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Posts Tagged ‘Turkey

Turkey Shells Kurds in Syria.

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Turkey, US finalize steps for joint patrols in Manbij

Turkey and US to Jointly Clear Northern Syrian Manbig of Kurdish YPG forces.

While the rest of the world was looking at the Khashoggi killing in the Saudi Istanbul Consulate…

The state run Turkish News Agency Anadolu announces today:

Turkey, US finalize steps for joint patrols in Manbij  Kasim Ileri

‘Mission rehearsals and interoperability training for combined patrols are complete, says Pentagon

Turkey and the United States have completed preparations for joint patrols in northern Syria’s Manbij area, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

The patrols are part of a roadmap between Turkey and the U.S. that focuses on the withdrawal of forces of the PKK’s Syrian affiliate YPG to stabilize the city, which is in Aleppo province.

“Mission rehearsals and interoperability (note: ???????) training for combined patrols outside Manbij city are complete,” said Cmdr. Sean Robertson. “Both forces are resetting in order to begin combined patrols.”

Without providing an exact date, Robertson said the rehearsals were grounded in synchronizing Turkish and American forces’ ability to conduct patrols outside of Manbij.

“The mission rehearsals address safety and familiarizations (Note ??????) with combined tactical operations,” he said.

The training program included rehearsals of mounted patrol operations, weapons training, IED procedures, vehicle recovery, stabilizing traffic control points and situation de-escalation exercises.

Another spokesperson for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner, said the patrols “should be in shortly.”

A defense official, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that the patrols are expected to begin in “a couple of days” or in “less than a week”.

This happened on Sunday:

Turkey Strikes U.S.-Backed Kurds After Erdogan’s ‘Final Warning’.

(Bloomberg) — Turkey fired on U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militants in northern Syria on Sunday, moving ahead with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vow to rout them from his country’s southern border.

Turkish howitzers targeted positions held by the YPG fighters on the eastern flank of the Euphrates River that splits northern Syria roughly into eastern and western halves, state-run Anadolu news agency said. Turkey had earlier pushed out the American allies from most of the border areas to the west of the river, seeing them as an extension of PKK separatists it’s battled for decades at home.

Sunday’s shelling, albeit limited in scope, threatens to increase tensions between Ankara and Washington, which backed the Kurdish fighters because it saw them as best equipped to drive Islamic State fighters from Syria. The attack on YPG came just two days after Erdogan accused the U.S. of stalling on a June agreement to push the group away from the town of Manbij on the western flank of the Euphrates, and said he was warning Kurdish fighters for the last time to retreat.

Turkey shells US-backed Kurdish fighters’ positions in Syria: State media.

Middle East Eye.

Turkey’s military has fired artillery shells at a Kurdish armed group in Syria that is backed by the United States but deemed a terrorist group by Ankara, state-run Anadolu news agency has reported.

The shells targeted “shelters” of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) east of the Euphrates River in the Kobane region of northern Syria on Sunday, Anadolu said.

The move comes two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued what he said was a “final warning” to those who would endanger Turkey’s borders, saying Ankara was determined to focus its attention on Syrian Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates.

The bombardments also come a day after Erdogan hosted a summit in Istanbul on the Syrian conflict with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany, in which they adopted a joint statement committing to work “together in order to create conditions for peace and stability in Syria”.

The strikes targeted YPG positions and trenches on a hill near the eastern bank of the Euphrates, across the river from the city of Jarablus, AFP news agency reported.

The YPG, which has been a key ally of the US in the fight against the Islamic State group, took control of large areas of northeast Syria in 2012 as government forces pulled out to fight rebels in the west

However, Ankara is bitterly opposed to the group, regarding it as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey since 1984.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Washington’s support of the YPG remains a major point of contention between the US and Turkey, NATO allies who have seen relations deteriorate over the last two years.

Both oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Turkey’s military incursions have recently focused more on Kurdish fighters near its border.

Turkey has launched two offensives west of the Euphrates since 2016 to repel “radical” fighters from its border and prevent zones under YPG control from joining.

The offensives include an operation against YPG forces in northern Syria’s Afrin region earlier this year, which saw thousands of Kurds displaced from their homes.

Spokesperson says Turkey violates US-Turkish agreement on Manbij

Kurdistan 24.

RBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Sharvan Darwish, spokesperson of the Manbij Military Council (MMC), on Sunday accused the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield rebels of targeting MMC positions in Manbij and villages near the city, such as al-Harima, Kareidiya, and al-Hamran.

“A woman who was working in an olive field with her family was severely injured. This deliberate acts by these factions, acting under direct Turkish command, violate the terms of the initiative put forward by international coalition forces with the Turkish side to end tensions and conflicts, and establish security and stability in this area,” he said about the Turkish cross-border shelling that happened Sunday morning.

On June 4, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, met with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, where the two endorsed a “general roadmap” for Manbij that was “conditions-based,” and included the establishment of joint Turkish-US patrols on the demarcation line separating the MMC and the Turkish backed forces. So far, US troops are still in Turkey for training to create these joint patrols.

“We in the MMC, in order to create stability, have worked hard with the international coalition forces to implement this initiative, which is in the interest of our people in Manbij, specifically for the people living near the demarcation line,” Darwish explained.

“The factions operating under the banner of the Turkish army [could damage] any serious and sincere approach [by Washington and Ankara] working for the benefit of the local population,” the official warned.

He accused the Turkish-backed factions and the Turkish army of provoking tensions, which could lead to war and an “end to the stability in Manbij,” suggesting they were “tampering with civilian lives.”

The MMC “confirms to the public that repercussions to these provocations are directly borne by the Turkish military forces, which support and push these factions to carry out these acts,” Darwish argued.

“While we stress that we will take the measures required to deter these successive provocations, we ask the parties concerned to prevent escalation and tension for the Syrian situation to work.”

Darwish also noted that the current tensions were destabilization the security of Manbij, which it had not witnessed “since its liberation from Daesh [Arab acronym for IS].”

Turkish armed forces shelled the People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions east of the Euphrates River, in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), with Turkish state media, Anadolu Agency, claiming the attack was “within the scope of self-defense.”

The Turkish bombardments targeted “the villages of Zormikhar, Charikhli, Siftek, and Ashme, all of them located west of [Kobani], with tank, mortar, and howitzer fire,” the YPG said in a statement.

In the shelling, Mohammed Kobani, a conscript was killed in the village of Zor Maghar, and two others were injured.

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) on Sunday accused Western countries of remaining silent toward Turkish provocations and cross-border bombings following a quartet meeting between Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France on the Syrian crisis, in Istanbul.

“We emphasize that, without this position, Erdogan would have not dared to bomb northern Syria,” the PYD alleged.

“Therefore, we call on everyone not to submit to the blackmail and threat of Turkey, and to do their duty to create a solution to the Syrian crisis, without excluding the representatives of the real people of Syria,” the PYD concluded.

Editing by Nadia Riva.

Just to remind people what people in Syria have faced, the tragedy of Yazids has been put on film by the Kurdish activists.

Heartbreaking film on Ezidis introduces the Kurdistan Memory Programme

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2018 at 1:47 pm

After the Fall of Afrin and the Heroic Fight of Anna Campbell.

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Anna Campbell: Died Fighting with her Comrades against Turkish and Jihadist Attack. 

The mood amongst Kurds turned grim when Turkish-backed Islamist rebels took Afrin on Sunday and looted the town. Many Kurds were especially upset after fighters destroyed the statue of Kawa, the Kurdish blacksmith who is a symbol for the Kurdish New Year celebrations known as Newroz that will take place on March 21.

“I’m devastated, heartbroken, that’s the least I can say about this, I actually still can’t comprehend this,” said Berfin, a woman from Afrin who had fled to Aleppo. “We have an emotional bond with our land and the people there, the old men and women, our olive trees, Maidanky lake … it’s unbearable,” she said.

A day before the city was captured, the Syrian Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), took the decision to evacuate most people and move the local administration to the Shahba region, north of Aleppo. Rather then having Afrin surrounded, the town destroyed and hundreds of civilians killed, Kurdish fighters decided it was better to evacuate and withdraw.

Al Jazeera,  Erdogan vows to extend Turkey’s operation to Syria’s northeast

Turkey has vowed to expand its operation in Syria’s Afrin region to other Kurdish-held areas further east, prompting fears for a possible confrontation with US troops stationed in the area.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Turkey’s plans to extend the operation a day after Turkish-led forces entered the city of Afrin in northwestern Syria virtually unopposed.

“We will continue this process until we entirely eliminate this corridor, including in Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli,” the Turkish leader said.

Turkey, together with the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels, launched a military operation into Afrin region in January to vanquish the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, which it deems “terrorists” near its border.

Expanding Turkey’s military campaign into the much larger Kurdish-held territory further east would risk confronting troops of a NATO ally, the United States, that are deployed alongside a YPG-dominated force in northern Syria.

Turkish authorities have described the stretch of northern Syria under Kurdish control as a “terror corridor” on the long southern border.

The YPG has been Washington’s main ally against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Syria, in a partnership that has infuriated Turkey.

US criticism

Pentagon spokesman US Army Colonel Rob Manning reiterated Washington’s criticism on Turkey’s operation in Afrin in a press briefing on Monday.

“We are very concerned about the effect that fighting there [in Afrin] has had” on efforts to defeat ISIL, he said.

Meanwhile, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told Al Jazeera that Ankara and Washington had reached a general agreement on Manbij and that the Turkish side is now waiting for its NATO ally to implement the deal.

Ankara considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and its armed-wing YPG to be “terrorist groups” with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged a decades-long armed fight against the Turkish state that has killed tens of thousands of people.

The YPG had come to control large swaths of northern Syria, including Afrin, in the course of the seven-year Syrian war.

It gained the territory after defeating the ISIL group while fighting in a US-backed rebel alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Erdogan also said in his speech on Monday that Turkey would carry out an offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq if Baghdad does not clear the region of them, referring to the PKK presence there.

Drawn to a Cause, British Woman Dies Fighting Alongside Kurds in Syria. New York Times,

Anna Campbell, a young woman from southern England, did all of that. Last week, as the Turkish military and its Syrian rebel allies hammered their way into Afrin, in northwestern Syria, Ms. Campbell died for her commitment — the eighth Briton and the first British woman to be killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces.

In Britain, Ms. Campbell, 26, was active in causes like animal rights and environmental protection, but until recently, she had no personal connection to the Kurds. Yet she was deeply moved, family and friends said, by the fight to defend an autonomous, mostly Kurdish region in northern Syria, known as Rojava, whose leaders advocate a secular, democratic and egalitarian politics, with equal rights for women.

“She was somebody who saw the injustices of the world and the plight of the weak and vulnerable and disempowered, and she also saw the idealism, the amazing utopian vision of Rojava, and she found those two elements irresistible,” her father, Dirk Campbell, said in an interview. “She wanted to prevent that from being stamped out, which Turkey and Syria are trying to do.”

The Free Syrian Army, a rebel group, and Turkey declared on Sunday that they had taken control of Afrin, a mostly Kurdish city near the Turkish border that had been held by the People’s Protection Units, the Kurdish-led militia known by the initials of its Kurdish name, Y.P.G. The Kurds appeared to have withdrawn, but the Y.P.G. claimed in a statement that the fight was not over, and that it had only shifted “from direct confrontation war to hit-and-run tactics.”

Continue reading the main story.

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign is devastated to hear of the martyrdom of Anna Campbell aka Helîn Qerecox. A prominent activist in Brighton and Bristol anti-fascist, anarchist and feminist circles, Anna went to Rojava in May to join the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighting the patriarchal, women-enslavers and rapists of ISIS. As a member of a workers’ co-operative and tenants’ right activist, Anna would have found common cause not just with the military fight against the ISIS fascists but also with the creation of a new society in Rojava built on common ownership and self-determination and the ethos of a co-operative society.

Anna’s sheer heroism was demonstrated by her insistence on taking part in the Afrin resistance despite the great danger of fighting against NATO’s second-biggest army and their array of jihadist proxies. Anna is not just the first woman from these shores to die fighting for the Rojava revolution, but the first British citizen to be killed by our NATO “allies” Turkey. It cannot be forgotten that NATO’s invasion of Afrin is illegal and has no basis in international law. Their attack on the convoy which killed Anna constitutes a war crime and we call on all progressive forces in this country to pressure the UK government to take firm action against Turkey. Enough is enough, we cannot stand by whilst our government colludes in Turkey’s war crimes, killing Kurds and British citizens alike, and reviving ISIS in northern Syria.

Anna’s act of bravery and martyrdom will never be forgotten by the Kurdish community, by her friends and comrades here and around the world, and by all those who fight for a better world. Through her acts she has become immortal and will live forever. Sehid namirin – the martyrs are immortal.” http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqflk

This how the ‘Free Syrian Army’ and the ‘National Coalition Of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces presented their murderous assault.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Afrin Falls to Jihadists and Turkish Army but Fight and Solidarity Continue!

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Turkish Backed Jihadists Demolish, “blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for the Kurdish movement.”

Just breaking….

Syria war: Turkey-backed forces oust Kurds from heart of Afrin

BBC.

Turkish-backed forces have taken full control of the centre of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin.

Fighters waved flags and tore down the statue of a legendary Kurdish figure after claiming the city centre on Sunday.

The two-month Turkish-led operation aimed to rid the border region of a Kurdish militia that Turkey considers a terrorist group.

Activists say 280 civilians have died, although this is denied by Ankara.

Pictures and video footage emerged of forces tearing down a Kurdish statue with a bulldozer.

The monument depicted the blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for the Kurdish movement.

A statement on a Whatsapp group for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces called it the “first blatant violation of Kurdish people’s culture and history since the takeover of Afrin”.

A Turkish armed forces Twitter page posted a video of troops displaying the nation’s flag in Afrin’s centre.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Campaign to Support Afrin, as Turkey is alleged to recruit ISIS Genociders to attack the Kurdish YPG.

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Turkey using ISIS fighters for Afrin invasion – newspaper

Turkey is deploying Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Afrin to help it fight the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) there, a former ISIS fighter told The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

“Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting ISIS, but actually they are training ISIS members and sending them to Afrin,” he quoted the man, named Faraj, as saying.

Turkey was using members of the extreme jihadist group because of their fighting experience, and because there are few likely consequences for Turkish domestic opinion if they suffer casualties, Cockburn said.

ISIS, meanwhile, is trying to regain a foothold in Syria, and dealing damage to the U.S.-backed YPG would be an important strategic move, he said.

“The fighting between Turks and Kurds and the growing confrontation between the U.S. and Turkey are all in the interests of ISIS,” Cockburn said.

“It does not have the strength to recover from its crushing defeats last year, but the opponents it faced then are now fighting other battles.”

Turkey’s state news agency has also said that the YPG has freed jailed ISIS fighters in return for the militants joining the fight against Turkey.

There is growing international concern, as this campaign illustrates.

 A group of intellectuals, professors, academics and human rights activists launched world campaign against the Turkish occupation of Afrin and signed a petition against the Turkish occupation.

The petition called on the United Nations, America, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating the Syrian territories and allowing the people of Afrin to live in peace, and demanded an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Afrin is surrounded by al-Qaeda, jihadist groups and the Turkish state

According to the petition, the majority of Afrin residents are Kurds, the most secure areas in Syria. The population of the Afrin region has doubled over the past five years; the population is about 400,000. The petition noted that Afrin is now besieged by the jihadist groups affiliated with Turkey, as well as al-Qaeda and the Turkish state.

People’s Protection Units alone protect peoples

The petition also addressed the Turkish threats against People’s Protection Units in Afrin. These units, participated with US against IS, have opened the way for the establishment of democratic civil society councils in the areas under their control. It stressed that People’s Protection Units defend the Kurds and other peoples living in northern Syria.

The lives of thousands of civilians are threatened

The intellectuals also emphasized Erdogan tries to eliminate the safe and stable Afrin canton, pointing out any possible attack that would threaten the lives of thousands of civilians and displaced people. Stressing at the same time that any Turkish attack will be with the permission of Russia, Iran and Syria, and America’s inaction.

Supporting Kurds, who sacrificed thousands of their martyrs in the war against IS, is a moral responsibility

The petition signed by intellectuals and academics said that the Kurdish people sacrificed thousands of their martyrs to save the world from IS mercenaries. “The moral responsibility is imposed on the international community and on America to stand by the Kurdish people.”

The petition called on the United Nations, the United States, Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from violating Syrian land and to allow the people of Afrin to live in peace. It also called for an end to attacks by the Turkish state against Afrin.

Among those who signed the petition were Noam Chomsky, Michael Walzer, Charlotte Bunch, Todd Gitlin, David Graeber, Nadje Al Ali, David Harvey, Michael Hardt, Marina Sitrin, David Phillips, Ann Snitow, Bill Fletcher, Joey Lawrence, Meredith Tax and Debbie Bookchin.

Full text of the petition:

We, the undersigned academics and human rights activists, insist that the leaders of Russia, Iran, and the U.S. ensure that the sovereignty of Syrian borders is not breached by Turkey and that the people of Afrin in Syria, be allowed to live in peace.

Afrin, whose population is predominantly Kurdish, is one of the most stable and secure regions in Syria. With very little international aid, Afrin has taken in so many Syrian refugees in the last five years that its population has doubled to 400,000. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to attack the U.S. military’s Kurdish partners – the Kurdish YPG or People’s Protection Units – with which the US has been allied against ISIS. Turkey accuses the YPG of being “terrorists” despite the YPG’s long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as “Rojava”, which includes Afrin.

Turkey has massed an enormous military force on the Afrin border and President Erdogan has promised to attack the Kurdish-controlled canton with full force, annihilating a peaceful enclave, and putting thousands of civilians and refugees at risk, all in pursuit of its vendetta against the Kurds.

An attack of this kind against the peaceful citizens of Afrin is a blatant act of aggression against a peaceful and democratically-governed region and population. Turkey cannot carry out such an attack without the approval of Russia, Iran and Syria – and inaction by the U.S. to stop it. The Kurdish people have endured the loss of thousands of young men and women who joined the YPG, and YPJ women’s force, to rid the world of ISIS. The U.S and the international community have a moral obligation to stand behind the Kurdish people now. We call on U.S. officials and the international community to guarantee Afrin’s stability and security and prevent further Turkish aggression from within Syria and across the Syrian border.

There is also this:

*Urgent call for Demo:
#STOPAFRINGENOCIDE#

Since 20 January Turkish army and its mercenaries are brutally continuing attacking Efrîn Canton bombing civilians homes and shelling hospitals and schools to destroying the peaceful co-existing people of northern Syria. To protest these attacks by Turkish State, we call everyone to join us and protest outside the Prime Minister Office in London, where leaflets and information will be distributed everyday for a week long desk with a tent/ Afrin resistance comp.
Start Date : 10/02/2018 Saturday
Time: 12:00am-6pm
Address: 10 Downing Street
Closest station: Westminister Station
Kurdish People Assembly
Roj Women Assembly
Democratic Union Party (PYD)-UK

2 of ISIS’ Infamous British Fighters Are Captured by Syrian Kurds

New York Times.

Syrian Kurdish fighters have detained two British men infamous for their role in the Islamic State’s imprisonment, torture and killing of Western hostages, according to American officials.

The men were part of a group of four Islamic State militants known as the Beatles because of their British accents. Officials identified the two men captured as Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh. They were the last two members of the group to remain at large.

The ringleader, Mohammed Emwazi, was killed in an airstrike in 2015 in Syria after an intensive manhunt. Known as Jihadi John, he beheaded American and British hostages. A fourth man, Aine Davis, is imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism charges.

All four had lived in West London. Mr. Kotey, born in London, is of Ghanaian and Greek Cypriot background, while Mr. Elsheikh’s family fled Sudan in the 1990s. Both men have been designated foreign terrorists by the United States.

The British extremists were known for their brutality. They repeatedly beat the hostages they kept imprisoned in Raqqa, Syria, formerly the Islamic State’s self-declared capital, and subjected them to waterboarding and mock executions. Mr. Emwazi was believed to have killed the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, an aid worker. The American government says the group beheaded more than 27 hostages.

 

 

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Stop Turkish Attacks on Kurds in Afrin!

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Defend Afrin!

A couple of days ago le Monde (25.1.18) published this report:

A Afrin, forces turques et djihadistes se côtoient dans les combats

Le groupe djihadiste Tahrir Al-Cham, issu d’Al-Qaida, combat les forces kurdes à Afrin, sous l’œil bienveillant de l’armée turque.

At Afrin the Turkish forces and jihadists stand side by side in the fighting.

The jihadist group, Tahrir Al-Cham, with origins in Al-Qaeda, are fighting the Kurdish forces in Afrin, under the watchful eyes of the Turkish army.

Meanwhile the Free Syrian Army has made this claim, (27.1.18)

Afrin operation aims to protect Kurds: FSA commander

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) supporting the ongoing Turkish military operation in Afrin seeks to protect the Kurdish people oppressed by PYD/PKK terrorist group in the northwestern Syrian city, according to a FSA commander.

On Jan. 20, the Turkish army launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin. It is noted that Kurds oppressed by PYD/PKK are in the FSA frontlines during the offensive.

“Our motive was never to bomb or kill innocent people,” Isa Kedlo, a Kurdish commander of FSA, said on Saturday. “We are part of the locals and want them not to be manipulated by the [PYD/PKK] black propaganda,” he said.

“We will save our Kurdish people who were oppressed by PKK,” Kedlo said.

The FSA commander said Operation Olive Branch aims to bring back peace and freedom to the city and return people who were forced out of their homes.

“We will liberate our friends locked in YPG dungeons, and secure our region and then provide stability for our people,” he said.

Peter Tatchell tweeted,

Against the triple alliance of jihadists, the ‘Free Syrian Army’  and Turkey, protests took place across Europe yesterday.

These are from London.

This is a helpful article on the consequences of Turkey’s invasion.

Turkey’s attack on Syrian Kurds could overturn the entire region

The new front is not just a local conflict: it could lead to a broader Kurdish revolt that redraws the map. The west must finally decide what it wants to achieve in the Middle East or other players will benefit.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 28, 2018 at 1:15 pm

International Volunteers for the Kurdish Freedom Fighters Prepared to Fight Turkish led Forces in Syria.

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parliamentary_meeting_afrin.jpg

 

This was a major news story on BBC Radio Four this morning.

Volunteers ‘prepared’ to fight alongside Kurdish militia

Kurdish fighters have released a video showing an international group of volunteers who previously fought in Syria against so-called Islamic State.

In the video, a man with an American accent says: “We’ve been training for a significant amount of time. We are prepared.”

Britons prepare to fight Turkish-led forces in Syria

British men are among a group of international volunteers preparing to fight against Turkish-led forces in north-west Syria, the BBC understands.

They have joined the Kurdish militia, the YPG, in its offensive on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin.

Among the volunteers is a 24-year-old British-Chinese fighter from Manchester, known as Huang Lei.

Lei, who originally travelled to Syria in 2015 to battle against IS, told the BBC it was his “duty” to fight.

The YPG has released a video showing an international group of volunteers who previously fought in Syria against so-called Islamic State.

Lei has told the BBC that there are two other Britons with him among the group, although they have chosen to remain anonymous.

In the video, an American says: “We’re all ready to go and fight in Afrin, against the invading force of Turkey.

“We’ve been training for a significant amount of time. We are prepared, and we have been supplied by the YPG to fight against the Turkish terrorists.”

We were fighting against ISIS in Syria and suddenly we heard that Turkey is attacking Afrin and bombing the city,” he says.

“We want to go there to help people defend the city and protect the people.”

This marks a significant shift in the involvement of international fighters in the Syrian war.

With the IS threat diminished, for some volunteers their mission has changed.

Lei says there is now a group of around 20 international volunteers who will go to defend the city, including Britons from Manchester, London and Leeds, and others from France, Germany, Spain and the US.

He says: “For me personally, the kindness and comradeship the Kurdish people have shown is my motivation to stand against Turkey”.

The British Foreign Office has repeatedly warned people not to get involved in fighting abroad, so signs of changing motivations from western anti-IS fighters may prompt fresh concern.

Michael Stephens, a Middle East analyst from the Royal United Services Institute, said: “Previously their actions had aligned completely with the goals of coalition partners.

“Now these volunteers are taking on a sovereign country and a NATO ally and this brings up certain legal considerations.”

Lei accepts he may face consequences if he comes back to Britain.

“I really hope I can return, but I don’t want to come back and get arrested,” he says.

“I am here to fight against terrorists. I don’t want to come back home and become a terrorist.”

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) has issued this statement,

We oppose all outside intervention in Syria, from whatever side. We see this latest intervention as one which can only worsen the situation, while in particular targeting the Kurdish YPG. We note that the Syrian government had denied the Turkish government’s claim that “all parties being involved were informed and operation is being carried with respect to Syria’s territorial integrity”.

It is reported that a ground operation is expected to follow with the support of the Free Syrian Army. The Turkish government is trying to justify this as “protection of the border and security”. This is a false justification of Turkey’s war on the Kurdish population in the region. These attacks are not aimed at protecting security because Turkey’s border security is not endangered. Afrin has been the calmest region in the whole Syrian civil war.

This war will have devastating consequences for the peoples of Turkey, Syria and of the region. The responsibility for this will lie with Turkey’s ruling AKP government, its leader Erdogan, and those imperialist powers who consent to these attacks.

We are particularly concerned given that Turkey is an important NATO member and there is a danger that its involvement here will herald wider intervention from other NATO powers.

This is not in the interests of anyone who is suffering as a result of this seven year long war. All outside intervention must end now. Only the people of Syria can decide their future.

We call on the British government to use all efforts to put pressure on Turkey to end the attack. It is important that the trade union movement and the anti war and peace movement exert as much pressure as possible through protests, lobbying and campaigning.

Stop the War & SPOT (Solidarity with the People of Turkey)

While some of this statement is welcome, that is opposition to “targeting the Kurdish YPG”,  how can this “pressure” possibly deal with the attack? Does it also mean that the StWC also calls on the  internationalist volunteers to follow the Foreign Office’s advice and not get involved in the fighting?

These are heroes and heroines, prepared to stand up the genocidal killers and their own volunteers, the Einsatzgruppen of ISIS.

Now they face the murdering forces of the Turkish, ‘moderate’ Islamist,  Erdoğan.

We back this:

HANDS OFF AFRIN Kurdish Solidarity Campaign.

Urgent concerns have been raised over the imminent threat by Turkey of military attacks on the Kurdish Afrin canton in Northern Syria

Representatives from the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) have been invited and will be attending the Sochi peace talks to be hosted by Russia at the end of this month (January 29th-30th). This is the first time the DFNS will have a seat at Syrian peace talks of this level, despite the fact they have, for many years now, proven to be the most efficient force against terrorist groups such as ISIS in Syria who were defeated by the Syrian Democratic Forces in the terrorist groups self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa, just a few months ago. The only force in Syria to have received support from both the US-backed coalition and Russia, the SDF (the armed forces of the DFNS) is a major power in the new emerging Syria; however, it is now under serious threat from Turkey who vehemently opposes its participation in the peace talks and moreso its existence in general. Indeed, Turkey is seeking to extend its own influence over the Syrian border using its military power and Salafist “rebel” proxies (further detail of Turkey’s links to Salafist terrorist groups in Syria can be found in our submission to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee).

Ankara is angered by the announcement last week that the Kurdish-led SDF will create a new border force in the north of Syria with support from the US Coalition, as part of its ongoing strategy to maintain stability and shore up defence against Turkish invasion. In light of this new border force plan, the upcoming Sochi peace talks, and Turkey’s historical aggression towards the DFNS, it is very likely Turkey will commence a full military incursion into the SDF-held Afrin canton by the weekend hoping to gain significant leverage in future peace talks and negotiations. Shelling and artillery fire by Turkey and Turkish-backed group was reported late last night (17th January) in Afrin’s Sherawa and Shera districts. If successful, Turkish leader Erdogan will be able to claim a political and military victory and add legitimacy to his continuous threats against the SDF and the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.

This aggressive move from Turkey has the potential to totally jeopardise all chances of peaceful resolution for the Syrian conflict. Further, it risks millions of lives in an area filled with internally displaced people (around 2.5 million) from the conflict zones of Syria that sought safety in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, a secular, multi-ethnic, multi-faith, democratic autonomous zone with a strong emphasis on women’s rights and defence against the scourge of ISIS.

French Communist Daily, L’Humanité, backs the Kurdish fight against the Turkish invasion.

Feleknas Uca, députée kurde : « Nous sommes la force principale pour défendre les valeurs démocratiques au Moyen-Orient »

Demonstration outside the Council of Europe.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 24, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Turkey’s ‘Justice March: Opposition leader launches court challenge as he marches to Istanbul

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https://i0.wp.com/scd.france24.com/en/files/element_multimedia/image/kk-embed.jpg

 Kemal Kilicdaroglu (third from left) : a single word, “Adalat” –  “justice”.

Turkey’s opposition leader launches court challenge as he marches to Istanbul

By Daren Butler | ISTANBUL Reuters.

Turkey’s main opposition leader launched a European court appeal on Tuesday over an April vote that granted President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers, stepping up his challenge to the government as he led a 425 km (265 mile) protest march.

Erdogan accuses the protesters, marching from Ankara to Istanbul, of “acting together with terrorist groups”, referring to Kurdish militants and followers of a U.S.-based cleric who Ankara says was behind last year’s coup.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), hit back on Tuesday, defending his “justice march” and accusing the government of creating a one-party state in the wake of the failed putsch on July 15.

On the 20th day of his march, triggered by the jailing of a CHP deputy on spying charges, Kilicdaroglu signed an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against the election board’s decision to accept unstamped ballots in the April 16 referendum.

“Turkey has rapidly turned into a (one-)party state. Pretty much all state institutions have become branches of a political party,” he told reporters. “This is causing profound harm to our democratic, parliamentary system.”

Kilicdaroglu, 68, wearing a white shirt and a baseball cap with the word ‘justice’ printed on it, then set out on the latest leg of the march from the city of Izmit, around 100 km (60 miles) along the coast to the east of central Istanbul.

The protest has gained momentum as it passes through northwest Turkey’s countryside and representatives of the pro-Kurdish HDP, parliament’s third largest party, joined the march on Monday near the jail of its former co-leader Figen Yuksekdag.

There are deep divisions among opposition parties but Yuksekdag, stripped of her parliamentary status in February, issued a statement from her cell on Monday calling for them to put those differences aside.

“We must set up the shattered scales of justice again and fight for this together,” she wrote, saying justice had hit “rock bottom” with the jailing of 11 HDP lawmakers and around 100 mayors.

The party rejects charges of ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, designated a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, which launched an insurgency in 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

As the protesters advance, Erdogan has stepped up his attacks on the march, saying the CHP was longer acting as a political opposition.

“We can see that they have reached the point of acting together with terror groups and those powers which provoke them against our country,” he said in a speech to officials from his ruling AK Party on Saturday.

“The path which you are taking is the one of Qandil, the one of Pennsylvania,” he said, referring to the northern Iraqi mountains where the PKK is based and the U.S. state where Erdogan’s ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gulen lives.

Kilicdaroglu launched his march in Ankara on June 15 after Enis Berberoglu was jailed for 25 years for espionage, becoming the first lawmaker from the party imprisoned in a government crackdown in the wake of the attempted coup.

Since the purge began, more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial, 150,000 have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs. Ankara has also shut down 130 media outlets and some 160 journalists are in prison, according to union data.

In April a referendum was held on constitutional changes that sharply widened Erdogan’s presidential authority and the proposals won 51.4 percent approval in a vote, which has triggered opposition challenges including the latest CHP move.

Opposition parties have said the poll was deeply flawed and European election observers said the decision to allow unstamped ballot papers to be counted had removed a main safeguard against voting fraud.

(Additional reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan and Richard Balmforth)

Background: (Al Monitor)

Turkey’s main opposition changes focus from ‘secularism’ to ‘justice’

As I was writing these lines, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was marching on the highway somewhere near Hendek, a town 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of Istanbul. He had been on the road for two weeks, walking some 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) a day and resting at a hotel or in a bus at night. He had at least 10 more days to go. And neither him, nor the thousands of people who joined him for this remarkable march, held any party flag or partisan slogan. They marched only with one simple motto: Justice.

This is the “Justice March” Kilicdaroglu began June 15 in reaction to a court decision that sentenced one of the CHP’s deputies, Enis Berberoglu, to 25 years in prison. Berberoglu’s alleged crime was to help publish the photos of weapons that Turkish intelligence trucks were shipping into Syria back in 2014. This, in the eyes of the court, made him a criminal who “exposed state secrets” and carried out “espionage.” In the free world, however, people would probably just say he did something called “journalism.”

The Berberoglu sentence was in fact only the last straw. Since the July 15 failed coup, Turkey has been going through one of its darkest eras in which “justice” has become desperately lacking. The coup attempt, for sure, was a bloody episode that required a rigorous prosecution and a state of emergency. But after a few weeks of “national unity,” the government began to use the state of emergency as a tool to crack down on all opposition voices in every walk of life, from politics to journalism to academia. More than 50,000 people found themselves in jail, and another 140,000 people have been fired from their jobs. These arrests and purges were often based on nothing but suspicion, and someone’s political stance against the government was often seen as enough evidence of “treason.” Prosecutors and judges themselves faced the pressure of arresting more and more people to prove their loyalty to the system.

France 24 comments,

Given the unprecedented display of opposition from the CHP, all eyes in the next few days will be on Erdogan’s response to the Justice March.

His options range from letting the march end in Istanbul in a peaceful protest, blocking access to the final demonstration, allowing pro-AK party thugs to descend on the protesters or ordering a security crackdown. Coming as it will, just days before the July 15 2016 coup anniversary, these are options Erdogan will have to carefully weigh. “The Justice March is going to leave Erdogan with some unsavoury possibilities,” noted Eissenstat. “It forces him to either allow the opposition to oppose him on the streets or forces him to use force. But if it comes to seeing Kemal Kilicdaroglu in shackles that would be politically explosive. None of the options work out well for him.”

Written by Andrew Coates

July 4, 2017 at 12:12 pm