A Syrian Kurdish woman walks in a street in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on January 30, 2018. The word next to her is “our homeland.” Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP
AFRIN – On the 11th day of ‘struggle and resistance’ by the canton of Afrin and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Brusk Hasaka, SDF spokesman, describes their fighting against almost 21 armed factions from the Free Syria Army, its’ Al-Qaeda affiliates and the Turkish army.
Hasaka says “the opposition has the latest advanced military technology and warplanes like F-16s they are using in their violent attacks against Syrians. We cannot underestimate the Turkish state … it has also assembled about 25,000 armed men to its side. ”
Turkey has the second largest military forces in NATO, after the U.S.
In these 11 days, there has been little progress by them, though every day there are two to three reconnaissance aircrafts followed by four to six war planes bombarding villages on each of the fighting fronts, reported Hasaka.
However, despite the air attacks and on-the-ground tanks and artillery shelling, the progress reported by the Turkish media has not yet been achieved.
Turkey is promoting through its own media, that it has taken over the areas of Afrin and this is far from the truth, stresses Hasaka.
“There are villages located in the border districts of Rajo, Bilbila, Shiya and Shirawa that have been evacuated because of heavy shelling and attacks with many technical weapons.”
He says, “Turkey promotes through the media fabricated news and statistics far from reality … only those villages that were destroyed are being controlled by the Turkish army.”
“In the first week, [there] were 34 martyred fighters from YPG, but during the last 11 days most of the victims were civilians, reports the SDF spokesman.
He believes the Turkish forces and the opposition factions who are floundering on the fronts are mostly targeting civilians. There has a general inhumane killing of civilians including children and old people, where they have been burned alive sometimes, he says.
The Turkish bombing does not distinguish between civilians and fighters or Kurds and Arabs. The 61 dead civilians include children and women so far.
He believes that the increase in violent attacks is evidence they are not making any progress as happened three days ago in a hill dominated by YPG fighters in the village of Kafri Kar.
“They tried with all their might to control it, many of them fell dead and wounded, but they were unable to do so,” he describes.
Hasaka says, “In the end, they had to use helicopters known as ‘Super Cobra’ to bomb the YPG fighters with Napalm, to make progress. We witness in Afrin now the continued airstrikes attacks by F-16 warplanes, besides the drones and reconnaissance aircraft.”
The clashes are continuing on Rajo and Shiya fronts with heavy shelling, and at the Jendeeres front there was heavy shelling with artillery, on Tuesday. But the resistance and steadfastness of fighters in these clashes and battles have prevented Turkey from making any progress these days.
Hasaka says, “The morale of our valiant forces is very high. The resistant people of Afrin have chosen to stay and defend their land, their homes, and their farms. They are fighting alongside the forces of SDF and YPG in every inch of Afrin.”
For this reason, Turkey retaliates by targeting civilians to frighten them and cause displacement, he believes.
So far, there is a very little displacement from Afrin. He says, “They are determined not to give up their land.”
Turkey launched operation “Olive Branch” on January 20 against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin, supporting Syrian opposition fighters with ground troops and air strikes.
Turkish forces have kept up air strikes and artillery fire on northern and western parts of Afrin, a predominantly Kurdish region, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group.
At least 61 civilians (Arabs, Kurds, and Armenians) and 78 fighters have been killed in 10 days of Turkish strikes and shelling on Afrin, according to SOHR. Even so, Kurds still reject the idea of handing the region back to the Syrian government.
Turkey believes the Kurdish-led regions of northern Syria are a supply corridor for “terrorists” and a rear base for the banned PKK movement, which has waged a three-decade insurgency in the Turkish southeast and is blacklisted as a terror group by Turkey and some Western allies.
Turkish media, consistently tells the public that PKK and its allies are considered “terrorists” on the international terrorist watch list, but rarely do we read that the United Nations, Russia, China, India, Egypt and 2/3’s of all countries do not consider them terrorists.
In the U.S., this is the same terrorist list that included Nelson Mandela of South Africa until from 1989 to 2008.
And the same list that included the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) until 2014.
For at least the past four years, many government leaders and academics have argued to remove the PKK and its affiliates from the international terror list as a case for building regional peace.
The Turkish regime as a NATO member has strong influence with the U.S., E.U. and western media who often overlook the role of the Syrian Kurds in establishing democracy and co-existence among Kurds, Christians, Ezidis, and Arab groups in northern Syria.
The Syrian Kurdish forces have also played a critical role fighting alongside the US-backed international coalition to stop ISIS in Syria these past years, particularly in Raqqa.