Kurds Under Attack

Turkey’s Dictator Oppressing Kurds

I had about ten Kurdish friends on facebook. Now, they are gone. How many have been arrested by Erdogan ‘The Evil’ who ordered his bodyguards to attack protestors in our American streets.

Turkish jet fighters hit the People's Protection Units (YPG) positions on the Syrian side of the border at Hassa in Hatay on 20 January 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Turkish war planes hit Kurdish positions on the Syrian side of the border on Saturday

Turkish war planes have launched air strikes on Kurdish positions in northern Syria, in a move likely to cause tensions with the US.

Turkey wants to oust these Kurdish fighters from Syria’s Afrin region, which lies near its southern border.

It considers them a terrorist group. But some were US allies in the battle against the Islamic State group.

Turkey had been shelling the area for two days, ahead of its declaration of a military operation on Saturday.

Russia – a key military figure in the region – says it is concerned by the development, and has relocated some of its troops based in the region. Officials earlier said Moscow would not interfere in the conflict.

Syria has previously warned against any operation and said it would shoot down Turkish planes.

Why is Turkey’s president threatening US-backed groups?

The Kurdish YPG (Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units) has been a key part of the battle against the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, and has been backed by the United States.

Turkey, however, believes the group has links to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and has for several months been threatening to clear Kurdish fighters from Afrin and another city, Manbij, which lies 100km away. The Kurds have held Afrin since 2012.

Turkey’s military plans seem to have been accelerated by an announcement from the US that it will help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an alliance against IS of which the YPG is a member – build a new “border security force” to prevent the return of IS.

The YPG and SDF deny any terrorist links – a claim backed by the US government.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the border force a “terror army”.

President Erdogan raises a hand during a speech last week Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Erdogan claimed several Kurdish groups had terrorist links – something the US-backed groups deny

Disagreement over the Kurdish fighters has created a sharp division between the Nato allies.

The US state department has appealed for calm, and attempted to downplay portrayals of a new “border force”, instead characterising the new development as security training.

“We do not believe that a military operation… serves the cause of regional stability, Syrian stability, or indeed Turkish concerns about the security of their border,” it said.

What is happening in Afrin?

On Saturday, the Turkish army announced that a new campaign, dubbed “Olive Branch”, had launched at 14:00 GMT, targeting the YPG and IS jihadists.

The operation would be carried out “with respect for Syria’s territorial integrity”, it added.

Pro-Turkey rebels, known as the Free Syrian Army, also began moving into the area, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

A spokesperson for the YPG told Reuters a number of people had been injured in the strikes so far, but it is not yet clear how many.

Turkey’s military has been shelling the area since Thursday, a move which it said was in response to fire coming from the area.

On Saturday, the SDF accused Turkey of using the bombardment as a smokescreen ahead of launching an offensive. A spokesperson for the group told Reuters news agency that it would have no choice but to defend itself if attacked.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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