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Afrin IDPs demand Syrian government to defend its territory against “Turkish occupation”

ALEPPO NORTHERN COUNTRYSIDE, Syria (North Press) – Syrian government should defend its lands against Turkish attacks and threats by never allowing it to occupy other Syrian parts, IDPs of Afrin, said.,

The IDPs, who are scattered in camps and villages in the northern countryside of Aleppo, north Syria, demand Russia as a guarantor not to exploit them again as it did in Afrin during the Turkish invasion of 2018 for its own interests.

Recently, official media outlets reported that Turkish officials, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have threatened to launch a military operation against the town of Tel Rifaat in the northern countryside of Aleppo soon.

In mid-October, Turkish drones dropped leaflets warning civilians to stay away from military sites threatening to invade the area.

More than 300,000 people fled Afrin as a result of a military operation launched by Turkish forces with the support of the Turkish-backed armed Syrian factions in 2018.

Consequently, a part of the Afrin IDPs resorted to camps including al-Awda, Afrin, Barkhodan, Sardam, and Shahba while others resorted to 42 villages and towns in the northern countryside of Aleppo, in addition to some others displaced to cities of the Jazira, Kobani and other areas in Syria.

Turkey has been threatening to attack the town of Tel Rifaat, which houses IDPs of Afrin, amid successive shelling that the town has been witnessing.

On Monday, a Turkish drone targeted a joint military post of the government forces and Russian soldiers in Tel Rifaat town.  

“The government forces and Russian soldiers fired at the drone, but it was not hit,” military sources told North Press.  

“It should protect us”

“Shahba region (northern countryside of Aleppo) is a part of the Syrian territory Syrian government should protect us and the area against the Turkish occupation,” Alif Othman, an IDP of Afrin residing in Sardam Camp, said.

“If Turkey attacks Shahba region, where will we resort to?” Othman added.

“We do not want incidents that happened in Afrin to repeat,” she noted.

Following the withdrawal of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in March, 2018, the town of Tel Rifaat has been controlled by the government forces and Russian forces, where both forces have military points deployed in the town and on its outskirts.

On October 22, dozens of Syrian government supporters protested in the town of Tel Rifaat, north of Aleppo, north Syria, condemning the Turkish threats to attack their region.  

The protesters raised Syrian flags, pictures of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and signs with written phrases saying, “Turkish occupier kills our women and children, Syrian clans denounce killing of children.”

One day later, hundreds of IDPs of Afrin protested in the town of Tel Rifaat denouncing the Turkish threats.  

“The Turkish state attacks the Syrian areas under the pretext of fighting terrorism, but it supports and protects terrorist organizations and factions, which are globally designated on terrorism list such as al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sharqiya that are running Afrin, Sere Kaniye and Idlib,” Secretary General of Syrian National Democratic Alliance, Ahmed al-A’raj, said.

“The government should not be lag in carrying its duty, so that the scenario of the Turkish invasion of the city of Afrin not repeated. The government forces will receive popular support from Afrin’s displaced and residents of the northern countryside of Aleppo,” officials of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) say.

Fears

Meanwhile, the 42-year-old IDP of Afrin, Horiyye Mustafa, who is residing in Sardam Camp fears that Russia may exploit the IDPs of Afrin again as it did previously “They occupied Afrin and the area was under attack. What did Russia do?”

IDPs of Afrin and the AANES hold Russia responsible for the Turkish occupation of Afrin, where Russia, during the Turkish invasion on Afrin, evacuated its post, in which its soldiers were stationed, and headed towards the northern countryside of Aleppo.

“Their promises are fake and all are lies. We have been residing in Shahba region for four years, amid ongoing shelling by Turkish forces and Turkish-backed armed factions,” Mustafa added.

“They are tightening the siege on us and Russia and the government say that they are present here in the area,” she noted.

In mid-August, Turkish artillery, stationed at the Scientific Research Center on Azaz-Yahmoul road, bombed the vicinity of Tel Rifaat and the surrounding villages in the northern countryside of Aleppo, northern Syria.

On July 11, four people, including a child, were injured in a Turkish drone strike on the town of Tel Rifaat in the northern countryside of Aleppo.

Two days earlier, five people including three children were wounded in the village of Ahras in the northern countryside of Aleppo as a result of the Turkish shelling of the village.

On December 2, Turkish forces with the support of the Syrian armed factions committed a massacre in Tel Rifaat by conducting a missile bombardment killing ten people including eight children and wounding 14 others.  

“Each area or city that Turkey and the affiliated armed factions take control of, is destroyed, similar to what is happening in Afrin,” the 54-year-old Muhammad Saleh, an IDP of Afrin residing in Sardam Camp, said.

“After they took control over Afrin, they looted, kidnapped, and killed residents, what does Erdogan want and what will he do in Tel Rifaat,” he noted.

Reporting by Dijla Khalil

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