Weekly Bulletin about Developments in Afrin and Northern Syria (15.06.2018 – 21.06.2018)

By | June 22, 2018

The Developments in Afrin and Northern Syria 8th to 21th 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 151 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

The situation of threat loot, physical and psychological abuse still continue among the population in Afrin’s canton by the jihadists factions supported by the Turkish State. The people of the village of Khalilakha in Bilbili district are being subjected brutal practices of beating, torture and humiliation by the backed-Turkish factions and are under a daily blackmail. The last civilian to be tortured and severely beaten was Muhammad Ibrahim, nicknamed Muhammad Isah, by members of the Sultan Murad faction because he was unable to pay the ransom of over $ 50,000. The victim was taken to a medical center in Afrin, in a very bad health condition [1].

A reliable sources of Afrin Activist said that backed-Turkish groups forcibly robbed the residents of the village of Bassli in Afrin, more than 250 sheep in broad daylight after the live shooting in the village. This is the second time such thefts are carried out in this village [2]. Also in the gunmen of the Amushat faction who are following the Sulaiman Shah troops stole the equipment of a olive mill and 5,000 cans of olive oil which belonging to the Haidar Mamo family in the village of gunde-Xelîl in Shiha [3].

Afrin Activist publish a list with the names of people who have been kidnapped and tortured by the yihadists factions supported by Turkish army. A number of Kurdish citizens in Basuta and in Sherawa district have been the objetive of this abuses in Afrin’s canton [4]. The fate of Aziz Siddo Mohammed, 60 years old man, remains unknown two months after he was kidnapped by the armed faction of FSA. According to Afrin Activist, Aziz Mohammed was taking to a prison in the area of Maabtli [5].

According to Afrin Media Center in Ain Hajar village, in the Mabata district, a group of backed-Turkish army faction expeled the families of (J.S) and (M.S) from their houses and replaced them with citizens of Ghouta [6].

The Sennara village’s people appeal the human rights organizations to stop the destruction of their ancestral cemetery, which is go back to more than two hundred and fifty years old [7].

The 13th of June the forces of YPG and YPJ target several points of the Turkish-backed forces. In the road between the villages of Qimara and Barada, a military vehicle beloing to the group Firqat al Hamzah was target with the resulted on three militans death and the destroction of the vehicle. The morning of the same day also was targget a military vehicle of the Turkish army in the villages of Khaltah, in Afrin city center. Also as a result of the operations in the civinity of the Khalidiyyah village at least 12 yihadist and one Turkish soldier were killed, and two military vehicles were destroyed [8].

The UN office for the Cordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria has published a dossier about the humanitarian crisis in Afrin canton due the invasion and illegal occupation of the Turkish army and their allies of the FSA and the hard situation for the displaced people in the Shehba region [9].

Also conditions of freedom for women has been worsened. The FSA group Ahrar al-Sharqiya is trying to encourage more modest dress in Afrin canton. Across the city of Afrin, posters have been erected instructing women to take the Islamic veil and wear modest clothing, a shock for many residents for whom such religious conservatism is a departure from Afrin’s more secular tradition. The posters sparked angry street protests by Kurds, who are mostly Muslim but have a secular tradition and have remained in Afrin since the invasion by the Turkish army and Syrian militiamen, often members of jihadi groups [10] [11].

Shehba and Northern Syria

The Rationalization and Economy Committee of the Self-administration in Shehba region has presented 123 loans to the displaced people of Afrin, while studying a thousand applications to them, in a move to reduce unemployment and provide employment opportunities for people who had enforced to get out of the canton because of the attacks of the Turkish army [12].

After the threaten of the Turkish government and the illegal intervention of the Turkish patrol in the outskirts of Manbij city centre many disinformation have been split out with the intention of scary the population and provocation a chaos situation among the population and military forces. The information between the two allies of NATO are contradictory. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “Our forces have begun military patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij and will enter the town step by step, 190 Turkish troops are deployed” [13] and Sea Ryan, spokesperson of the Coalition said about the Turkish forces in Manbij: “They’re independent coordinations, they’re not joint patrols,” “Manbij military council is in control of all the area” and added “I can tell you that Turkish soldiers will not go into Manbij” [14]. Also Syria regimen expresses its strong condemnation and absolute rejection of the incursion of Turkish and American forces in the vicinity of Manbij, which comes in the context of continued Turkish and American aggression [15]. The population of Manbij city and the surrounding villages went to the street to show their rejection of a possible invasion of the Turkish army in the region. In this demonstration other Arab population from the region of Raqqa and Tabqa also join to give support to their people against the Turkish threat [16].

In the context of Jazeera Storm Operation in Deir Ezzor against the Islamic State, SDF forces has announced the liberation of the town of Dashishah and also cleared the Abu Mousab gas station, 3 kilometres away from Dashishah town. Move over the SDF fighters entered in the town of Naserah (2 km east of Dashishah) and were within 3 km of the Syrian-Iraqi border [17].

Russian Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said following a meeting of the guarantor countries of the Syrian ceasefire (Russia, Iran and Turkey) held in Geneva. “There will be Kurdish members of the opposition and government delegation, as well as civil society members.” Scepticism: Representatives of what? “We [call] for refraining from attempts to divide the Kurds into pro-Turkish, pro-Syrian ones and those associated with the People’s Protection Units and the Democratic Union Party that Ankara views negatively” [18].

Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran

In Bashur Kurdistan (Iraq) Turkish state has launched a operation against the forces of PKK in the mountains of Qandil. For this they have entered 30 kilometres in the territory of Iraq without the consent of the Iraq government. In the operation Turkish army has deployed 30.000 soldiers and is bombing the mountains and villages of northern Iraq with heavy weapon and war planes [19]. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked for support of the operation to Iran state, but in a statement issued last week, Iranian military spokesman Gen. Abulfazil Shekarchi also denied Turkish suggestions that Iran was considering mounting joint operations with Turkey against the PKK in Iraq [20].

Statements and analysis

A bipartisan letter postmarked 15 June sponsored by 44 members of the US House of Representatives called on the US government to prevent the delivery of F-35s to Turkey, expressing no confidence that Turkey will use the F-35s responsibly, and could target Kurds. The letter had its effect since the US Senate on Monday blocked the delivery of the F-35s, but Turkey says they will still be delivered on time [21].

Sources and further informations

[1] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1007706429866770433

[2] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1008346679664312320

[3] https://twitter.com/nre6172/status/1009174428129923075

[4] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1009368050737532929

[5] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1008381875604291584

[6] https://twitter.com/afrinactivists/status/1009103304633278464

[7] https://twitter.com/nre6172/status/1009321164840341504

[8] http://sdf-press.com/en/2018/06/15-soldiers-and-mercenaries-killed-in-afrin/

[9] https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/20180615_afrin_update.pdf

[10] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/culture-clash-campaign-syrias-liberal-afrin-tells-women-cover-328145705

[11] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/kurdish-woman-hijab-protest-turkey-militia-force-a8399206.html

[12] https://www.hawarnews.com/en/haber/investment-projects-to-provide-work-opportunities-in-al-shahba-h2042.html

[13] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/turkish-forces-patrols-syria-manbij-180618135536167.html

[14] http://theregion.org/article/13685-us-army-spokesperson-manbij-military-council-will-remain-manbij-turkish-soldiers-won-039-t-go

[15] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-turkey/syria-condemns-turkish-u-s-presence-around-manbij-idUSKBN1JF1H0

[16] https://anfenglishmobile.com/news/people-of-manbij-rallied-to-say-no-to-turkish-occupation-27576

[17] http://sdf-press.com/en/2018/06/sdf-liberate-the-town-of-dashishah-and-reach-3-km-from-the-iraqi-border/

[18] http://tass.com/politics/1010195

[19] https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/06/iran-coy-support-turkey-assault-pkk-iraq.html

[20] https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/06/turkey-iran-qandil-operation-fuels-resentment.html

[21] http://theregion.org/article/13683-senators-worried-about-turkey-using-f-35s-against-us-backed-kurds-succesfully-block-delivery