As the battle for the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin raged earlier this year, amid Turkey’s eventually successful “Operation Olive Branch” to seize control from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), images of the bloodbath flooded social media.
But there was one especially shocking video, captured via cellphone, that ignited international outcry: a fighter with the all-female Kurdish unit known as the YPJ lay dead and half-naked in the dirt, her body mutilated with deep cuts lacerating her exposed breasts. Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighters in military fatigues can be seen swarming the corpse, groping the pockets of her jeans.
“She’s beautiful, man,” declares one fighter as one purports to take a selfie with the defiled body. In Arabic, others declare “God is Great,” while some call the downed soldier a “female pig.” One even digs his dirty boot into her chest, and another puts the muzzle of his rifle at her head.
“I was checking Facebook and I came across the video and was in shock; it was so awful that I had no words,” Ahmed, 31, told Fox News. “I didn’t know who the girl was… and then a commentator wrote it was Barin Kobani.”
Barin Kobani, Ahmed’s beloved sister.
In desperation, he called around hoping it was someone else with the same name. But within hours, SDF officials confirmed Ahmed’s worst nightmare. In agony, he delivered the news to the family. They believed Barin, 27, was killed on February 3 fighting in a village outside Afrin, but the footage did not surface on the Internet until several days later.
Over the course of the next week, more videos and images emerged – showing Barin’s remains in different locations and with different jubilant fighters, indicating she may have been paraded as a dead trophy through the streets.