New Turkish attacks against northern Syria before planned local elections (June 11)

Erdogan threatens military invasion

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) condemns the renewed attacks and threats by Turkey against the people in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES). “Last Friday, the Turkish air force once carried out further attacks against areas in the north-east of Syria. The air strikes are direct attempts to thwart efforts of the AANES to stabilize the situation in the war-torn region,” stated Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East Correspondent, in Göttingen today.

AANES had announced plans to hold local elections in areas under its control in the north-east of Syria. The approximately 3 million eligible voters in the provinces of Hasaka, ar-Raqqa, parts of Deir ez-Zor, and Aleppo will be able to vote on the co-chairs in 121 municipalities. “AANES is trying to further democratize the areas in its sphere of influence. From the viewpoint of Turkey, the Islamist groups it controls, as well as the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia, this initiative is a threat to ‘Syria’s territorial integrity’. In fact, however, they are doing everything they can to prevent democratization and the establishment of federal structures,” the human rights advocate stated.  

On Friday (May 31), the Turkish armed forces carried out a series of drone attacks against military positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), civilian facilities, and vehicles in the western surroundings of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious city of Qamishli in the north-east of Syria. Four of the group’s fighters and eleven civilians are said to have been injured in the attacks, local residents told the STP. Also, a vehicle belonging to the Kurdish Red Crescent was said to have been hit.

The day before, Turkish ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had threatened the Kurds and other population groups in northern Syria with renewed attacks and a military invasion. “We are closely watching the terrorist organization’s acts of aggression against the territorial integrity of our country and Syria under the pretext of a public vote. Turkey will not, under any circumstances or for any reason, allow the establishment of a "Terroristan" along its southern borders, in northern Syria of Iraq,” Erdogan had stated on May 30, in the western Turkish city of Izmir, where he visitesd a Turkish military exercise.

“For Erdogan’s regime – which supports Islamist groups such as Hamas, the Taliban, IS, or the Muslim Brotherhood – Kurdish people and other population groups in northern Syria who are defending their settlement areas against radical Islamists, are criminals and terrorists,” Sido criticized.

Under the guise of “fighting terrorism”, Turkey started several unlawful military operations in Syria – tolerated and supported by Russia and NATO – and occupied the predominantly Kurdish regions of Afrin in 2018 and Ras Al-Ain (Sere Kaniye) in 2019. Thousands of ethnic Kurds, but also members of the Yezidi, Alevi, and Christian religious communities were killed, and hundreds of thousands were expelled. In the occupied territories, a Turkish occupying power was installed based on radical Islamist structures. These structures are responsible for numerous human rights violations and war crimes.