The residents of Kobani in northern Syria express their fears ahead of the impending Turkish military offensive in the region.
The recent initiation of the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria and the beginning of the Turkish military operation in the region have put the civilians living in these territories on edge. Those living in Kobani, right on the Syrian-Turkish border, fear that they will suffer the same fate suffered by those who were subject to Turkish and Turkish-backed military operations in Afrin over a year ago. As a result of those operations, thousands of civilians were displaced from their homes.
“We are afraid, some families fled because they are afraid that Kobani will be like Afrin. Residents of Kobani have been displaced before, but have returned to settle and send their children to school. Now, the situation is good but we are afraid of the Turkish escalation”, commented a local resident of Kobani.
Kobani is located within the territories governed by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AA) and controlled militarily by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkey’s animosity towards the political and military authorities in the AA led to an agreement between Turkey and US for the implementation of a safe-zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.
Indeed, trenches established by the SDF and International Coalition forces were dug up and removed as part of the safe-zone agreement. However, the US withdrawal has meant that Turkey has been granted free rein to conduct a military operation in northern Syria, putting the local civilians at risk of being absorbed into conflict.
Turkey is preparing to create an extended safe-zone that is expected to run 480 kilometres across the Syrian-Turkish border and 30 kilometres deep into Syrian territory. Turkey has declared that is plans to settle around two million Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey into this designated area, which is currently populated by millions of people of several ethnic and religious denominations, as well as internally displaced people (IDP) who have arrived from other parts of Syria.