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Kurds near Turkey border dread fresh offensive

By AFP 8/11/2018
Chimo Osman, 38, stands with children in the countryside village of Ashma near the border with Turkey in the Kurdish city of Kobane in northern Syria on November 8, 2018. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP
Chimo Osman, 38, stands with children in the countryside village of Ashma near the border with Turkey in the Kurdish city of Kobane in northern Syria on November 8, 2018. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP
By Delil Souleiman

ASHMA, Syria - Chimo Osman's children stopped going to school after Turkish shelling struck his home in northeastern Syria, where Kurdish residents fear another military onslaught is imminent.

In recent days, cross-border Turkish artillery fire has targeted positions held by the People's Protection Units (YPG), the main Kurdish militia in Syria.

Ankara sees the de-facto autonomous rule set up by Syrian Kurds as an encouragement to the separatists of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has close ties to the YPG.

The village of Ashma is nestled in olive groves in the region of Kobane and directly looks out onto the Turkish flags and wire fencing that mark the demarcation line.

The streets of this village and others along the border are empty: "We can't even venture on the roof anymore," said Osman.

"We don't leave the house, the kids are scared," said the 38-year-old, standing on the steps leading to his front door, with his five children huddled around him.

Nobody can predict when the Turkish forces stationed on the other side of the border will open fire, he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on October 30 that plans for an assault were complete and vowed to "destroy" the YPG, which he considers a terrorist organisation.

One salvo punched a large hole in the second floor of Osman's house and several other homes in the village were damaged by Turkish fire.

Five YPG fighters and a child have been killed in Turkish shelling that has in recent days mostly targeted Kurdish positions in the Kobane and Tal Abyad areas, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

- 'Injustice' -

The YPG is the backbone of an outfit known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the US-led coalition's main local ally in its battle against the Islamic State group.

To protest against the Turkish attacks, SDF forces late last month announced they were suspending their involvement in military operations against one of the very last jihadist pockets in eastern Syria.

The move was aimed at obtaining guarantees from their US sponsors that Turkey would not seek to move in across the border as they did in the Kurdish-dominated enclave of Afrin earlier this year.

The Free Woman statue stands over Kobane. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP

According to the Britain-based Observatory, more than 330 Kurdish fighters have already perished in the course of the latest offensive against ISIS.

Many fighters waging this deadly battle on jihadists in their remote desert hideouts feel they would rather die protecting their ancestral land from Turkey.

In Kobane cemetery, hundreds of people attended the funeral Tuesday of an SDF fighter who became the latest casualty of the jihadists' bloody last stand in the Hajin region.

Women wept over the coffin as patriotic songs were blared on speakers and local officials gave speeches condemning the Turkish bombardment.

"The Turkish state is hostile to the Kurds and we have to right to respond to any attack," Esmat Sheikh Hassan, a Kobane military official, told AFP at the funeral.

"They don't differentiate between soldiers and civilians. They strike inhabited villages," he said, replying to Ankara's claims its forces only strike military targets.

Hamo Masibkeradi, one of the residents who came to attend the funeral, points to the rows of marble tombstones that mark the graves of fighters who died fighting against ISIS.

"These martyrs fell for humanity. The international community should help us," he said.

"Erdogan wants to wipe us out. The US cannot allow this injustice."


The Kurdish Nike/VICTORY | 8/11/2018
The statue of the wigged Kurdish female fighter in Kobané strikingly recalls the iconic helenistic Wigged Victory (Nike in Greek)in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The Kurdish Wigged Victory statue must become the icon of the Kurdish independence, let's publish it everywhere, let's make it a symbol of the Kurdish victory and inbdependence.It is an accomplished work of Art in every aspect. I salute the unknown artist who created this magnifiscent work of Art unimaginable in our age.Since the Greek statuary of some 2000 years ago we have not seen anything of such a quality in sculpture. May God bless the Kurdish Nation and the talent of the Kurdish artists.
Outsider | 9/11/2018
Is it fair how US closes its eyes against the actions of Turkey? Most-likely not... but YPG should also stop claiming to fight for "humanity" or the international community... they are doing it for themself... at the beginning to establish a YPG run territory. .. now they are fighting to protect "their" oilfields. .. (keeping in mind - in previously predominant Kurdish inhabited areas - THERE IS NO OIL...) Hence, for who are they fighting for?
Azad | 9/11/2018
For PKK it's much more important that their party rules over an area than for that area to stay in Kurdish hands and for kurds to live in peace. This could all be avoided if they would hand over the area to other Kurdish parties who pose no threat to Turkey. But they won't even share power with other Kurdish parties yet alone hand over power to them. They insist on controlling Kurdish areas in Syria all on their own. Not only this but they INSIST on hoisting PKK flags, insignia even portraits of Ocalan all over Rojava and openly adhere to their ideology. What good do Ocalan portraits serve? This is asking for trouble. PKK are very naive. A cult should never be in charge of any kurdish area. They are leading kurds in their areas into very dark ages.
Guest | 9/11/2018
I am disgusted with Erdogan. His actions are sinful, cowardly, and I firmly believe he is a supporter of ISIS. And the people of Turkey do nothing about it, including some Kurdish political parties. Instead of opposing Erdogan the people of Turkey would rather live in fear and be passive to an authoritarian leader who has robbed them of their freedom.

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