Turkey crosses Syrian Kurdistan border
AFRIN, Syrian Kurdistan (K24) – On Monday, locals reported that Turkish forces swept into Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) near the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in northern Syria.
Turkish troops with bulldozers entered the Syrian Kurdish village of Hamam, 20 kilometers west of Afrin, after removing the border barbed wires, villagers told K24 on Monday.
"It was early in the morning when heavily armed troops with vehicles removed the border wires and crossed into the village," a local told K24.
A bulldozer driver told the villagers that the operation was a security measure meant to fortify the borders.
Other soldiers said that the Turkish government started a campaign in order to maintain the border fences and install them in their proper places.
The Kurdish security office of Afrin said no clashes took place during the operation, except for a few verbal altercations between the Turkish troops and a group of village elders.
Many residents said they were angry because the Turkish troops destroyed the village cemetery and tramped down the graves in a humiliating manner.
"It is not easy when strangers break into your home without permission," an elder told K24, noting that borders and tombs are sanctuaries.
Turkey has repeatedly assaulted its southern borders with Syria since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
In one instance, on December 23, 2015, Turkish troops entered the villages of Sermisax and Banokiya, east of Qamishlo in Rojava without clashing with Asayish forces.
Once more, in February 2015, the Turkish Army crossed the Syrian border in northern Aleppo to rescue about 40 soldiers who had been surrounded for months by Islamic State militants, while also guarding the tomb of a revered Turkish figure.
Reporting by Hisham Arafat
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Mohemed Billo contributed to this report from Afrin)