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Rudaw

Syria

Evacuated Syrian rebels relocated to Afrin

By Rudaw 20/4/2018
Turkish-backed Syrian rebel police and special forces in Azaz direct buses carrying evacuees from Dumayr. Most of the convoy of 31 buses then headed to Afrin. Photo: Sameer al-Doumy/AFP
Turkish-backed Syrian rebel police and special forces in Azaz direct buses carrying evacuees from Dumayr. Most of the convoy of 31 buses then headed to Afrin. Photo: Sameer al-Doumy/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Fighters and their families evacuated from a rebel-held town northeast of Damascus under an agreement with the regime are reportedly being transferred to Afrin while civilians displaced from the Kurdish canton have come under fire. 

Rebels in Dumayr, northeast of Damascus, began pulling out on Thursday after reaching a deal with Damascus. Syria’s state-run media reported that regime forces entered the town on Thursday and fighters from Jaish al-Islam along with their families were being transported by bus to Jarabulus, which is under control of Turkish-backed rebels. 

About 1,500 fighters and 3,500 family members were being evacuated after turning over their heavy weapons, according to SANA. 

AFP photographed 31 buses carrying some 1,600 evacuees from Dumayr arriving in Azaz, north of Aleppo on Friday. Most of the buses then continued on to Afrin.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the evacuees had "chosen Afrin as their destination."
  


Turkish-backed Syrian rebel police and special forces in Azaz direct buses carrying evacuees from Dumayr. Most of the convoy of 31 buses then headed to Afrin. Photo: Sameer al-Doumy/AFP


This is not the first group of rebel evacuees to be transported to Afrin. The Observatory has documented Turkish efforts to resettle rebel commanders and more than 150 families from Eastern Ghouta. They were being housed in homes left empty by civilians who fled Turkey’s military operation against the Kurdish YPG/YPJ.

The UK-based conflict monitor said earlier this week that the move was opposed by both displaced civilians from Afrin and the rebel groups being brought in. 

Rebels from Eastern Ghouta resented being relocated to Afrin, saying the decision was “imposed by the Turkish authorities on the displaced people of Ghouta, through carrying out an organized demographic change,” according to the Observatory.

Afrin civilians are angry that they are being prevented from returning home.

Kurdish leaders from Rojava, the self-autonomous region of northern Syria that includes Afrin, have accused Turkey of wanting to carry out demographic change in Afrin by forcing the Kurdish population out. 

Ankara has denied the charge and has framed its operation as counter-terrorism, taking the position that the Kurdish forces and political leaders in Rojava are branches of the PKK, a named terror organization. 

An estimated 137,070 people are still displaced from Afrin a month after Turkey and allied Syrian militias took control of the Kurdish canton, ending its two-month military campaign. 

Most are sheltering in the Tal Rifaat area, but are not safe. The area was shelled on Friday, the Observatory reported. 

Explosions were heard in the area that is controlled by the YPG. There was no immediate information of casualties. 

In addition to the insecurity, the families are facing increased health risks. 

“Acute diarrhea, upper respiratory infections, and lice are the most reported communicable diseases among IDPs from Afrin,” the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported this week. 

 


People displaced from Afrin sort through donated clothing in Tal Rifaat. File photo: George Ourfalian/AFP


Many of the displaced (IDPs) are sleeping in the open because of a lack of shelter in the hard-to-reach and already disadvantaged area. Conditions are poor and reports on social media indicate diseases are spreading. 

In Afrin canton, the UN estimates that 50,000 civilians remain in the city and another 100,000 are in rural areas. Relief and medical agencies, however, do not have regular access to the canton.

Roads have been closed to traffic, preventing people from returning home or from accessing safety and services in Aleppo, the UN’s humanitarian office reported this week. 

Some people were stuck in areas with limited food and water for up to nine days with no protection from the elements. “Unconfirmed reports were received that at least two IDPs died and that a woman gave birth without any access to medical assistance,” the UN stated. 

Inside Afrin, the UN is working to ensure aid agencies can set up operations, but still does not have direct regular access. 

The continued lack of internet and phone services throughout much of Afrin is further complicating matters, making it difficult for humanitarians to assess the situation in the canton. 



Comments

 
Stewee Guy
Stewee Guy | 21/4/2018
Turkey is the #1 enemy of the all Kurds not just in Turkey but everywhere. Shame on every Kurd who vote for Erdogan.
Stop ethnic cleansing | 21/4/2018
YPG , by exhibiting the pictures of Ocalan, had called Turkey to kill Kurds and destroy Kurdistan.
Mohamedz | 21/4/2018
Turkey should leave Afrin and take these scumbags with him .
Outsider | 22/4/2018
Hey guys... (a) there is a difference between Jarablus and Afrin...since when is Jarablus part of Afrin...ooohhh sorry...sure in the dreams of some PKK/YPG it may is...(b) I never saw you writing one word of the 100,000s of the Arab population the YPG drove out of Tel Rifat or Manbij? (c) of course I am sorry for the people living in the open...but why is YPG/PUK not sending assistance? Before the Turks had captured Afrin every 2nd day they were sending a convoy of people and medicine. ..am I not right? (d) why are the (new) great friends of US & France not sending medicine and assistance...aaahhh they di not care so much about the Joe-average Kurd...they only care about their own goals....and using the Kurds for their games...be proud of you achievements dear heroic leaders of YPG/YPJ/PYD/KUK/SDF...or should I simple say PKK to cover all and every of these abbreviations. ..

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