Fact Check: After UN Finds War Crimes Evidence in Syria, Turkey Tries to Deflect Blame.

On Sept. 18, the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR)announced a report on human rights violations allegedly committed by various factions in the Syrian conflict, including Turkish-backed armed groups in northern Syria operating in areas that are controlled by Turkey. Among other things, the U.N. report documents kidnappings, illegal population transfers, killings and theft of property.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on Turkey “to immediately launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation into the incidents we have verified, account for the fate of those detained and abducted by the affiliated armed groups, and hold accountable those responsible for what may, in some instances, amount to crimes under international law, including war crimes.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded:

"We categorically reject both the baseless allegations of human rights violations claimed against the Syrian opposition, which operate on the ground to combat terrorism and ensure the return of Syrian refugees, and concerning our country in relation to them, as well as the groundless criticisms by the [U.N.] leveled against Turkey on the basis of the said allegations.”

This is misleading.

First, it is not true, as the Turkish Foreign Ministry claims, that the report ignores alleged atrocities by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units(YPG), which worked with the United States to combat Islamic State and also joined the fight against the Assad regime in the long-running Syria conflict.

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