Protest and commemoration on the second anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Afrin Region

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA – On the second anniversary of the occupation of Afrin by the Turkey and its proxy groups, several statements were issued by various organizations throughout North and East Syria. In Hasakah, the Syrian Women’s Council held a public rally to commemorate those killed in fighting and to denounce Turkey and Turkish-backed groups now occupying the region.

The Turkish invasion of Afrin Region, launched 20 January 2018, has seen the displacement of the local population – estimated at anywhere between 150,000 and 300,000 people – and large-scale criminality in what used to be the safest region in a country ripped apart by civil war. Shortly after the occupation took control, and even in the middle of the offense to take the region, there wide-spread looting and extrajudicial killing. As the occupation dragged on, the crimes became more systematic and better documented. The destruction of Yazidi holy sites, the routine abduction, torture, and extortion of Afrin’s ethnic and religious minorities, mass theft of public and private property – especially of the region’s famous olive harvest; the list goes on.

The Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, released the following statement:

“On this day of the year 2018, the Turkish occupation forces armed with all kinds of heavy weapons, with the participation of the so-called Free Army factions occupied Afrin city with their barbaric aggression. This led to the martyrdom of hundreds, the displacement of tens of thousands and the scorched earth policy, through ground and air strikes. In addition to demographic change operations, systematic forced displacement, pillage and looting by the mercenaries of the Turkish state.

While we in the Syrian Democratic Council remember this painful disaster with great sorrow about the people of Afrin, we appeal to the international community, the UN Security Council, human rights organization, the countries of the International Coalition, and the Russian Federation to end the Turkish occupation of Afrin and to return its forcibly displaced people to their homes. We also call on all Syrians to stand hand-in-hand and declare a comprehensive liberation war for the lands occupied by Turkey. We also promise our people in Afrin that we are continuing the political struggle in all international forums. With the support of our heroic forces for the liberation of Afrin, which will remain one of our priorities, in any political solution to the crisis of Syria in the next stage.

Mercy for the martyrs.”