Afrin Reference Guide

Over the last several years I’ve come across a number of resources relating to Afrin, its history and the current situation under Turkish occupation. I’ve begun to compile such here with the hope that it can be of assistance to others looking to research Afrin’s past and present.

I plan to continue updating this as I come across work worth highlighting. Please feel free to reach out if you believe there’s sources or reports that I’ve overlooked. 

Scroll to the bottom for a collection of maps of Afrin

Photo Credit: Orhan Qereman

Afrin under Turkish occupation

Turkish-backed Governance

Seizure, Usufruct, and Taxes.. who protects property rights in Afrin?” (Arabic) Ninar Khalifa, Enab Baladi. 22 July 2020.

Cultivating Chaos: Afrin after Operation Olive Branch,” Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights. July 2020.

Syria: Turkish Identification Cards Obliterate Identity of Natives and Displaced Populations Alike,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 21 October 2019.

Afrin Under Turkish Control: Political, Economic and Social Transformations,” by Khayrallah al-Hilu, Cadmus/EUI. 25 July 2019.

From Afrin to Jarabulus: A small replica of Turkey in the north,” Enab Baladi. 29 August, 2018.

Arrests and Kidnappings

Spreadsheet of Kidnapped/Arrest civilians,”@Caki____. updated by month.

Afrin: How Eight Women were Forcibly Disappeared by the Hamza Division?” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 3 August, 2020.

MISSING AFRIN WOMEN PROJECT: Tracking kidnappings and disappearances of women in occupied Afrin, Syria,” Meghan Bodette. launched 30 July 2020.

Afrin: 40 People including two Women Arrested in June 2020,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 15 July 2020.

Afrin: 17 Men, One Woman Arrested in Four Districts during May 2020,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 14 June 2020.

One woman held in an SNA black site in Afrin has been reported released. Others are still missing,” Meghan Bodette, medium. 10 June 2020.

Afrin: 43 Arrested by the National Army in April 2020,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 20 May 2020.

Afrin: 45 Confirmed Arrests, 5 against Women, in March 2020,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 13 April 2020.

Afrin: 73 People Arrested, Including Five Women, in February 2020” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 16 March 2020.

Afrin: Including Five Women, 66 Persons Arrested in January 2020,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 14 February 2020.

Afrin: 506 Arrests in the Last Six Months of 2019,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 15 January 2020. 

Turkey jails Afrin civilians for ‘disrupting the unity and integrity of the Turkish state’,” Meghan Bodette, medium. 22 December 2019.

Afrin: 72 People, including 5 Women, arrested in November 2019,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 18 December 2019

Map of Kidnappings and Murders Summer and Fall 2019,” @Caki____. 

54 Arrests, Including two Women, in Afrin during October 2019,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 12 November 2019. 

Syria: 127 Arrests in Afrin during September 2019,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 11 November 2019. 

Syria: At Least 80 People Arrested in Afrin during August 2019,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 9 September 2019. 

63 arrests in Afrin during July 2019,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 20 August 2019.

Syria: At Least 13 Kidnappings Recorded Recently in Afrin,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 27 July 2019.

Syria: 56 Persons Arrested by the “National Army” in Afrin,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 8 July 2019.

Incidents of Shrine and Graveyard Desecration

Syria: New Visual Evidence of Bulldozing the ‘Ali Dada’ Historic Shrine in Afrin,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 10 September 2019.

Afrin: Incidents Of Desecration And Destruction Of Cultural Sites,” Alexander McKeever, Bellingcat. 11 July 2019.

Olive Branch Military Outpost Built Atop Afrin Cemetery,” Alexander McKeever, Bellingcat. 5 November, 2018.

Destruction and Looting of Archaeological Sites

Afrin – Turkish-backed groups undertake live ammunition exercises in Iron Age Temple,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 11 November 2019.

extensive digging and looting of historic artifacts in Cyrrhus…” @obretix. 10 November, 2019.

Olive Oil Trade

35,000 Tons of Stolen Syrian Olive Oil May Already Be in Europe,” Daniel Dawson, Olive Oil Times. 28 February 2019. 

Turkey Accused of Selling Stolen Syrian Olive Oil as Its Own,” Daniel Dawson, Olive Oil Times. 15 January, 2019.

Reports from Human Rights Monitoring Agencies

Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic,” (see IIIB, Afrin and adjacent areas) UNGA Human Rights Council. 28 January 2020.

Socioeconomic Impact of Displacement Waves in Northern Syria: Case study: challenges in daily living for the communities in Afrin district, Azaz and Albab,” IMPACT. 16 May 2019.

Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNHCR. 31 Jan 2019.

Syria: Turkey-Backed Groups Seizing Property Compensate Displaced Residents for Use, Damage,” Human Rights Watch. 14 June 2018.

Syria: Afrin Residents Blocked from Fleeing, Aid: Turkish-Allied Groups Loot, Destroy People’s Property,” Human Rights Watch. 9 April 2018.

Syria: Turkey must stop serious violations by allied groups and its own forces in Afrin,” Amnesty International. 2 August 2018.

Syrian Arab Republic: Humanitarian situation update in Afrin District and for IDPs in surrounding communities,” UN-OCHA. 15 June 2018.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Civilians in North-western Syria,” Monthly Human Rights Digest/UN. June 2018.

Syria Situation Report for the Eastern Ghouta and Afrin Humanitarian Emergencies as of 29 May 2018,” UNHCR. 29 May 2018. 

Syrian Arab Republic: Afrin Crisis, Situation Report No. 4,” UN-OCHA. 8 May 2018. 

Syria: Afrin Displacement – Facts and Figures, 26 April 2018,” UNOCHA. 26 April 2018.

Syria Crisis: Afrin Update, Issue 3: 5 – 12 April 2018,” WHO, 12 April 2018.

Other Reports and Articles

“‘We live in constant fear’: the exile and occupation of Afrin’s Yezidis,” Holly Johnston, Rudaw. 27 July 2020.

Syrian Yezidis under Four Regimes: Assad, Erdogan, ISIS and the YPG,” Amy Austin Holmes, The Wilson Center. July 2020.

Afrin: Kurdish population more than halved since 2018 offensive, says rights group,” Rudaw. 20 April, 2020.

Twitter thread on events in Afrin since the beginning of 2020,” @Caki____. 3 April 2020. 

Afrin: Shaykh Al Hadid: Intimidation and Economic Tightening,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 9 March 2020.

‘Nothing is ours anymore’ – HLP rights violations in Afrin, Syria,” Thomas McGee, Reclaiming Home: The Struggle for Socially Just Housing, Land and Property Rights in Syria, Iraq and Libya. 12 December 2019.

Turkey’s track record: The occupation of Afrin,” Rojava Information Center. 7 November 2019. 

Afrin: Details of Muhyiddin Osso’s Strangulation to Death,” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 30 September 2019.

The bitter legacy of Turkey in Afrin,” Pinar Tremblay, Al-Monitor. 7 September 2019.

Syria: Girl, Two Women Murdered in Alleged ‘Honor Killing,’” Syrians for Truth and Justice. 13 July 2019.

Rights Groups: Abuses on the Rise in Syria’s Afrin,” Sirwan Kajjo, VOA. 1 June 2019.

Uncertain Future Awaits Displaced Syrian Yazidis in Lebanon,” Nisan Ahmado, VOA. 12 May 2019.

Kurds in Afrin celebrate Nowruz despite ban,” Mohammad Abdulsattar Ibrahim, Al-Monitor. 26 March 2019. 

A Civilian And A Militant Tortured To Death By Armed Opposition Groups In Northern Aleppo,” Syrians for Truth and Justice, 20 February 2019.

Turkish Crimes in Afrin,” Autonomous Administration – Foreign Relations Office. 12 January 2019.

Why Ghouta refugees in Afrin refused to send their children to school,” Khaled al-Khateb, Al-Monitor. 2 December 2018. 

First Death Case Spells out Deir Ballut Camp’s Humanitarian Conundrum,” Syrians for Truth and Justice, 22 November 2018.

Stranded between Syria’s frontlines, Afrin’s Yazidis yearn for lost homelands,” David Meseguer, Middle East Eye. 31 October 2018.

Afrin After the Turkish Invasion: Expulsion, resettlement, and revanchism, Loubna Mrie, Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung. 5 October 2018.

Seizing lands from Afrin’s displaced Kurds, Turkish-backed militias offer houses to East Ghouta families,” Ammar Hamou and Barrett Limoges, Syria Direct. 1 May 2018.

How Turkey’s Campaign in Afrin Is Stoking Syrian Hatreds,” Molly Crabapple, The New York Review of Books. 11 April 2018.


The Militarisation of Jebel Laylun: The Frontline Between the SDF and Occupied Afrin,” Alexander McKeever, Popular Front. 13 April 2020.

Turkey faces growing Kurdish insurgency in Syria’s Afrin,” Amberin Zaman, Al-Monitor. 4 March 2019.

Wrath of the Olives: Tracking the Afrin Insurgency Through Social Media,” Alexander McKeever, Bellingcat. 1 March 2019.

Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, or the Syrian National Army

Who Are Turkey’s Proxy Fighters in Syria?,” Elizabeth Tsurkov, The New York Review of Books. 27 November 2019. 

The Structure of the Syrian National Army,” Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi. 21 November 2019.

Social Media Accounts

Local Media and Activists

Afrin Activists Network: Twitter, Facebook, Telegram

VDC-NSY: Website, Twitter, Telegram

Afrin Post: Website, Twitter, Facebook

Afrin Media Center: Twitter, Facebook

Afrin Now: Facebook, Telegram

Kurdish Legal Committee: Facebook

Insurgent Groups

Hêzên Rizgariya Efrînê: Twitter, Facebook, Telegram

Ghadab al-Zaytoun: Website, Facebook, Telegram

Turkish-backed Governance Bodies

Local Councils

Afrin: Facebook

Sheikh al-Hadid: Facebook

Jandaris: Facebook

Ma’batli: Facebook

Rajo: Facebook

Bulbul: Facebook

National Police and General Security Forces

Afrin: Facebook

Sharran: Facebook

Bulbul: Facebook

Rajo: Facebook

Military Police

Rajo Branch: Facebook

Afrin Before

Local Websites and Blogs

Tirej Afrin

Lokman Afrin

Ciyaye Kurmenc

Abdallah Osman

Afrin Canton website (archived)


Afrin through the Ages, Marwan Barakat. 2007. (Ar)

Jebel al-Kurd: A Social Historical Study, Dr. Muhammed ‘Abdo Ali. 2003. (Ar)

Jebel al-Kurd: A Geographical Study, Dr. Muhammed ‘Abdo Ali. 2009. (Ar)

Other books in Arabic and Kurdish available here

Battle for the Mountain of the Kurds: Self-Determination and Ethnic Cleansing in Rojava,  Thomas Schmidinger. 2019.

Yezidis in Syria: Identity Building among a Double Minority, Sebastian Maisel. 2016

The Kurds of Syria: Political Parties and Identity in the Middle East, Harriet Allsopp. 2015

Academic articles

“Kurdish Sufi Spaces of Rural-Urban Connection in Northern Syria,” Paulo Pinto. 2010.

“Peripheral Experiences: Everyday Life in Kurd Dagh During the Allied Occupation in the Second World War,” Katharina Lange. 2010.

“Syria’s Yezidis in the Kurd Dagh and the Jazira: Building Identities in a Heterodox Community,” Sebastian Maisel. 2013.


Afrin’s villages (Tirej Afrin)

Afrin’s archaeological sites (Tirej Afrin)

Afrin’s religious shrines (Tirej Afrin)


Topography and subdistricts (map by Nathan Ruser)
Subdisctricts, towns and villages (Kurdish)
Subdiscticts, towns and villages (Arabic)
Regional names
Afrin city: neighborhoods
Islamic and Ezidi shrines
Archaeological sites
Ezidi towns and villages
Ezidi towns, villages and shrines
Ariyan Newzad’s map of Afrin’s historical clans (source)
Progression of Turkey’s Operation Olive Brach, Jan-Mar 2018
Afrin: Turkish security infrastructure (see al-Hilu report)
Afrin: Turkish security sectors (see al-Hilu report)
IDP populations in Afrin, other parts of N. Aleppo, and Idlib (source)
Map of SNA faction presence in Afrin

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