YPG and YPJ fighters carry out a military ceremony in Kobane. Photo: PYD
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kurdish militia who have fought off ISIS since 2014 are not satisfied with global silence as mounting Turkish aggression threatens to destabilize Afrin in northwest Syria.
“A call to the international community to support Afrin and pressure on Turkey to stop its attacks and put an end to the Turkish violations and especially our international allies to fight terrorism”, tweeted Hediye Yusuf, a founding member of the self-declared Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, on Monday.
She claimed that Afrin canton has been effectively suffering besiegement for more than four years. Turkish forces shelled Afrin villages on Sunday with mortars and Katyusha rockets, according to YPG-linked ANHA.
“[T]he international silence isn’t suitable to humanitarian situation,” wrote Yusuf in a separate Tweet, “despite its active role in the fight against terrorism.”
Yusuf is a member of Democratic Union Party (PYD). Its armed wing is the mostly-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). They form the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the main partnered ground force in northern Syria or Rojava, for the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition.
Russia has also been a strong supporter of the YPG in Afrin.
YPG spokesperson Rojhat Roj told Associated Press that Turkey regularly bombards Afrin, but Saturday’s shelling was different because it was intensive and lasted for a longer time.
"By attacking Afrin, the AKP government wants to guarantee its invasion of Syria and impose [its authority] on the international community,” wrote Yusuf in another Tweet on Monday.
AKP (Justice and Development Party) is the ruling party in Turkey. Afrin sits on Turkey’s southwestern border. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is banned and listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara and the United States. The PKK has fought a three-decade-long struggle against the Turkish in their quest for greater cultural and political rights for minorities like Kurds and Alawites.
Ankara conflates the YPG with the PKK. The YPG denies any organic links to the PKK.
“The threats of Turks will pave the way for [the formation of] a new military and political process and the defeated party will be AKP,” added Yusuf. “They do not realize that Mount Kurmenj and Kurdish heroes are on front of them."
Yusuf also claimed Turkey is the main supporter of terrorism represented by ISIS and al-Nusra front. Ankara denies supporting these groups, and only says it supports the Free Syrian Army against ISIS in Syria.
Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation began in August 2016 and ended in March 2017, ousting ISIS from areas north of Aleppo, around Jarablus and al-Bab, near Manbij, and preventing Kurdish advances.
The PKK is known to be active in the southern border provinces of Turkey.
Turkish officials repeatedly have said they will not allow a “terror corridor” on its borders and would carry out a military offensive in northern Syria to prevent Kurdish advances.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “despite it all” he wants to work with the U.S. in the region and hopes it will not side with the YPG during the upcoming Afrin operation.
“We expect (the US) to support Turkey in its legitimate efforts” to combat terror, said Erdogan on Sunday.
Ankara has received domestic and international criticism about Afrin.
Ayhan Bilgen spokesperson for the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey labelled Ankara’s move as stupidity.
“The intolerance on Afrin is the outpouring of the stupidity of [those] who govern this area [Turkey],” said Bilgen, adding that as if there is no other threat on the Turkish community, the Turkish government is focusing on those forces who are outside Turkish borders [YPG] and who have not attacked Turkey and are not a threat to it, reported Haberdar a Turkish outlet.