Kurds living in Greece call for international intervention in Afrin during a protest in front of EU offices in Athens last week. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurds in Rojava are pursuing diplomatic channels to end “violations” in Afrin as reports of looting, demographic change, and abuse of the local population continue to come out of the canton under control of Turkish forces and their Syrian allies.
“Of course, one of our main fears are the incidents – in addition to the violations in Afrin – is the demographic change in Afrin, therefore we keep meeting representatives of the international community, the representative of the UN, and the Security Council,” Hawas Agid, a member of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS), told Rudaw from Istanbul.
ENKS, an opposition group in Rojava, is a member of the Syrian National Coalition, an opposition umbrella group supported by Turkey.
Agid said that they “hand over” information on anything new that occurs in the region, including reports that Syrian militias have entered people’s homes in Afrin and are preventing families from returning to their villages. He also said that fighters have raped women.
“This is something which is far from socially moral,” he said, adding that they have informed Turkey about such reports
The ruling coalition in Rojava, TEV-DEM, is also engaged in diplomatic efforts for Afrin. Co-leader Aldar Khalil said that they have increased their diplomatic efforts in an interview with ANF media.
Related: ENKS urges int'l protection for Afrin, condemning PYD policy
"[Turkish President] Erdogan faces tough times. For example, Afrin's invasion won't be as he wants. In the short-term, he can occupy Afrin, but in the long-term, there are difficult days ahead. His actions will have grave consequences,” Khalil said.
Turkey considers the main Kurdish groups in Rojava, the armed YPG/YPJ and the political party PYD, to be branches of the PKK, a named terror organization. Turkish forces, backing Syrian militias, launched a military campaign against Afrin canton on January 20, framing it as a counter-terror operation.
Turkey declared they had control of the canton two months later. The YPG announced it would continue to fight the Turkish forces and Syrian militias, launching a guerrilla-style campaign.
More than 137,000 civilians remain displaced from Afrin and another 50,000 to 70,000 are estimated to have remained in Afrin city, according to UN figures.
Nearly a month after military operations finished, Khalil said that three quarters of the population are displaced from their homes. “This proves that there is oppression,” he said, vowing that they will continue resistance operations at home and abroad.
Related: Turkish-backed interim council elected in Afrin: state media
On the ground in northern Syria, the Kurdish forces are allied with the US-led coalition in the war against ISIS. Kurdish leaders have also met with European officials, including French President Emmanuel Macron.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denied they seek to “occupy” Afrin, saying the plan is to hand the region over to its “real owners.”