Thousands in northern Syria protested against Turkey’s massacres of Kurds in Aleppo

nsnbc : Thousands of people in northern Syria took to the streets of Afrin on Wednesday to protest against the massacres against Kurds committed by Turkey’s military and the so-called Free Syrian Army in Afrin and other towns and villages in Syria’s Aleppo province.

FSA shelling_Shahaba region_Syria_Syrian Kurdistan_Jul 2017More than 10,000 people took to the streets of Afrin to protest against Turkish plans to attack the town, said Nawaf Xelil, a former member of the Syrian – Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) to reporters.

The protest rally on Wednesday was launched under the motto “No to the Turkish occupation of Afrin (Efrin)” and other slogans in Arabic and Kurdish language. The predominantly Kurdish city of Afrin hosts thousands of displaced people. It is protected by the PYD’s military wings, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ).

Turkey considers the PYD, as well as the YPG/YPJ as terrorist organizations allied and on par with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Last week Turkey vowed to “wipe out Kurdish terrorists” in the region. It has since then launched renewed cross-border attacks into Syria in cooperation with the so-called Free Syrian Army, resulting in massacres on non-combatant civilians.

Sipan Hemo, the general commander of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), said the Kurdish YPG fighters are ready to resist the Turkish troops if Turkey would launch operation Euphrates Sword in Afrin. “We will fight with all our capabilities, and it will be the first encounter for us to face the Turks directly. They are aggressors on our land, and enter land that is not theirs,” he told reporters. “We are in full readiness to thwart the plans of the Turkish occupation and force them to withdraw from every inch of Syrian lands,” he said.

YPG supporters in Afrin protest against Turkey's invasion plans.

June 29. YPG supporters in Afrin protest against Turkey’s invasion plans.

Turkey and the Free Syrian Army have started shelling villages in the Shebha countryside in the self-proclaimed Kurdish “Rojava” Monday night, resulting in the death of 3 civilians and 7 critically injured from one family – and the campaign to “eradicate Kurdish terrorists” in the region has only just begun.

On Wednesday, June 28, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said that the Kurdish city of Afrin on the Syrian side of the country’s southern border has to be cleared from the Kurdish rebels as they pose a “threat to the security of Turkey.” Afrin and “Rojava” form part of the attempt to establish a Kurdish territory with breezing straw access to the Mediterranean, as first forecast in an nsnbc article in 2012.

Kaynak made that statement to reporters on Wednesday. The statement came as Kurdish officials in Afrin and a Syrian monitoring group report daily cross-border clashes between the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Turkish military in the area, with both sides accusing one another for first initiating the fight. The YPG for its part, already reported, in detail, about increased cross-border incursions and attacks by Turkish military and what it describes as “Turkish-backed gangs”.

The Turkish Deputy Prime Minister however, claimed that “Turkey has to act to protect its own security”. It’s should be noted that Turkish troops operate in Syria without a mandate from the UN Security Council or authorization from the Syrian government. However, Kaynak said:

“Afrin has become a threat to the security of Turkey. … In the past, most of the terrorists infiltrated into Turkey from this area and provided weapons to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party]. That is why Afrin must be cleared from terrorists.”

Turkey  designates the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as well as its military wings, the YPG / YPJ as terrorist organizations, allied and on par with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). The PYD as well as the YPG/YPJ for their part, blame Turkey of invading their territory and of supporting “gangs”, including Islamist terrorist groups who are fighting under the “fig-leaf” banner of the Free Syrian Army.

However, Kaynak also said that the Turkish military has to set up a military base in al-Bab, about 90 kilometers southeast of Afrin, to secure areas that came under the control of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels as part of its Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria that concluded in March, after it captured several areas, including Jarablus, al-Bab, and Dabiq, all located in northern Syria from the ISIS militants over several months.

The establishment of a Kurdish State with breathing straw access to the Mediterranean. Map plottings by Major (r) Agha H. Amin. (2012)

The establishment of a Kurdish State with breathing straw access to the Mediterranean. Map plottings by Major (r) Agha H. Amin. (2012)

Local sources linked to the YPG, however, reported to nsnbc during the al-Bab operation, that the YPG/YPJ had already dislodged most of the ISIS fighters from al-Bab when Turkey launched its invasion to -allegedly- liberate the city from ISIS, thus actually displacing YPG and YPJ units there.

That said, Deputy Prime Minister Kaynak stressed that the above-mentioned Turkish military base in al-Bab Turkish is part of so-called de-escalation zones to be set up by Russia, Turkey, and Iran in different parts of the country, per an agreement reached in the Kazakh capital of Astana earlier this year with the eventual goal of stopping the six-year civil war that has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people.

Mohamed Jamil, a co-chair of the human rights office in Afrin, told the YPG-affiliated media that Turkey does not respect international law. “Turkey does not recognize the human rights, morale values, and good neighborliness,” Jamil said, accusing Ankara of conducting a “scorched earth” strategy in northern Syrian since the beginning of the Syrian civil war about six years ago.

A statement from the Afrin foreign affairs office announced that while they are capable of fighting back against the Turkish troops, but that “they do not wish to open a new war front” as their priority is to drive out the ISIS militants in Raqqa. The statement called on Turkey to withdraw from the northern Syria to save lives and asked the international community to prevent the Turkish intervention in Afrin.

Kurds currently have three self-administered cantons located along Syria’s northwestern border with Turkey, collectively known as Rojava or officially called the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. Afrin canton in the west is separated from the eastern cantons of Kobane and Cizre by a 100 kilometre-long stretch that is now under control of Turkey and its allied militias. The lands between Afrin and Kobane cantons are demographically mixed.

CH/L – nsnbc 06.07.2017

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