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Rudaw

Syria

Turkish-backed interim council elected in Afrin: state media

By Rudaw 12/4/2018
A Turkish-backed Syrian fighter tears down a picture of Abdullah Ocalan north of Afrin during military operations in March. Photo: Nazeer al-Khatib/AFP
A Turkish-backed Syrian fighter tears down a picture of Abdullah Ocalan north of Afrin during military operations in March. Photo: Nazeer al-Khatib/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An interim local council has been elected in Afrin, consisting of 20 “elders from the city” – 11 Kurds, eight Arabs, and one Turkmen, Turkish state media reported. 

The council is headed by a Kurd named Zuhair Haider who, in an interview with Anadolu Agency, expressed his gratitude to Turkey and vowed to “serve” the local citizens.

“We thank Turkey for making this happen. We will serve Afrin people. The Olive Branch region will be a model as Euphrates Shield was,” said Haider.

Turkey and allied Syrian militias took control of the Kurdish canton of Afrin last March after a two-month military campaign named Operation Olive Branch. The cross-border offensive followed Turkey’s 2016 Euphrates Shield operation on areas west of the Euphrates and north of Aleppo. 

An estimated 137,000 civilians are still displaced from Afrin, most living in the Tal Rifaat area where conditions are difficult. Many families are sleeping in the open, restricted from entering regime-held territory in Aleppo and unable to return to their homes. 

An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people have remained in Afrin city. 

Haider called on people to return to their homes.  “If all Afrin people return, we could hold a more democratic election,” he said. 

Members of the Turkish-backed council must be from Afrin and live in the canton. 

“We will govern ourselves, not those who come from Qandil or elsewhere,” Haider added, referring to the Kurdistan Region headquarters of the PKK. 

Afrin is the western-most canton of the self-autonomous Northern Syrian Federation, known as Rojava. Turkey considers the ruling Rojava party, the PYD, and the armed YPG/YPJ to be branches of the PKK, a named terror group. Ankara framed its military operation in Afrin as counter-terrorism.

The Kurdish groups deny the charge and have accused Turkey of trying to change the demography of Afrin. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has urged Turkey to hand Afrin over to Damascus – a move Ankara has flatly rejected. 

“We will give Afrin back to its inhabitants when the time comes, but we will determine the time, not Mr. Lavrov,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

The newly-elected head of the council explained that the body was formed under the umbrella of the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and is affiliated with Aleppo’s local council.

Abdulrahman Mustafa, deputy head of SNC, vowed to restore basic services to the canton. 

“Turkey is trying to prevent the division of Syria. We have same priorities as Turkey,” he said, adding, “The interim council will soon resume health and education services.”

Eight people were also elected as members of an executive board.

The Kurdish forces have vowed to continue to fight Turkey in Afrin, carrying out guerilla-style attacks on Turkish troops and Syrian militias. 

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pre-Boomer Marine brat | 12/4/2018
Lavrov cannot say that he did not know Russia was dancing with the devil regarding Afrin.
kurt basar | 12/4/2018
yes, they have and Turkish terror state goons forced Kurdish children to praise the Imam Erdogan in Turkish while 120.000 Kurd's, who are from the Afrin city prevented to return their homes, and very soon we are going to see the Muslim brotherhood/ ISIL cutthroats state in Syria with blessing of the Islamic Turkey. God help the Kurd's, who are under attack by the Turkish terror state Islamic thugs worldwide and getting killed daily with the cruel & immoral Turkish ethnic cleansing, with blessing of the civilized western nations.
Peter | 13/4/2018
It's not a "local council" at all, it's Turkish, and a result of the ethnic cleansing of Afrin's inhabitants, and the genocidal attack against Afrin's real local council, perpetrated by the Turkish army allied with elements of ISIS and al Qaeda.
kurt basars daddy | 13/4/2018
Kurti watch and enjoy how Afrin will become a beatiful muslim city. Dont forget you loved trumpi boy and thanks to him we will march to qamishlo. And you will be red and frustated behind your pc:)
Outsider | 14/4/2018
@Peter: I understand that you are upset...but fact is they ALL are born in Afrin...hence they are locals...correctly locals which were forced to leave Afrin because they did not agree with PYD's ideology...kicked out from Afrin at gunpoint by PYD/YPG/KCK... another fact is, as you surely know, that the leadership of YPG (not necessary PYD) are from the PKK...hence "Turkish" Kurds...meaning they ARE NOT LOCAL...

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