijan. Thus the number of corpses arriving in Syria reached 340.

In the context of Erdogan’s soldiers’ war against the Syrians, the Turkish forces, accompanied by the factions loyal to them, have stepped up their military operations on the Ain Issa district and villages in their vicinity, which are under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and where the regime forces have points and positions, where they carry out intense missile strikes almost daily. In addition to the infiltration operations carried out by the factions, the Turkish bombing operations focus on the town of Ain Issa, its surroundings and its outskirts, the villages of Sallum, Sidon, Muallaq, Debs, Koberlik, Khaldiya, Hoshan, Kour Hasan Ali and Al-Saqr.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the displacement of more than 7,000 civilians from the region during the past month against the backdrop of the major Turkish escalation and for fear of a military operation that the Turkish forces and the factions loyal to them might launch. Most of them are towards the city of Raqqa, while the population of the villages that are exposed to bombing and the aforementioned are estimated at about 5,000, and 2,500 of them were displaced during the same period.

The Turkish escalation comes at the sight of the Russian forces that are present in Ain Issa and have a military base there. However, they are content with hurting the escalating Turkish attacks, which prompted the citizens to carry out two demonstrations since the escalation began during the first days of November, to denounce the Russian silence. The first demonstration was on November 18, when the people organized a protest at the Russian base in Ain Issa, while the second occurred on November 25.

Also, the Turkish forces were not satisfied with the military escalation, but rather set up a military base belonging to them in the village of Tamamih in the countryside of Ain Issa, about 2 km from Ain Issa district, where they began to bring logistical and construction equipment to establish the base, which increased the residents’ concerns.

Against the background of recent developments in the region, a Russian officer and officers from the Syrian regime forces met with leaders of the SDF at the Russian base in Ain Issa, north of Raqqa, on December 2. According to the sources at the Syrian Observatory, the Russian forces set out thermal cameras over the Ain Issa base after the meeting ended.

It is noteworthy that the importance of Ain Issa lies in the fact that it has an important transportation node linking the governorates of Aleppo and Hasaka through the M4 international road that passes through the middle of it, and it is distinguished by local roads linking it to the city of Tal Abyad, which borders Turkey and the city of Raqqa.

This justifies the SDF’s desperation to keep it, in addition to the fact that the Kurdish Autonomous Administration established a large number of civil institutions and councils affiliated with it in Ain Issa after the international coalition forces established a military base for it in 2016. The SDF took control of Ain Issa in mid-2015 with the support of the international coalition after fierce battles against ISIS. Ain Issa is considered the capital of the Autonomous Administration of the regions of northeastern Syria, as it includes training camps and leadership centers. It is a mission for the Internal Security Forces and the SDF, and it is also considered the first line of defense for Ayn al-Arab, Kobani, Manbij and the city of Raqqa, as it is located along an important network of roads, and it has the transportation complex that connects the areas of Ain al-Arab and Tal Abyad to Manbij in the countryside of Aleppo. Between mercenary deaths and the displaced, Erdogan continues to practice his crimes against the Syrians in a strange vacuum of international silence.

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