Syrian civilians fleeing Afrin on March 13, 2018. Photo: AFP / Nazeer al-Khatib
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Shahoz Hassan, co-preisdent of the Executive Body of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), told Rudaw on Thursday that Turkey is bringing in pro-Turkish civilians in a bid to “change the demography of Afrin.”
“They bring in some civilians, who are affiliated to them, and place them in those villages. They rush in this regard so that they make demographic change a reality.”
Hassan stressed that Afrin people will not surrender to Turkish aggression.
“There is a fact: Afrin people will not abandon even if a day is left … the resistance will continue until it is liberated.”
Aldar Khalil, head of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)’s foreign relations department, told Reuters on Tuesday that Turkey is conducting a policy of “demographic change.”
“The Turkish government is settling Turkmen and Arab families in the villages of Afrin that it occupied after forcing out its people
and is distributing the belongings of the people of Afrin to the new settlers,” he said in a written message to the news wire.
An unnamed senior Turkish official sent a written letter to Reuters flatly denying the “false” accusation.
“The claim that Arabs and Turkmen are being placed in Afrin is absolutely false ... A transfer of population to that region to change the demographic structure is out of the question,” he said, Reuters reports.
Operation Olive Branch, launched by the Turkish army and its Syrian proxies, began on January 20 in a bid to clear the Turkish-Syrian borders of People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, which Turkey consider an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
Turkey claims to have encircled the town center of Afrin.