85 Syrian Organizations Welcome the U.S. Treasury’s Sanctions against Two Syria-Based Armed Groups and Commanders

The undersigned Syrian organizations welcome the decision of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of 17 August 2023 to designate the two Syrian armed groups, the Suleiman Shah Brigade (known as al-Amshat) and the Hamza Division (known as al-Hamzat). The two groups are connected with serious human rights violations against the Kurdish community in the Afrin region, northern Syria. These violations include abductions, arrests, extortion, rape, torture, and the seizure of land and property.

Additionally, the signatory organizations welcome the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions imposed on leading members of the two designated groups. The Treasury sanctioned Mohammad Hussein al-Jasim (Abu Amsha)—commander of the Suleiman Shah Brigade, Walid Hussein al-Jasim—a younger brother of Abu Amsha who is also assigned a leadership role in the Suleiman Shah Brigade, and Sayf Boulad Abu Bakr—commander of the Hamza Division. All three leaders are involved in grave human rights abuses. Moreover, the Treasury designated the Türkiye-based al-Safir Oto car dealership, which Abu Amsha allegedly owns in partnership with the commander of the Syrian armed group Ahrar al-Sharqiya, Ahmad Ihsan Fayyad al-Hayes (Abu Hatem Shaqra). Notably, the Treasury has previously designated al-Hayes and his armed group for committing numerous crimes against civilians.

Over the past years, several armed groups affiliated with the Syrian National Army (SNA)—operating under the mantle of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces—have perpetrated systematic and widespread human rights violations in areas under their control with impunity. The groups continue to target the populace in those areas, especially the local communities in Afrin, Ras al-Ayn/Serê Kaniyê, and Tell Abyad, which are under Türkiye’s direct control. These violations have been documented by several credible Syrian and international organizations and corroborated by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic in its periodic reports.

Considering this, the undersigned organizations call for widening the scope of sanctions to cover other armed groups, their commanders, and their affiliates who have been corroborated as having committed grave violations. Moreover, the organizations demand that concerned entities press Türkiye, as the party in control of these armed groups and as an occupying power, to bear its responsibilities and thus guarantee the safety and well-being of civilians and maintain law and order.

Furthermore, the signatory organizations demand that:

  • The United Nations Security Council take all necessary measures to protect civilians in Afrin, Ras al-Ayn/Serê Kaniyê, and Tell Abyad, across the northern regions, and throughout Syria. The council shall also act to halt the processes of demographic change and the seizure of property and to ensure the safe, dignified, and voluntary return of residents to their home areas.
  • War crimes units in countries whose national laws warrant universal jurisdiction and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) document and collect evidence on human rights violations occurring across northern Syria, especially abuses perpetrated against vulnerable groups and/or on the basis of the victims’ national, ethnic, or religious affiliations.
  • The International Commission of Inquiry on Syria issue a special report on human rights violations across northern Syria, including in the Afrin region—the Olive Branch Strip; A’zaz, Jarabulus, and al-Bab—the Euphrates Shield Strip; and Ras al-Ayn/Serê Kaniyê and Tell Abyad—the Peace Spring Strip.

Furthermore, the signatory organizations call on the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia to take similar steps, which are prone to advance the course of international litigation, aiming at holding accountable Syrian perpetrators residing in their territories, promoting documentation, accountability, and redress efforts initiated by European and international courts, and contributing to deterring perpetrators and ending impunity.

Organizations and Associations Signing the Statement:

  1. Adil Center for Human Rights
  2. Afrin Media Center
  3. Afrin Platform
  4. Afrin Post – News Network
  5. Ajyal Organization for Development
  6. Al_Khaboor Association
  8. Amal for Development
  9. Analysis and Strategic Studies Organization (ASO)
  10. ARAS Charity
  11. Areej Organization
  12. ASHNA for Development Organization
  13. Ashti Center
  14. Association Culturelle Kurde de Genève
  15. Baladna Organization for Civil Society
  16. Center for Research and Protection of Women’s rights in Syria
  17. Community Solidarity organization
  18. DAN for Relief and Development
  19. DAR Association for Victims of Forced Displacement
  20. Deirna for Development
  21. Development without Border Organized
  22. Enlil Center
  23. Enma Aljazera
  24. Environment and Water Association (EWAS)
  25. Euphrates NGO
  26. Ezdina Organization
  27. FDO
  28. Future Hands Organization
  29. Future Makers Team
  30. Green Tress
  31. Hevy for relief and development
  32. Human Rights Organization in Afrin – Syria
  33. Jian Charity Association
  34. Jiyan e. V. for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  35. Keskayi
  36. Khutwa Association
  37. Kobani for Relief and Development (KRD)
  38. Kurdish Legal Committee
  39. Lamsat Alkhier Association
  40. Lelun Association for Victims
  41. Lights for development and Construction
  42. Mary for Culture
  43. Nawras Development Organization
  44. North Press Agency – NPA
  45. Noun for Development and Support for Women and Children
  46. Nujin Society for Development Community
  47. Okaz
  48. Organization of Zagon
  49. Oxygen Shabab
  51. PÊL- Civil Waves
  52. Pioneers of Peace
  53. Publish path
  54. Qadar Organization
  55. Radiance of Hope
  56. Reng for Development
  57. Rojava Activists Network
  58. Rose organization for Support and Empowerment
  59. Organization
  60. Sara Organization to Combat Violence Against Women
  61. SCSDd
  62. Share for Community Development
  63. Shawshaka Association Women
  64. Shemal Association for Relief and Development
  65. Shilan Association for Relief and Development
  66. Silav Organization for Civil Activities
  67. SMART Center
  68. Society for Threatened Peoples
  69. Stability support Centre
  70. Synergy Association for Victims
  71. Syrians for Truth and Justice – STJ
  72. Taa Marbouta
  73. Tara Organisation
  74. Team for them
  75. Tel-Abyed Forum for civil society
  76. The Syrian Center for Legal studies and research
  77. The Violations Documentation
  78. Together for Deir Ezzor
  79. TRAHOM
  80. Tree of Life
  81. Urnammu for Justice & Human Rights
  82. Warshin Association of environment
  83. White Human Organization
  84. Zameen for Development and peacebuilding
  85. Zin Center for Development

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