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Afrin’s Kurds appeal to world to end the conflict

By Karwan Faidhi Dri 24/1/2018
A wounded man lies on a stretcher in a hospital in Afrin on Tuesday. Photo: Ahmad Shafia Bilal/AFP
A wounded man lies on a stretcher in a hospital in Afrin on Tuesday. Photo: Ahmad Shafia Bilal/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – After five days of Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, people in Afrin say they are digging hideouts to escape bombardment and ask the international community to do more to end the conflict. 

Jiwan Sarfaraz’s mother and sisters were at their home in Jindaris, Afrin on Tuesday, he told Rudaw English.

“My father had gone out at that time. My mother went to the yard to fetch something,” Sarfaraz told the story in a low and sorrowful voice. When she was in the yard, Turkish warplanes carried out a strike that killed his mother, Fatma Bakir, he said.

Sarfaraz lives in Erbil. He had visited the Kurdistan Region in 2013 and was unable to return home to Afrin. So he has stayed and is working in Erbil as an online marketing agent.

But contact with his family in Afrin has been difficult. After learning about the death of his mother, he was having problems connecting with his family, “because the communication networks do not work.”

Now he wondered about the future of the remaining members of his family, saying “the situation is not normal… People are afraid to go out.”

In his hometown of Jindaris, people have dug holes to hide in from the Turkish warplanes, he said. 

Four civilians were reported killed in Jindaris on Tuesday, two children and two women according to the Kurdish forces.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that “terrorists” are the target of their Operation Olive Branch, naming the Kurdish YPG forces and the ruling political party PYD, which Ankara maintain are extensions of the PKK. The Syrian Kurdish groups deny the charge.

Turkey’s head of the parliament’s foreign affairs commission, Volkan Bozkir, informed NATO, the European Union, and member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that civilians will be protected. 

“All necessary precautions have been taken to avoid harm to civilians,” he wrote, according to Hurriyet Daily News, stressing that “terrorists” were the target.

According to figures from a monitoring group, civilians make up a great number of casualties.

At least 30 civilians are among the casualties in five days of the operation, two killed by SDF shelling and 28 killed by Turkish artillery and shelling, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated on Wednesday. 

People from Afrin confirm that civilians have suffered under the attacks.

Shekho Blo, a lawyer in Afrin talked to Rudaw English on the phone. He said people are moving within Afrin canton to find safer areas. 

Erdogan has accused Kurds of taking over Afrin canton and has said that his operation will restore the population demographics.

“Fifty-five percent of Afrin is Arab, 35 percent Kurds who were relocated later, and 6 to 7 percent Turkmen. The whole point is to give Afrin back to its real owners,” said Erdogan on Sunday in Bursa province.

Writing for the Washington Institute in 2016, visiting fellow Fabrice Balanche, said that Afrin’s population is “nearly 100 percent Kurdish.”

Locals confirm that Kurds are in the majority. 

Idris Hado, a Kurd from Afrin now living in Erbil estimated that the Kurdish population is as high as 95 percent. The Arab population, he said, was brought in under government policies during the 1960s. 

Afrin is also hosting as many as half a million Syrians displaced from other parts of the country. 

Hado has been in constant contact with his friends and family members in Afrin who tell him the situation is bad, “but their morale is high.”

Shiyar Khalil, a Kurdish journalist from Afrin, blamed Erdogan for harming the “good relationship” between Kurd and Arabs living in the canton.

Khalil had been detained in Syria for his support for the Syrian revolution and as an outspoken defender of human rights. He is now visiting Erbil from his base in France.

On Wednesday, as two people were killed in Turkey by a rocket fired from inside Syria, according to Turkish officials, Erdogan touted “successful” progress in the military operation in Afrin.

Sarfaraz, mourning his mother, called on the international community to “end the war.” 


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pre-Boomer Marine brat | 25/1/2018
The European NATO Establishment has just kissed Erdogan's tush regarding the invasion.
-- Afrin is the main town of the Western Kurdish region called "Chayi Kurménj" which means the Kurds mountain . Decades back , Afrin' s name was "Arfin" in the local toungue , but later it switched to the present "Afrin" , a term imposed by the state. At school we were only Kurds .There were six Armenian families in the town with their church ,but not one single Arab was there. We ,as Kurdish children , we have never felt attracted by the teaching of Islam and Arabic at school , and we were proud of being Kurds. From my early years I had always the conviction that Kurdishness means EXCELENCY. So the whole of my life I was eager to keep in my heart this notion of Excelency in whatever I have done ,or touched . This eagerness has at some point got recognition in the historic passages of the letters which Sir Ernst Gombrich has written to me comparing my drawings to those by Leonardo da Vinci. I was born into the prestine Kurdish Civilization , I was grown in the Kurdish rural areas of Arfin , I will bear for the rest of life in my heart and mind the memory of the that superior civilisation with noble characters , lovely and sincere gestures and attitudes of Kurdish women and men , the beutiful landscape of our vineyards and olive groves , the vast wheat fields , fertile and generous to feed generations of Kurds -lords of their country under the divine protection .May God come to help his brave Kurdish children.
JPL | 25/1/2018
If we lose Afrin we lose Kurdistan. We must fight to the end for Afrin. All this started with Kirkuk. Turkey thinks if the Kurds can afford losing Kirkuk then they must afford losing Afrin. Afrin is where we draw the line and fight!
Mohamedzzz | 25/1/2018
Kurds are fighting on behalf of the world peace, while terrorist state of Turkey is invading Syria and Iraq, the west is doing very little to help the brave Kurds, shame on EU, shame on US.
steven | 25/1/2018
I am an American an support the Kurds. I am angry that we have not told Erdogan to go away and STOP! We, the USA, should kick them out of NATO. They are not our friend. The Kurds are our real friends. The Kurds defeated ISIS and are the only ones brave enough to stand up to them on the battle field. I pray for the Kurds.

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