• Sheet of paper Report

Aftermath: Injustice, Torture and Death in Detention In North-East Syria

illustration of Syrian detention camps
(Colin Foo/Amnesty International)
The principal partner of the US government in north-east Syria is engaged in the large-scale and systematic violation of the rights of more than 56,000 people in its custody.

These people include Syrians, Iraqis and other foreign nationals from an estimated 74 countries. The majority came into the custody of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in late 2018 and early 2019 during the final battles with the Islamic State (IS) armed group. They are now being held in a vast network of at least 27 detention facilities and two detention camps.

Amnesty International investigated the situation of people with perceived or alleged affiliation with IS in detention camps and facilities in north-east Syria for nearly two years, from March 2022 to February 2024.

Based on this research, Amnesty International concludes that the autonomous authorities have committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, some of which amount to war crimes.

These include, but are not limited to, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention, arbitrary deprivation of life and gender-based violence, as well as the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, and outrages on personal dignity. The autonomous authorities have also likely committed the war crime of murder in Sini detention facility.

Amnesty International concludes the US government has likely violated its obligations under Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions to ensure the autonomous authorities’ respect for international humanitarian law. The US likely breached these obligations where they participated in joint operations or provided intelligence to the SDF and affiliated security forces that led to the detention of people for perceived IS affiliation. In these situations, the US would have been aware that individuals detained by the security forces would be subjected to violations documented in this report.

Read the report, “Aftermath: Injustice, Torture and Death in Detention in North-East Syria.”