US commission chair expresses concern over possible Turkish attack on Kobani
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Nadine Maenza, the chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (UCIRF), is concerned by reports that Turkey might be preparing for an attack on the northern Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani.
Today is World #Kobani Day Celebrating their history defeat of #ISIS. I was honored to visit last Nov & April.— Nadine Maenza (@nadinemaenza) November 1, 2021
⁰The remarkable #ReligiousFreedom & gender equality conditions are currently at risk because of a threatened #Turkish invasion. US Gov should work to deter an attack. pic.twitter.com/vLO7abF1Ko
In a tweet on Monday, the anniversary of World Kobani Day, a day of solidarity with the struggle of the Kurds who defeated the self-styled Islamic State (IS) in the 2014 Battle of Kobani, Maenza underlined that the religious freedom and gender equality in the region are “at risk because of a threatened Turkish invasion.”
“The US gov (government) should work to deter an attack,” she said.
There are renewed fears that Turkey will launch another offensive operation against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned in early October that the Turkish military would eliminate all "threats" in northern Syria.
Last Saturday, UCIRF also expressed its concern over a possible Turkish operation.
“Turkey is seeking to isolate Kobani, a city of tremendous importance to the Kurdish leadership within the SDF, and place it under siege,” Nicholas Heras, a Senior Analyst and Program Head for State Resilience and Fragility at Newlines, told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday.
“Ankara is looking to signal to the Syrian Kurds, and to the Russians and the Americans, that it is the shaping power in northern Syria.”
“Having visited Kobani in April and last November, I am troubled with reports that Turkey is considering Kobani as a target in a potential invasion,” Maenza told Kurdistan 24.
“This is the city that sacrificed many lives to stop the growth of the ISIS caliphate. One must admire their bravery and spirit! An invasion here would mean many civilian deaths and the destruction of this wonderful city,” she said.
“In past areas Turkey has invaded and now occupies, we see egregious crimes that include killings, rapes, kidnappings, forced conversations, arrests for apostasy, and the destruction of religious sites,” she added.
She also said that there is religious freedom in the areas under the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), Kobani and all of the Kurdish-controlled parts of northeast Syria.
“Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, and all religious minorities can practice their faith openly and even change their religious identity,” she said. “That would certainly change under Turkish occupation.”
“USCIRF is deeply concerned about the consequences of another Turkish invasion and urges the U.S. Government to immediately engage with Turkey to cease all hostilities,” she added. “The U.S. Government has many tools, including the threat of sanctions, that it can use to deter Turkey from another invasion.”
“While I hope there is not a serious threat on Kobani, one has to consider all the posturing from Turkey indicating they are preparing an invasion,” she concluded.
On Monday, Middle East Eye reported that Turkey and Russia are negotiating over a Turkish operation in the Kobani area. In return for Russia’s approval for such an operation, Turkey would hand over parts of territory in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib presently controlled by its army to the Syrian government.
There were also rumors the Turkish army and the Russian army had a meeting in Syria’s al-Bab on Tuesday to discuss a possible Turkish operation.
Turkey is seeking to isolate Kobani, a city of tremendous importance to the Kurdish leadership within the SDF, and place it under siege.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters on Monday that there “is a lot of speculation on military operations that, you know, are beyond our control here at the Pentagon. So, I don't have anything on these reports.”
“Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces are our partners in the fight against ISIS in Syria, we take that partnership seriously. We continue to work with them, specifically and solely on the ISIS threat in Syria,” he added.
“And it's our expectation that, that kind of cooperation and those operations will continue. As for what the Turks might or might not do, I would suggest you talk to the folks in Ankara about that.”