Syrian Kurds condemn ‘terrorist act’ in Afrin

Syrian Kurdish officials on Wednesday condemned the bombing in Afrin that claimed the lives of at least 40 civilians, including 12 children.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Syrian Kurdish officials on Wednesday condemned the bombing in Afrin that claimed the lives of at least 40 civilians, including 12 children.

“We in the Syrian Democratic Council condemn and denounce this cowardly terrorist act that targeted innocent civilians and threatens the remaining ones to move and leave their villages and cities,” the SDC, the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said in a public statement.

It called on the international community to fulfil its responsibilities and “work to end the Turkish occupation of the city of Afrin and all other areas that it occupied.”

Elsewhere, the SDF’s Commander-in-Chief, General Mazloum Abdi, condemned the “terrorist act” that led to the loss of innocent lives in a post on Twitter.

The SDF chief suggested the criminal act was a product of the policy of “destruction pursued by the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries.”

Abdulkarim Omar, the foreign relations chief of the Kurdish-led administration that runs the northeastern quarter of Syria, suggested the bombing aimed to “displace the rest of its indigenous population.”

“The international community must condemn this act of terrorism, and pressure [the] Turkish state to withdraw from Afrin and all the occupied areas [in Syria],” Omar wrote on Twitter.

The Kurdish National Council, a member of the Turkish-backed National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, condemned the “terrorist bombing.”

The KNC statement said the bombing came amid “terrible violations” by armed Turkish-backed elements against the people of Afrin.

The Kurdish faction underlined that the international community should work to enable the displaced people of Afrin to return to their homes, remove armed elements from the region, and hand it to its people.

The explosive device was apparently attached to an oil tanker and was detonated as it drove through the crowded market, an activist living in Afrin told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Read More: Oil truck bombing in Syria’s Afrin kills at least 40, including 12 children

Turkish-backed factions have controlled Afrin since March 2018 when the Turkish army launched its cross-border offensive on the Afrin region to target the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which controlled the area since 2012.

Turkey’s military operation led to the displacement of thousands of Kurds and the killing of scores more.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey for expanded Kurdish rights. The YPG has denied links to the PKK.

No party has yet credibly claimed responsibility for the incident. But the Turkish state has blamed the YPG for the attack.

Activists in the city claim they were planned by the Turkish-backed groups with the aim of spreading confusion and panic among the indigenous Kurdish residents of Afrin as part of a greater anti-Kurdish program of ethnic cleansing. 

Multiple human rights organizations and media outlets have documented large-scale human rights abuses by Turkish-backed groups in Afrin.

In February 2019, the United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a report charging that armed groups in Afrin were guilty of war crimes including “hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture, and pillage.” 

Read More: UN report suggests Turkish-backed groups commit war crimes in Afrin

As recently as early March 2020, the commission again released evidence that it had found reasonable grounds to believe that Turkish-backed groups committed war crimes.

Over 100,000 residents are still estimated to be in the area, living under the harsh security and economic conditions they have faced since Turkey took control of the Kurdish-majority region.

Around 170,000 displaced Kurds from Afrin currently live in Tal Rifaat and its surrounding areas, with limited support. 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany