Tension in Turkish border town under rocket fire

The Turkish border town of Kilis feels like it is under siege by rocket fire from Syria, journalist Laura Pitel wrote in the Financial Times.

Seven people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in Turkish towns close to the Syrian border by rockets that Turkey says have been fired by Syrian Kurdish fighters from the Syrian enclave of Afrin since Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel allies launched an air and ground offensive on the area on Jan. 20. Syrian Kurdish forces deny having fired the rockets.

“Tradesmen say the central shopping streets are quieter than usual,” she said.

“Yunus, a tea shop owner responsible for ensuring that customers of the nearby stores are plied with cups of black Turkish tea, complained that trade had plummeted. In normal times he serves 300 to 400 cups a day. Now it’s 100.”

However, authorities are trying to keep patriotic morale high in the face of the bombardments.
As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “has sought to rally the population behind the offensive, local authorities have encouraged residents to stand firm and embrace a nationalist spirit,” Pitel wrote. “Kilis’s streets are decked out in the blood-red Turkish flag. Banners tell soldiers passing through the town: ‘Our prayers are with you’.”

Turkey sees Afrin as a climax in a wider fight against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and other internal and external enemies, Pitel said.

“No one is dispirited by these rockets and missiles that are being fired as a result of this operation,” the newspaper quoted Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım as saying on a recent visit to the town. “But at the same time, it is a situation where people are angry.”