Salih Muslim warns of ‘dangerous’ demographic change in Afrin
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim has called on the United Nations to respond to the situation in Afrin and provide further protection to the residents who want to return home following Turkey’s military operation in the region.
In a recent interview with German Deutsche Welle, the former leader of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) highlighted the “gloomy” situation for the people of Afrin since Ankara’s months-long offensive ended in March.
Muslim stressed the need for “international pressure on Turkey” to put an end to the country’s unpredictable actions.
“Nobody can foresee how Turkey will proceed in the future. 137,000 people waiting on the border with Afrin. They want to go back to their homeland and will do so,” he said in an interview published on Wednesday.
“They [the residents] do not accept what happened in Afrin,” the former PYD leader continued. “We want these people to be able to return to their homeland. And when they come back, they must, of course, be protected by the United Nations.”
Turkish and Syrian rebel forces overtook the Kurdish-held enclave on March 18 where they declared full control following a nearly two-month long offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Ankara, who launched its military incursion into Afrin in January, claimed the operation was meant to secure its borders of YPG forces which it argues are an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), thus “terrorists.”
The offensive killed over 250 civilians, mostly women, and children, and displaced tens of thousands.
Since the climax of the Turkish campaign, Syrian Kurdish officials have warned of a demographic change in the Kurdish enclave as hundreds of Arabs and other ethnic components are relocated from other parts of Syria to Afrin.
“That’s a very dangerous policy,” Muslim said of the enforced demographic change. “This must come to an end, and Turkey has to withdraw. Otherwise, this will become a new problem.”