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Mar 16 2019

Turkey’s presence in Syria’s Afrin no different than West Bank- Jerusalem Post

Syria’s Kurdish enclave on Afrin should be treated with the same concern as the West Bank as the accusation against the military occupiers of Afrin, the Turkish army,  are similar and include confiscation and appropriation of land and homes, demographic change and lack of civil rights for locals, wrote Seth J.Frantzman in an analysis for the the Jerusalem Post on Saturday.

Afrin, which was mostly Kurdish and peaceful region during many years of Syrian civil war, was plunged into conflict in January 2018 following a Turkish military operation dubbed Operation Olive Branch and subsequent attacks by Syrian rebel groups, Frantzman wrote.

Pointing out the UN report on January 31, 2019 which highlights “arbitrary arrests and detentions “throughout the Afrin district, the analyst stressed that “Credible estimates indicated over 50 armed groups” are present in the Kurdish enclave and adjacent areas, including a wide range of rebel groups and some extremist jihadist groups.

While Ankara says it launched the offensive last year against ISIS and the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), there was no evidence of ISIS presence in Afrin, Frantzman stressed, noting that ‘’hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled Afrin during the fighting, a significant portion of the population.’’

Meanwhile, Afrin residents have reported appropriation of civilian homes, “hospitals, churches and a Yazidi shrine by members of armed opposition groups and citizens,” the analyst noted, citing the U.S. State Department.

‘’The reports point to a disastrous year in Afrin under military rule by Turkey and its allies,’’ he wrote, noting that the conflict in Afrin overshadows the complexities facing eastern Syria.

As Ankara pressures the United States to leave eastern Syria,  Washington has maintained they will not allow a Turkish operation against the SDF, who are the main US partners in fighting ISIS.

“After Afrin, watching hundreds of thousands flee and seeing extremists take over the countryside, the SDF will do anything to prevent a repeat scenario in eastern Syria,’’ Frantzman noted.

The ongoing situation in Afrin leads to questions about why it is not treated with the same concern as the West Bank, the article underlined, pointing to the accusation against the military occupiers of Afrin concerning confiscation and appropriation of land and homes, theft of olives, demographic change, refugees, and lack of civil rights for locals.

“More than one hundreds thousand Kurds who fled Afrin are still waiting a year later,’’  he concluded.