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Ankara seeks to discipline proxies in northeast Syria

Allegations of war crimes committed by the rebel Syrian National Army backed by Turkey in northeast Syria have forced Ankara to take steps to try to rein in its proxies.

The so-called Syrian National Army (SNA), an umbrella military command formed in early October consisting of some 80,000 fighters from Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militias, has been accused of serious human rights violation and possible war crimes in northern Syria, including the displacement of civilians, extrajudicial killings, looting and mistreatment of Kurdish prisoners of war. The violations have been highlighted on social media as well as reporting by Western media and documentation by human rights groups. 

Among the more publicized incidents was the torture and assassination of the Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf by Ahrar al-Sharqiya on Oct. 12 along with the execution of her driver and a guard on the Hasakah-Manbij (M4) highway. Turkey-backed forces were also recorded executing captured Kurdish fighters, torturing others, and mutilating bodies, all violations that constitute war crimes. Other allegations include looting of administrative buildings and shops and attacks on civilian infrastructure, such as power lines and water supplies, medical facilities and on historical and religious sites.

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