Condemnation of the Abduction, Rape, and Murder of an Iraqi Child in the Countryside of the Hasaka Governorate in Syria

Syrian National Army Forces Bear Responsibility for Policing and Holding Those Involved in Crimes Accountable

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Paris – Syrian Network for Human Rights

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) documented the abduction of a young child, Yassin Raad Mahmoud, on September 14, 2022, from his family’s place of residence in the city of Ras al-Ain. A few hours after his abduction, Yassin’s parents found his blood-covered body in an empty area of land near their home in the city’s Hayy al Mahattah while searching for him in the vicinity of his house. Yassin, born in 2015, was a native of Samarra in Iraq and had been living in the city of Ras al-Ain in the northern countryside of Hasaka Governorate. Yasin, whose father is deceased, had been displaced from Iraq by military operations in his city against ISIS, was being raised by his mother and grandfather.

Yasin’s body was taken by residents of the area to a medical center in the city of Ras al-Ain. According to the pathologist’s autopsy report, the child was raped, then killed by smashing his skull with a stone or other hard object. Several bruises were also found on different areas of the child’s body, the forensic report confirmed. The SNHR has obtained several photographs showing the effects of brutal sexual and physical abuse on the child’s body.
According to the various items of information and details of this horrific incident that we have collected and analyzed, we found that the perpetrator of the crime is a man called Mustafa Abdul Razzaq Al- Salameh from the city of Suran located in the northern countryside of Hama Governorate. Al- Salameh is a former member of the extremist faction of the Jund al-Aqsa Brigade, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015. Jund al-Aqsa’s activities has been concentrated in the countryside of Hama and Idlib provinces, and the group still has cells in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

In 2018, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested Al-Salameh, in the final stages of ISIS’ defeat. About two weeks ago, the SDF released al- Salameh and he managed to reach the city of Ras al-Ain. He was given shelter by a military group affiliated with the Northern Hawks Brigade, one of the factions of the Tha-Eroon Le Al-Tahrir, which is in turn one of the factions of the SNA located in the city of Ras al-Ain.
Preliminary information indicates a kinship between Al-Salameh and one of the leaders of the Northern Hawks Brigade, who facilitated Al-Salameh’s release and accommodation in the city of Ras al-Ain. While we do not believe that he was able to join the SNA in such a short period of time, Al-Salameh’s relative still bears responsibility for having sheltered him and hindering judicial authorities from arresting him to prosecute him for his affiliation with the extremist Al-Aqsa Brigade organization, whose violations we have documented in the countryside of Idlib and Hama Governorate.

SNA forces subsequently arrested Al-Salameh on September 14, handing him over to the military police, and while he was being transported from the military police headquarters in Ras al-Ain to the police headquarters in the city the next day, September 15, he was shot dead. .

The SNHR condemns all forms of sexual violence, maiming, and killing targeting children, and demands that all those involved in and responsible for enabling this brutal crime be held accountable, as well as insisting that an immediate independent investigation be immediately opened. Furthermore, we emphasize the need to hold all perpetrators of such violations accountable, to inform Syrian society of the results of all investigations into such crimes, and to expose all those involved.
SNA forces have responsibility for maintaining security in the areas under their control, and for consolidating the authority of the judiciary, compensating victims’ families for the material and moral damage they have suffered, and for taking all possible measures to provide special protection and safety for children and to secure their needs. The SNA is also responsible for investigating the killing of the perpetrator Mustafa Al-Salameh and holding other perpetrators accountable. Additionally, all those involved in transporting Mustafa Al-Salameh and sheltering him within the community prior to his crime must be held accountable, as impeding judicial accountability for the violations committed by Al Salameh and his faction, and knowingly obstructing the judiciary from detaining him and ascertaining his mental capacity led to his being able to perpetrate this crime that has outraged and terrorized Syrian society.