NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — On the anniversary of the Turkish aggression against Cafrin (Afrin), the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) of North and East Syria issued a statement to warn the international community of Turkey’s policies in Syria. The statement noted that: “20th January marks the fourth anniversary since the Turkish aggression on Cafrin and its countryside. It was a historical resistance against Turkey, which deployed all weapons to break the will of the residents of Cafrin, who had previously managed their affairs independently.”
The statement declared that after the aggression on Cafrin by the Turkish army and its affiliated factions, some espousing radical Islamist ideologies, the region and its people passed through their most difficult phase. “The occupation of Cafrin constituted a dangerous turning point in the history of the Syrian crisis”. In the statement, the SDC called on the international community and neighboring Arab countries to oppose the expansionist policies of Turkey, whose aggressive geopolitical agenda is not solely limited to violating the sovereignty of Syria, but also targets to the wider region. The statement demanded greater action to improve the dire humanitarian conditions experienced by residents of Cafrin and its countryside.
A recent humanitarian reports found that out of a total population of around 442,000 in Cafrin, at least 80% are in need of humanitarian assistance. The report also highlighted the increased inter-ethnic tensions, with minorities facing “constant harassment by local factions of the Turkish proxy ground troops or so-called ‘Syrian National Army’, putting minorities at risk of losing their livelihoods, access to food and shelter, and increasing their protection needs”.
The General Council of the Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, PYD) also issued a statement regarding the fourth anniversary, declaring that the Turkish occupation of Cafrin is still in clear violation of Article 51 of the UN Charter. “Due to external interventions in collaboration with internal parties, the war on Cafrin began, and the Syrian political map was dominated by conspiracies,” read the PYD statement, which also referred to Turkey committing systematic war crimes against civilians and other grave violations such as the destruction of archaeological sites.
In related news, the Media Center of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) issued a statement that, “Websites of the Turkish-backed proxies have claimed that the SDF has bombed the outskirts of Jarablus with mortars. This news was fabricated. The SDF did not bombard the aforementioned area.” SDF The statement added that the Turkish-backed factions have been circulating false news to mislead public opinion and distract from events occurring in Turkish-occupied territory in Syria. Violations including killings and the kidnapping of civilians have become commonplace in those territories.