Former US religious freedom chair meets with Syrian Kurdish KNC opposition leadership
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The former Chair of the official US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Nadine Maenza, said she met with the Kurdish National Council (KNC) leadership in northeast Syria on Tuesday.
"Appreciated the opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) while here in NE Syria (Northeast Syria)," Maenza tweeted.
"Thankful for the warm welcome and conversation about our concerns and hopes for the region."
Appreciated the opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) while here in NE #Syria. Thankful for the warm welcome and conversation about our concerns and hopes for the region. pic.twitter.com/Tc8WEjDzsL— Nadine Maenza (@nadinemaenza) May 31, 2022
In previous meetings with Western diplomats and journalists, the KNC has criticized its rival, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), for human rights abuses.
The PYD dominates the civilian Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
Maenza also met female commanders of the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) and Badran Jia Kurd, a senior AANES official, during her visit.
She criticized Turkey for targeting the Tal Tawil Church in the Assyrian village Tal Tamr.
"This violates 2019 ceasefire and forces Assyrians who survived ISIS genocide to flee," she said.
Since April, the Turkish Army and Turkish-backed forces intensified their shelling and drone strikes on areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in both northern Aleppo and northeast Syria.
Tal Tamr has been frequently targeted after Turkey ended its major cross-border operation, codenamed Peace Spring, against Kurdish-led forces in northeastern Syria in October 2019.
After the operation, Russia and the US reached separate ceasefire agreements with Turkey to limit Turkish territorial control to Tal Abyad and Serekaniye and prevent future escalation.
In May, the Kurdish National Council (KNC) also said Turkey should abandon its plan to return one million Syrians, expressing fears over demographic changes in northern Syria.
In May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he is working on a new project that will allow the voluntary return of a million Syrian refugees to 13 regions in northern Syria.
Moreover, the Turkish president also threatened to launch a new operation amidst heated debates on the status of Syrian refugees in Turkey ahead of the country's June 2023 general elections.
"Therefore, the council calls on Turkey to abandon this project and calls on the concerned countries with the Syrian issue to take a clear position on it," it added.