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Turkey’s intelligence arrests head of Afrin police over corruption

Free Syrian Army members during the 'Operation Olive Branch' in northwest of Afrin’s Rajo town in Syria, on 15 February 2018 [Beha el Halebi/Anadolu Agency]
Free Syrian Army members during the 'Operation Olive Branch' in northwest of Afrin’s Rajo town in Syria, on 15 February 2018 [Beha el Halebi/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish intelligence services arrested the head of police in the Syrian city of Afrin yesterday over charges of corruption, the misuse of power, and sexual harassment.

According to the Syrian news site Zaman al-Wasl, head of Afrin’s police force Colonel Rami Tlass was arrested yesterday by Turkish intelligence due to an ongoing investigation being conducted into allegations of him taking bribes and of sexual harassment.

Tlass, a defector from the Syrian military who joined the resistance against the regime during the ongoing nine-year-long war, was appointed as the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) head of the police force in the northern city of Afrin in May 2018, two months after the Turkish military’s Operation Olive Branch which liberated it from the control of the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Unit (YPG).

READ: 400 Syria opposition police train in Turkey

The exact actions and details of the charges levelled against Tlass remain largely unrevealed, but according to another media outlet, Step News Agency, he has a reputation in Afrin for having sexual relations with multiple women outside marriage and for taking bribes in cases regarding the enforcement of law and justice in the city. He is reportedly being kept inside the city by Turkish intelligence for interrogation.

The Turkish-backed FSA, part of the interim government representing the Syrian opposition after the mass defection of regime forces to the resistance, has often been accused of perpetuating the same abuses which the regime has long practiced on its population. Turkey’s military and intelligence has said it has attempted to stop the theft, looting, corruption, and mismanagement carried out by the FSA over recent years.

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