The brutal killings were not hidden, nor were they meant to be. From the very beginning of Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, the fighters it sent across the border to carry out the mission have proudly documented their own war crimes.
Videos posted online by soldiers of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) – showing summary executions, mutilation of corpses, threats against Kurds and widespread looting – have struck terror into the tens of thousands who find themselves in the path of the offensive.
The ethnic dimension to many of the crimes has resulted in a mass exodus of Kurds and religious minorities from these once diverse borderlands.
Now, stranded in displacement camps across northeast Syria and in neighbouring Iraq, they fear they may never be able to return home. And that, they believe, was precisely the point.
“No one can go back there now, it’s impossible,” says Muhammad Amin, 37, a Kurdish man who fled with his family from the city of Ras al-Ayn in the first days of the Turkish-led operation.
“We’ve seen the videos,” he tells The Independent at a camp near the Syrian town of Tal Tamr. “They are shooting Kurdish people where they find them.”
Read more: The Independent