Pro Syrian Regime forces entered the city of Afrin last week under the request of the SDF (Syrian Defense Forces) and YPG to help them fight the Turkish armed forces at their doorstep. Over the course of a week 3 convoys packed with fighters and weapons have arrived in the city. The fighters will be specifically deployed to the front-lines against Turkish forces along the Rojava border. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a conflict monitor, Turkish Armed Forces are in control of around fifteen percent of the Afrin territory at this time.
As the Syrian forces entered the city center, a crowd came out to greet them cheering and raising pictures of Abdullah Ocalan (leader of the PKK that was imprisoned by Turkey) next to those of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad along with flags from both factions. Brusk Hasaka, a YPG spokesman disclosed to local media, “The coming of pro-Syrian forces is to show their opposition to attacks by the Turkish state and its mercenaries.” He further elaborated that the Syrian forces would be sent to the front stand in direct opposition of Turkish aggression. Salih Muslim, the founder and former co-chair of the PYD, stated, “At the moment there are negotiations with the Syrian government on the mediation of Russia, but not yet reached an agreement,” in reference to the conditions of the Syrian forces providing assistance and entering Rojava.
Operation Olive Branch began January 20th under the direct oversight of Turkish President Erdogan in proclaimed effort to combat Kurdish terrorism on Turkey’s border. To date 177 fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces have been killed in the conflict and an admitted to 32 deaths of Turkish soldiers; the civilian casualties are estimated to be in the hundreds. The SDF has claimed that Turkish Armed Forces and their proxies have, “indiscriminate attacks targeting civilian populated areas, infrastructure, drinking water pumps, and schools.”
The Turkish government has denied any civilian casualties. Bekir Bozdag, Deputy Prime Minister for Turkey, told state run media, “To date, no civilians have died or even been hurt in Turkish Armed Forces operations.” Co-chair of the HDP, Pervin Buldan, responded by saying, “The government is spreading misinformation by saying that there are no civilian deaths and that ‘terrorists’ were only killed. It is a lie.”
Feature Image Courtesy of Flickr