AFRIN, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24) – Civilians in Syria’s predominantly Kurdish northwest region of Afrin are resorting to caves after fleeing Turkish airstrikes and mortar shells, people there said on Sunday.
In an ancient cave in the Afrin countryside near the Turkish borders, dozens of people have gathered, seeking shelter.
Speaking to Kurdistan 24, civilians said they would not leave their villages for another country.
“We will stay in the Afrin region with the last olive tree,” a roughly 50-year-old man said. “We will sit under that remaining tree and not leave our homes and lands.”
Regarding the ongoing Turkish airstrikes, he said people have high morale. “We will not be defeated, we will win, we are strong, and we are not afraid,” he chanted defiantly.
A woman called Diya Khadija also spoke to Kurdistan 24 and described her village with a heavy heart.
She said people, homes, trees, and livestock had been the victims of the Turkish bombardment.
She wonders why the world and humanity are silent toward this aggression. “They burned everything and demolished our homes,” she said. “We have no friends in this silent, careless world.”
Over the past two weeks, all the villages near the border with Turkey were targeted in a heavy bombardment. Some communities were destroyed entirely.
On Jan. 20, Turkey began its operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin which has included heavy bombing on the countryside and only once on the city a few days ago.
However, there have been limited advances and achievements by the Turkish army or allied Syrian rebel groups.
Since the breakout of Syria’s conflict in 2011, the Kurdish YPG and its allies have set up three autonomous cantons in the north, including Afrin which borders Turkey.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Reporting in Kurdish by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Akram Salih from Afrin)