January 29, 2018 – Fort Russ News –
– ASAFrance, translated by Tom Winter –
1. The Kurds of Afrin call on the Syrian state to defend their borders against the Turks.
2. Ankara wants the Europeans to be “on their side.”
The Kurdish autonomous administration of the Afrin region in northern Syria yesterday asked the Syrian government to defend its border with Turkey in the face of ongoing Turkish military operations.
“We call on the Syrian state to fulfill its sovereign obligations to Afrin, to protect its borders with Turkey from attacks by the Turkish occupier (…) and to deploy the Syrian armed forces in order to secure the borders in the area of Afrin,” said the Kurdish autonomous administration in a statement posted on its website.
The Turkish army launched field operations on January 20 in the Afrin region, and Ankara says it wants to take control of the city of Manbij in northern Syria. “We consider Afrin as inseparable from Syrian territory. Any attack against Afrin is an attack on all the inhabitants of the region and against the sovereignty of the Syrian state,” said Othmane al-Sheikh Issa, co-president of the Executive Council of the canton of Afrin. “That’s why we call on the Syrian state to come out of its silence” and face “this ruthless aggression,” he added.
On Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad condemned the Turkish offensive and Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Moqdad warned that Syria could shoot down Turkish warplanes. Yesterday, Turkish artillery and aviation again shelled the positions of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to support the efforts of pro-Ankara forces that are trying to break Kurdish lines.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also pledged yesterday to carry out the Ankara offensive during a surprise inspection tour at the border. Erdogan, who went to Operation HQ in the Hatay border province with the army chief and the defense minister, said that the offensive against the Kurdish militia People’s Protection (YPG) would continue “until the goal is achieved,” according to a statement from the Turkish presidency.
Since Saturday, nearly 100 YPG fighters and Syrian rebel groups have been killed, plus 33 civilians, most of them in Turkish bombing, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).
Ankara denies touching civilians. The Turkish army lamented three deaths. In the Turkish city of Kilis, a few hundred people participated yesterday in the funeral of two men killed the day before by rockets fired from northern Syria and attributed to the YPG.
In the Afrin region, the town of Jandairis, located close to a front line with the rebel protesters, was particularly hit by air raids and rocket attacks.
NATO, for its part, ruled yesterday that Turkey had “the right to defend itself,” but “in a proportionate and measured way.” “Turkey is one of the NATO countries that has suffered the most from terrorism. All nations have the right to defend themselves, but this must be done in a proportionate and measured way,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a released statement.
In a bid to defend the operation in Brussels, Turkey’s Minister for European Affairs, Omer Celik, said that Turkey wants the Europeans to be “on their side” about its offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia.
“What we want to hear from our allies and friends, what they should be saying is: “We are with Turkey, we stand with Turkey when it comes to fighting terrorism (.. .) especially when it comes to cleaning up Afrin from its terrorist elements,” he said. “We had clearly told our friends and allies that they should not support the YPG,” said Celik, assuring that Turkey had — unsuccessfully — proposed to Westerners to “do this together” before launching “all alone by itself.”