Claim: Turkey wants to change region’s demographic in Peace Spring Operation

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Claim: Turkey wants to change region’s demographic in Peace Spring Operation

2019-10-13 01:19 BST
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Reports of Right Groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch document that it is the PKK affiliated YPG terror group which carried out systematic abuses and forced displacement in areas under its control

Satellite imagery from Husseinya village in Tell Abyad countryside which was razed to the ground after taken by YPG militants in June 2015

On 9 October 2019, Turkey has started its third military incursion inside Syria with the intent to wipe out the PKK terror group affiliated YPG in northern Syria and create a safe zone for the Syrian refugees in Turkey whose numbers reach 3.6 million.

Since then, certain circles of international community including politicians and media outlets started to voice their opposition against Turkey’s military operation. Some media outlets claimed Turkey’s operation would change the region’s demographic while others even went further by accusing Turkey of “ethnic cleansing” against the Kurds.

However, in addition that those claims against Turkey are unfounded, it was the YPG militia which effectively changed the region’s demographics in the last four years with the US military and logistic support under the guise of fighting DAESH.

Amnesty International published a report in 2015 titled “US ally’s razing of villages amounts to war crimes”. There, the fact-finding mission documented systematic forced displacement of the local Arab population by the PKK affiliated militia in order to create “a Kurdish state” which would connect the Kurdish enclaves Kobane and Hasaka in northern Syria, controlled by the YPG.

Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International stated:

By deliberately demolishing civilian homes, in some cases razing and burning entire villages, displacing their inhabitants with no justifiable military grounds, the Autonomous Administration is abusing its authority and brazenly flouting international humanitarian law, in attacks that amount to war crimes.

Local residents told Amnesty that the militia were threatening them to give their village’s coordinates as DAESH targets to the US-led coalition for airstrikes if they failed to leave.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) also reported wide abuses under the control of the YPG in three detailed reports between 2014 and 2018.1 The HRW also pointed out the examples of forced displacement and the intent to suppress the Arab culture. By changing the names of the towns that they seized from Arabic language into Kurdish (such as Tell Abyad to Girê Spî‎ and Ras al-Ayn to Serê Kaniyê, the YPG again clearly demonstrated this intent.

Currently, Turkey is conducting its military operation in Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, two towns which have been the center of human rights abuses and systematic forced displacements by the YPG. Turkey has no problem with the Syrian Kurds as the country itself took in more than 200.000 Syrian Kurds who fled the YPG’s forced conscription and other oppressions. Turkey’s operation aims to return the local Kurds, Arabs, Muslims and Christians who had to leave their homes because of a terrorist organization’s agenda. Consequently, if Turkey’s operation has a role in the issue of ethnic cleansing or displacements, that role would be correcting the wrong.