Amid media blackout | Residents demonstrate near Turkish military post in Idlib countryside, opposing Erdogan’s imminent military operation
As the number of residents expressing their rejection of the imminent military operation by Turkish forces in Syria, according to statements by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is on the rise, SOHR activists have reported a demonstration in Sarmin city in Idlib countryside, nearly one kilometre away from a Turkish military post. The demonstration was staged yesterday by tens of people who have been forced to displace from eastern and southern countryside of Idlib due to Russian-Turkish agreements following the latest military campaign by Russian and regime forces and Iranian-backed militias in that region.
According to Observatory sources, the displaced people chanted slogans against Erdogan and condemned the imminent military operation by Turkish forces, which is expected to target areas controlled by Syria Democratic Forces and Kurdish forces in north and north-east Syria, according press releases and statements by Erdogan who has also announced about establishing the so-called “safe zone.”
The demonstrators called for launching military operations to regain control of the areas which have been captured recently by regime forces and Iranians in Idlib countryside with the aim of bringing displaced people back to their homes instead of forcing indigenous inhabitants to displace from their areas and replace them with other displaced Syrian people and refugees. The demonstrators also opposed establishing cities and villages with the aim of resettling displaced people and refugees along the Syria-Turkey border.
SOHR sources have also confirmed that a total blackout by media outlets and activists affiliating with the Turkish government enveloped this demonstration.
SOHR displayed a report earlier this morning on the imminent military operation by Turkish forces in SDF-held areas, which will crush the hopes of displaced people to return to their areas, in the case that it is launched.
The report reads “since the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced an imminent incursion into SDF-controlled areas in north-east Syria under the pretext of “defending the Turkish national security and establishing a safe zone,” the region’s residents have been concerned about expected dramatic developments in the coming days.
Residents in north Syria region have had different views regarding the potential invasion which is expected to target several cities and towns, such as Al-Qamishli, Al-Malikiyah, Al-Darbasiyah and Manbij. Many residents reject such operation which enables Turkey to capture more Syrian areas and displace more Syrian people from their cities, towns and villages. They consider that the operation will besiege civilians opposing the Syrian regime in a small geographical area along the Syria-Turkey border and means that Turkey is attempting to circumvent its promises to regain control of the areas which regime forces and their proxies captured during the latest military operation.
Speaking to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a journalist known by his initials as M. A. living in north Idlib countryside has commented on the imminent operation saying, “Turkey could not care less about the plight of displaced people in north Syria region, and it only seeks annexing more areas under the pretext of ‘defending its national security.’ Since the latest military campaign and ceasefire agreement more than three years ago, over one million displaced people in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo countryside have been struggling with dreadful living conditions in refugee camps in north Syria region. Regardless the disputes between Turkey and Syria Democratic Forces, there are thousands of civilians living in the targeted areas, and they are threatened with displacement from their areas, in the case that a military operation is launched, while such operation will cause considerable damage and destruction. Moreover, such operation provides a golden chance to Turkish-backed factions to loot and seize more civilian properties, like they have done following ‘Euphrates Shield’ and ‘Olive Branch’ operations.”
The journalist has added, “on the other hand, this operation will not benefit hundreds of thousands of displaced people in refugee camps, who all demand return to their homes in regime-controlled villages and towns, not to be resettled in houses and properties belonging to other Syrian people who will be forced to displace. It is not logical to settle Syrian people in a specific region at the expense of other innocent Syrians. Most of civilians oppose this military operation and see it a part of Turkey’s efforts to entrench its presence farther in north Syria region. Turkey wants to remain in this region as long as possible, so it attempts to secure its border. This operation has to be countered and aborted in order to avoid a real disaster and crush the hopes of Turkey of obtaining further illegal gains in Syria.”
Meanwhile, a displaced man known as S. M. from Jabal Shashaboo area in the western countryside of Hama and now living in a refugee camp in Armanaz town in the northern countryside of Idlib has told SOHR, “this operation means that displaced people have to forget their areas and accept the fact that they will remain in north Syria region forever. Accordingly, the tragedy and sufferings of displaced Syrian people will last for a long time. Turkey cares only about its interests and disregards everything else. In the case that this operation was launched, the Syrian factions and militiamen will be thrown to fight on frontlines, while Turkish intervention will be confined participation of officers supervising the operation from command centres and Turkish aircraft, like in the previous military operations. Turkey has been all along exploiting its proxy Syrian factions to implement its agendas in Syria. Moreover, Turkey seeks to ‘neutralise’ the Kurds from areas adjacent its border. In the beginning, Turkey entered Syria under the pretext of ‘protecting civilians and defending their rights,’ and it claimed that it opposed the Syrian regime and would work on toppling it. Now, Turkey adopts a totally different stance, as it looks forward to capturing more Syrian territory in order to expel Syrian refugees in Turkey and send them back to Syria.”
The man hopes that this operation will not be launched, as it will crushes the hopes of displaced people to return to their villages and towns. He also calls upon Turkish-backed factions and Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham to exploit Russia’s preoccupation with its war with Ukraine and engage into military operations against regime forces and their proxies to regain control of regime-controlled areas, so that displaced people can return to their homes. The man explained that “this option is better than capturing overpopulated towns and cities by Turkey.”
On the other hand, a young man known by his initials as Q. B. from the southern countryside of Idlib and now living in Azaz city in the northern countryside of Aleppo shared his point of view with SOHR saying, “the military operation which Turkey wants to launch in north-east Syria region is unacceptable for several reasons. The most prominent of these reasons are manifested in the considerable destruction which will affect civilian properties; this, in turn, as well as the violent battles, will force the region’s civilians to flee from their areas and become homeless. Most of the residents in the areas which Turkey plans to invade are Kurdish and they are a main pillar of Syrian society. No wise person can accept a plan designed to displace these Kurds from their homes and land. Sadly, there are many people exaggerating when it came to Turkish intervention in Syria and expressing their support to such military operation, because of their disagreements with SDF, disregarding the fact that these areas are inhabited by innocent civilians having nothing to do with such conflicts.”
“The displaced people, who have been battered by the war and its scourges, including violent airstrikes and intensive artillery and rocket fire, oppose this operation which will force more civilians to displace from their areas. Every once in a while, Erdogan announce a new military operation under a different name in order to protect his interests in Syria.”
The man has suggested that the stance adopted by Russia and USA, which oppose this operation, is the reason behind Turkey’s hesitation to start incursion into Syria. Q. B. has explained that since the meeting held by the “Turkish National Security Council” on May 26, no decisive statements about military operations in Syria have been issued so far, although Erdogan had affirmed his intention to unleash a military operation in north Syria region in earlier statement.”