Bellingcat @bellingcat Award-winning open source investigation. Want to donate? See here: Jul. 17, 2019 1 min read

Through photos and videos published by local outlets in Aleppo’s Afrin district, we have investigated numerous reports of desecration and destruction inflicted on the region’s cultural sites in the wake of Turkey's Operation Olive Branch. 

The sites afflicted — scattered across Afrin — include numerous shrines belonging to local Yezidi, Alevi and Sufi religious traditions, both civilian and YPG combatant cemeteries, places of worship, and a community center.

These incidents have occurred following a large exodus of Afrin’s original inhabitants, including most of the region’s Yezidi and Christian populations, who fled eastward rather than live under Turkish-backed rule.

The headquarters of the Yezidi Association, which was opened in downtown Afrin in 2013, was completely destroyed.

Here is what the Yezidi Association location looks like now, as per the latest information we have.

Through (Google Earth) satellite imagery we have placed the date of the center’s destruction within the first 4 days of Turkish control of the city.

While in most incidents there is no visual evidence clearly identifying perpetrators, it’s clear that these acts have occurred under Turkish-backed rule and have involved Turkish-backed militant factions.

Motivations for this damage to the religious and cultural landscape range from religious and ethnic sectarianism to personal gain — whether it's through looting or through logging of nearby sacred trees for firewood. 

Such incidents have occurred alongside a litany of other abuses inflicted on the indigenous majority-Kurdish population — such as frequently reported kidnappings, for example — as well as the Turkish requisitioning of the region’s famed olive oil output. 

Again, please see this complete report by @AKMcKeever for more. 

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