Turkish Army Attacks on Syrian-Kurdish enclave of Afrin

Society for Threatened Peoples Press Release:

Society for Threatened Peoples accuses Erdogan of serious violations of international law 

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accuses the Turkish government of serious violations of international law in connection with the attacks on the Syrian-Kurdish enclave of Afrin. “There has been no provocation by the administration in Afrin,” said the STP’s Middle East expert, Kamal Sido, in Göttingen on Friday. “Nonetheless, the Turkish military is carrying out artillery and rocket launcher attacks on several villages since last night. The following towns and villages are affected: Shaykh al Hadid (Shiye) Derbalout, Hammam, Freriye, Sanare, and Qarmitlike. Also, the center of the Afrin region – which has declared autonomy – has apparently been shelled. At least four civilians lost their lives, and seven people were wounded.”

This information was confirmed by phone-calls with the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as well as with friends and informants of the STP. “During the night, people had to escape to more secure areas. They were afraid to be hit by bombs or missiles,” reported a 60-year-old Kurd from the village of Shaykh al Hadid (Shiye) in a phone-call with the STP’s Middle East consultant. Sido’s mother and siblings are living in Afrin as well.

The Turkish government is justifying its actions by accusing the Syrian Kurdish militias of attacking Turkish positions and of having carried out the bomb attacks in Ankara on Wednesday. The Kurdish side has denied these allegations. The Kurdish parties and militias in Syria condemned the attacks as “cowardly terrorist assaults”.
Since 2012, the civilian population in Afrin has been living in fear of radical Islamist groups such as the Al Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham, Jaish Al Islam, Jaish Al Mujahideen and the “Islamic State” (IS), who carry out attacks and block the access roads between the enclave and Aleppo, the capital of the province. The Islamist groups have repeatedly abducted civilians. The STP criticized that Turkey has been protecting the Islamists since 2012. “Now, however, the Turkish military is directly involved in the violence and is terrorizing the civilian population. Many people would prefer to stay in Afrin, but they are forced to flee to Germany or other European countries due to the massive bombing.”

“The aim of the Turkish government is to prevent the emergence of a Kurdish autonomous region in northern Syria, if necessary by invading the region,” warns Sido. The majority of the Kurds and other minorities such as the Assyrians/Arameans, Christians, Yazidis, Alawites, Druze, Ismailis and Shiites are strictly against Turkey’s political and military involvement in Syria. The Turkish government primarily supports the radical Islamist groups in Syria – not the secular opposition which is trying to build up a democratic Syria after Assad’s dictatorship.

Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East consultant, is available for further questions:

E-Mail: nahost@gfbv.dewww.gfbv.de

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