Weekly Bulletin about Developments in Afrin and Northern Syria (08.06.2018 – 14.06.2018)

By | June 15, 2018

The Developments in Afrin and Northern Syria 8th to 14th of June, 2018

Introduction

With the defeat of IS in Syria and especially after the liberation of Raqqa in October 2017, the Turkish state intensified its threats and attacks on the Democratic Confederation of Northern Syria. On this background the Turkish occupation war on Afrin started on the 20th January 2018 violated international law and the sovereignty of its neighbour country. The Turkish army has launched this war in cooperation with jihadist groups among the FSA ranks. Many of them are former Al-Qaida or IS members. Since the beginning of March, all districts and the city centre of Afrin had been under heavy bombardments, shelling and drone surveillance by the Turkish army targeting especially civilians. On March 18th more than 200,000 people left the town centre which was evacuated in order to avoid a physical genocide. Since then the majority of refugees is staying in the Shehba region without security guarantee nor international support.

In this new phase, the confrontation between the international powers and their interests is increasing all over Syria.

Last week’s Developments inside Afrin

After 144 days of resistance against the second biggest army of the NATO, hundreds of people from Afrin Canton are still displaced and are facing difficult conditions. The Turkish army and its FSA allies are implementing ethnic cleansing, assimilation and colonisation policies, preventing the population from return to their villages and continuing preparations for absorbing the region of Afrin into Turkey’s state territory. The resistance of YPG-YPJ forces in the all districts in Afrin carries on, as well as the resistance of the displaced people from Afrin in Shehba Canton.

Afrin

In last week the Turkish authorities with the collaboration of Turkish backed jihadist groups have launched a campaign of massive detention in the districts of Rajo, Shiye and Afrin city centre, all of the people arrested were brought to an unknown places. Also the night of the 9th, Turkish police carried out raid operations against civilians houses and shops in the districts of Rajo and Jinderse [1]. According to Afrin Activist account the militia groups have arrested several people in Qastal Kishak Village of Sharran town [2]. A reliable source told ANHA agency that the Turkish forces kidnapped five civilians from Kabashin village of Sherawa district in Afrin canton. The same source says that for the liberation of the adducted, the soldiers are asking the families to pay a ransom of 1,000 US dollars per person [3].

The repression still continue against the people who were participating actively in the Democratic Self-administration during the last seven years. In Afrin city centre the houses of an active member on politics, Jahid Agha Rubari, was destroyed by the militias groups with the help of the Turkish intelligence forces. He and his family have been threaten [4]. Also according to Afrin Activist, the founder member of the group Afrin Media Centre, Salah al-Safi, who tries to denounces the human violations and abuses of the Turkish army and their backed army factions inside the Afrin canton, has been arrested in the past 10th of June [5].

Heavy clashes, even with heavy weapons, between the Sultan Mohammed Al-Fateh Brigade and Ahrar Al-Sharqiya in the center of Afrin city. At the first moment, the Turkish authorities failed to stop the clashes between the two sides that have happened in the city centre square, Azadî Square. Five persons were killed as consequence of the clashes, among them were two civilians, ten persons were also wounded [6].

Sources close to the network of activists Afrin revealed the presence of Massoud Ibo (Abu al-Majd Kumla) inside a prison in the Turkish city of Entebbe, a week after his arrest by Turkish intelligence. The sources also confirm that Ibo´s family had submitted a request to the Turkish General Prosecution to visit him, but was refused because the investigation period has not completed. The Turkish intelligence agency appointed Ibo as the head of the intelligence service in Afrin before arresting him for leaking information [7].

The forces of Wrath of Olives in Afrin today eliminated Ehmed Misto, who went by the nickname Abu Aslan al-Kurdi, a commander of the jihadist group of al-Jabha al-Shamiya, in the centre of the Shiye district in Afrin canton [8]. 

A faction of the “Olive Branch” operation expelled some displaced families in Afrin that were paying rent to the Kurdish owners of their houses. Hundreds of families prepare themselves to return to the Eastern Ghouta [9].

Shehba and Northern Syria

The commander of the Manbij Military Council, Mohammed Abu Adel, has said in an interview that “Our forces will not allow any external force to enter Manbij”, after the threats launched by Turkish state government. Abu Adel remembered that it was the YPG forces who defeat the Islamic State in Manbij, and afterwards trained the actual Manbij Military Forces, but now the YPG/YPJ forces had withdraw and only “Advisers of People Protection Units remained to train the forces of Manbij Military Council and now the fighters receive training from the International Coalition forces” [10].

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ended the first week of the campaign to liberate Al-Dashisha town in Al-Hasaka countryside with field progress on both the eastern and western fighting axis, according to the plan prepared by the operations room to inflict heavy losses on Daesh rows. SDF were able to advance 9 km in the eastern axis and 13 km in the westerns axis. Until the 11th of June SDF has liberated 12 village and 15 farms also [11].

Afrin people in Tel Qerah village denounced the Turkish army’s practices, and they called on the international community to provide aid and assistance to the Afrin residents to return to their homes and land. The statement that was issued by the people was read by the member of the Democratic Society Education Committee Alia Abdu in Kurdish, and the member of the council of Tel Qerah village Mohammed Bako in Arabic [12].

On Friday 8, a land mine that was left by the Turkish-backed forces in Tel Rifat district, al-Shahba canton exploded on a displaced family from Rajo district. That resulted in 4 members of the family martyred and wounded 4 others with significant injuries [13].

A Turkish university said on Wednesday 6th, it would open a campus in one of the northern Syrian regions under the control of Turkey’s military and its Syrian rebel allies, deepening Ankara’s role in an area that it has held for nearly two years, demonstrating that the occupation has a long term perspective as a stable occupation in the neighbour country [14].

Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran

The statement of the ‘Movement for the Liberation Idlib and Afrin’, clarifies the intention to liberate Afrin and Idlib and build up a true civil council there and to make Syria a liveable place again to allow all Syrian refugees all over the world to come home to their country.

Italian soldiers have been sent to Syria’s Deir ez-Zor to support the Syrian Kurdish forces in the war against Islamic State (IS), said the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency. The number of Italian troops remains unknown, but they are believed to have not been engaged in any military operation up until now [15].

Islamic State has executed thirty of its members in a region near Syrian border with Iraq, a paramilitary leader in Anbar said on Tuesday. Qutri al-Samarmad, a leader with tribal mobilization forces in Anbar, said “information from intelligence and eyewitnesses from Syrian regions said Islamic State executed thirty of its members in Hegeen region in Syria, near al-Bu Kamal town on border with Iraq from the side of Qaim town in Anbar” [16].

Turkey completed construction of the massive wall they built along the Syrian border, Turkish officials announced on Saturday 9th. According to the Turkish officials, the new wall stretches an estimated 764 kilometers (475 miles) along the Syrian-Turkish border [17].

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country is ready to attack northern Iraq if the Iraqi central government does not take action against Kurdish militant groups there. A military action would be carried out including Sinjar and Makhmur as well, he added. Turkish military forces have regularly crossed the border with Iraq, without public legal permision from the Iraqi goverment, to carry out operations against positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the mountainous Qandil region, located roughly 40 kilometers southeast of the Turkish border in Iraq’s Erbil province [18]. Also Iran has voiced support for a potential Turkish operation against Kurdish forces just over its border in northern Iraq, Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Tuesday [19].

Nationalist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Iranian-backed militia chief Hadi al-Amiri, who won first and second place respectively in Iraq’s parliamentary election in May, announced on Tuesday an alliance between their political blocs. This move announced from the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf is the first serious step towards forming a new government after weeks of negotiations between parties [20].

The AKP-MHP regime has increased pressure and attack against the HDP. According to the report wrote by the HDP, in the last 45 days at least 208 HDP members have been detained due to the party’s key role in the elections, 16 HDP members jailed and at least 57 attacks against various party offices within the same time frame [21].

Solidarity for Afrin

The congress of ARCI, an important cultural and solidarity projects association in Italy (formerly the Communist Party of Italy cultural association) has approved a motion in support of Rojava [22].

Séamas Carraher a working class poet and writer born on the southside of Dublin, Ireland, has written and published a poem for the Afrin’s people. Carraher has been writing extensively about Rojava and Kurdistan in the past three years and he has dedicated more than one poetic work to the Kurds [23].

Statements and analysis

.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on Wednesday they will not abandon the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) despite the US deal with Turkey regarding Manbij [24]the US will stay in northern Syria, even after IS is defeated [25].

Al-Bab Military Council issued a statement confirming the rejection of any presence of the Turkish occupation in al-Bab city or any other Syrian city. The council called on the international community and countries active in the Syrian affairs to put pressure on the Turkish to withdraw from al-Bab and the Syrian north and to help people displaced by the violations of Turkey and its mercenaries to return [26]. Also the Jarablus Military Council in a statement issued on Monday 11, condemned the daily violations committed by the Turkish-backed groups in Jarablus city, and also called on the international community to put pressure on the Turkish state to withdraw from Jarablus and all the Syrian cities that it occupies [27].

Elham Ahmed, co-chair of the of Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), confirmed that the SDC is fully prepared for dialogue and starting to have direct negotiations with the Syrian regime if the latter is already ready to initiate such a step [28].

In the early morning hours of the past wednesday 13 of June, offices of the Democratic Kurdish Society Center (NAV-DEM) and Kurdish Center for Public Relations Civaka Azad on Residenzstrasse in Berlin were raided by the German police. At the same time, the private apartments of at least five persons who are board members of NAV-DEM Berlin were searched. NAV-DEM condemns raids on Kurdish institutions in Berlin and call on German government to stop giving in to Turkish pressure [29].

Sources and further informations

[1] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1005413961964060673

[2] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1005791706854445057

[3] https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/turkish-occupation-kidnaps-civilians-forces-them-to-pay-ransom-h1936.html

[4] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1005095053671444482

[5] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1005779260794077184

[6] https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/infighting-between-turkish-backed-militants-in-syrias-afrin-kills-several/

[7] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1005933816991580161

[8] https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/wrath-of-olives-eliminated-mercenary-ahmed-mesto-h1910.html

[9] http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=95084

[10] https://kurddaily.com/inde.php/2018/06/09/abu-adel-our-forces-will-not-allow-any-external-force-to-enter-manbij/

[11] https://sdf-press.com/en/2018/06/in-the-first-week-liberation-of-12-villages-and-15-farms/

[12] https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/afrin-refugees-in-tel-qerah-denounced-turkish-practices-h1944.html

[13] https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/mine-blasted-in-tel-rifat-left-6-victims-h1909.html

[14] https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-turkey-syria-universit/turkish-university-to-open-campus-in-northern-syria-idUKKCN1J224Y

[15] https://defence.az/en/news/128027

[16] https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/islamic-state-executes-30-members-in-syria-near-borders-with-iraq/

[17] https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/turkey-completes-construction-of-massive-border-wall/

[18] https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/06/08/564275/Turkey-Erdogan-Iraq-PKK-YPG-Qandil-Sinjar-Makhmur

[19] https://theregion.org/article/13634-iran-supports-attack-on-qandil-mountains-turkish-defense-minister

[20] https://theregion.org/article/13633-iraq-039-s-sadr-amiri-announce-political-alliance

[21] https://anfenglish.com/news/hdp-report-over-200-detentions-a-attacks-in-45-days-27384

[22] https://anfenglish.com/news/italian-association-arci-pledges-to-support-kurds-in-rojava-27396

[23] https://anfenglish.com/features/irish-poet-writes-poem-for-the-people-of-afrin-27386

[24] https://theregion.org/article/13603-us-defense-secretary-mattis-say-they-will-not-drop-support-for-sdf

[25] https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1545079/press-conference-by-secretary-mattis-at-the-nato-defense-ministerial-brussels-b/source/GovDelivery/

[26] https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/al-bab-military-council-condemned-turkeys-occupation-practices-h1927.html

[27] https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/jrablos-military-council-commented-on-turkish-violations-h1946.html

[28] https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/elham-ahmed-we-are-fully-prepared-for-direct-negotiations-with-regime-h1938.html

[29] https://anfenglish.com/news/nav-dem-condemns-raids-on-kurdish-institutions-in-berlin-27415

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