Turkish-backed militants in Syria’s Afrin region abduct, kill disabled child

A group of Syrian militants has killed a disabled Kurdish boy after abducting him and his father in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin, local media agencies and Kurdish officials said on Monday.

Over a week ago, Mohammad Rashid Khalil, a 10-year-old boy with Down Syndrome, was abducted along with his father from the town of Izzaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo, Afrin Media Center (AMC), a Syria-based information office which has been documenting the Turkish assault on Afrin, asserted.

“The disabled child was found dead in the fields of Qustal Jandu village in the countryside of Afrin,” not long after his father and grandfather were executed “because their families could not secure the $100,000 ransom,” local media claimed on Monday.

Adnan Afrin, a commander with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), published on his social media accounts that Turkish-backed militants killed Mohammed Rasheed Khalil and his father.

“The so-called local councils in Afrin, supported by the Turkish occupation, are responsible for these crimes and they are partners in shedding the blood of our people in Afrin,” he wrote.

Syria’s Kurdish National Council, also known as ENKS in Kurdish, part of the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition (the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, or commonly referred to as the Syrian National Coalition), also condemned the act and called on the coalition to stop being “an umbrella for all forces ruling Afrin.”

The ENKS released its statement after being called upon by many Syrian Kurdish political parties, local human rights organizations, and activists to withdraw from the Turkish-backed opposition, whose forces are committing human rights abuses and violations in Afrin.

Mohammad Rashid Khalil, a 10-year-old boy with Down syndrome, was abducted with his father last week and was found dead on Monday in the Afrin countryside, Syria, May 27, 2019. (Photo: AMC)

Since the occupation of Afrin in March 2018, armed groups continue to commit violations and crimes, namely kidnapping, extortion, murder, rape, and the looting of property, in addition to the forced demographic changes in the area.

In February, the United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a statement charging that armed groups in Afrin were guilty of war crimes, such as “hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture, and pillage.”

The UN report stated that “the most common violations perpetrated in Afrin involved frequent abductions by armed groups and criminal gangs.”