Calls for No-Fly Zone for North and East Syria after Turkey assassinates commanders of Women’s Protection Units in drone strike

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — Following the assassination of three members of the Women’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Jin, YPJ) in a Turkish drone strike on 22 July 2022, Syrian and international activists and politicians called for a “No-Fly Zone” to be established over North and East Syria.

According to the YPJ Media Office, those killed in the Turkish drone strike were Anti-Terror Units (Yekîneyên Antî Teror, YAT) commander Jiyan Tohildan, YPJ commander Roj Xabûr, and YAT member Barîn Botan.

Their car was targeted by a Turkish drone as they left the “Women’s Revolution Forum” being held in Zalin (Qamishli) to discuss the situation of women and their achievements on the 10th anniversary of the revolution in North and East Syria.

The assassination of Tohildan, Xabûr, and Botan is only one in a series of targeted and indiscriminate killings perpetrated by Turkey in North and East Syria.

According to the Rojava Information Center, this was the 56th Turkish drone strike in North and East Syria this year and the 18th targeting vehicles.

“At least 21 people have been killed and 63 wounded or disfigured by Turkish drone attacks in 2022,” wrote the group via Twitter.

The same day as the assassination, the U.S.-led International Coalition partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the YPJ is a part, released a message highlighting a recent “Key Leader Engagement” endeavor which saw female U.S. soldiers liaising and spending time with their SDF counterparts.

“This meeting reflects the long-standing role heroic women have had in the fight against ISIS,” read the message. “We remain united & committed to a safe & secure NE Syria. #StrongerTogether.”

In a message offering its condolences via Twitter, U.S. Central Command made no mention of Turkey’s responsibility for the assassination.

The most recent wave of Turkish attacks has sparked greater pushback from international activists and politicians. Via social media, thousands joined a hashtag campaign calling for a No-Fly Zone to be established over North and East Syria and for sanctions to be imposed on Turkey as it — once again — threatens to invade the region.

The hashtag #NoFlyZone4Rojava was posted via Facebook and Twitter with phrases such as “It is our right to have a safe sky”, “Away from the daily Turkish drones”, and “Banning Turkish flights on North and East Syria means stopping the Turkish genocide, ethnic cleansing, displacement and migration, demographic change, and means giving children a bright future.”

According to media reports, U.S. officials have warned their Turkish counterparts behind closed doors about invading North and East Syria.