Erdoğan running secret prisons in Syria – analyst

Turkey is running secret prisons across Turkish-controlled northwestern Syria, analyst Jonathan Spyer said in the Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Spyer cited the example of Nadia Hassan Suleiman, a Syrian citizen arrested in Afrin in 2018, who was among the detainees who was kept in these off-the-grid prisons.

Suleiman was held in a series of unofficial prisons for two years, accused of being associated with the Assad regime and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) “with no charges brought against her, and no legal process.” Spyer said.

She was repeatedly tortured, and on several occasions raped, during her captivity, he said.

Turkey has carried out three cross-border operations into war-torn Syria since 2016. Turkey and its loyalist Syrian factions have control of three different areas of the country - the northwestern enclave of Afrin, along with the regions of Idlib, and Ra's al-Ayn.

In October, Turkish parliament passed a motion to extend the Turkish military's mandate to carry out cross-border operations in the region for two more years, to pursue campaigns against Kurdish forces, who Ankara maintains are linked to an insurgency on Turkish soil. 

The facilities Suleiman was held in was maintained by Turkish military intelligence, and interrogated by Turkish-speaking officers, the analyst said, citing Suleiman.

“Each of the female detainees underwent various forms of torture and rape. The torture was daily, individually or collectively, and we were repeatedly raped,” Suleiman said.

“They gave us narcotic pills, and sometimes they poured cold water on all of us in the harsh winter cold. Even young children were not exempt from the torture,” she said.

Suleiman succeeded to escape from the Turkish-controlled area of Syria, with the help of smugglers, the analyst said.

According to two human rights bodies, the Violations Documentation Center and the Zaytouna Project, 8,590 people have been held in these off-the-grid prisons since 2018, of whom 1,500 have disappeared entirely, leaving no record, Spyer said.

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