ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish warplanes and artillery began bombarding Syria’s predominantly Kurdish northeastern town of Serekaniye on Wednesday, the beginning of an offensive Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called “Operation Peace Spring” that has since spread to several other areas.
Dozens are known to have been killed or wounded and the number of civilians displaced from border towns to areas southward south has reached 190,000, according to the Syria-based Kurdish Red Crescent (KRC).
Roughly 70,000 of those displaced are from Serekaniye.
Kurdistan 24’s Akram Salih spoke to one of them on Saturday, a woman who has carried her sick daughter, just a baby, from Serekaniye to Til Temir, over 37 km (23 miles) away.
“There is nowhere else that I can go. My relatives have been beheaded,” she says. “Where can I take this daughter to? I tried to take her to a hospital, but there was none.”
“What can I do?” she asked several times during the interview, not expecting an answer. Another reoccurring question was, “What else can I say?”
“Where are the humans? Where are the world powers? Where is America? Our people liberated Raqqa and Deir Al-Zor, but where are the Americans today? What happens to all those sacrifices?”
Turkey’s incursion began with heavy artillery shelling and airstrikes of several areas along the sprawling Syrian–Turkish border close to which are towns and cities run by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Attacks have continued since, killing multiple civilians, including children.
Ankara sees the leading component of the SDF known as the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey for expanded Kurdish rights.
The offensive began a few days after Washington announced the withdrawal of a number of its troops in critical locations in Syria as Ankara was gearing up for the attack. US President Donald Trump’s stated reasoning behind the move has often mystified allies or has contradicted earlier statements.
On Friday, amid mounting bipartisan criticism of the limited response to Turkey’s cross-border attack, the US signaled a major shift in policy during briefings given by senior officials, but for Kurds on the ground in Syria reeling from the past four days, this has provided little comfort.
“Why have the Kurds been abandoned? Kurds have been displaced everywhere,” said the woman, holding her limp child. “Kurds, do not rely on anyone. Do not rely on America or France.”
She spoke about her husband, a Kurdish fighter who she had not seen or heard of since the shelling began on Wednesday, saying, “I do not know if my husband is still alive. What is there to say?”
“To the Kurds in Turkey, hear my voice. This is your honor. Why are you so indifferent?” she said, her voice rising.
“I am your sister. I am losing my children.”