A Turkish NGO is falsely claiming it is distributing settlements to victims of the February 2023 earthquake, according to an expose published in North Press Agency. The NGO is actually distributing the homes to Turkish-backed militants of the Syrian National Army (SNA), the assorted Syrian militants who occupy the Afrin region. The settlement at Jabal al-Ahlam, which will have 48 homes, a mosque, a school, and a park, will be built upon more than 10,000 square meters of land illegally seized from a local olive farmer, M. Ziyad Habib.

The families receiving these homes were falsely registered as the legal owners of houses that were destroyed by the February 2023 earthquake, says Ibrahim Sheiko in an interview with North Press Agency

However, these families whose homes were destroyed by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which struck central and southern Turkey and northern Syria, were predominantly Kurdish. The families receiving the homes are families of the SNA militants who have been occupying the region. The homes are being illegally distributed under the guise of humanitarian assistance, according to Sheiko. The homes are being built by the Turkish organization WIFAK, with the collusion of several other organizations.

These settlements are “part of the ongoing efforts to change the demography of Afrin city,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)

Settlements under construction in Turkish-occupied region of North and East Syria. Photo by North Press Agency.

“Turkey – along with its affiliated armed opposition factions, aka the Syrian National Army (SNA) – has been implementing a systematic policy of demographic change in the Afrin region since its invasion of the area in March 2018,” says North Press Agency

Afrin is a fertile agricultural region of northern Syria that has been occupied by Turkey since 2018, consisting of the city of Afrin and 365 villages. The Turkish military has control of the region, and operates through various militias calling themselves the “Syrian National Army.” The SNA is financially and materially supported by the Turkish government. The SNA and the Turkish forces have been responsible for a wide variety of human rights violations, including murder, rape, torture, theft, extortion, forced labor, forced marriage, and seizure of property. The seizure of the land in order to build settlements is one component of the occupation of northern Syria.