Celebrations bringing together people from a variety of backgrounds took place in the north of Aleppo Province in Syria.
The event was held in the village of Maidanki, near the Maidanki lake, which is located to the north of the city of Afrin, in the northern Aleppo Province of Syria. The celebrations involved groups of singers, musicians and performers who incorporated their cultural backgrounds into their performances.
This event was supported by a number of organisations with their bases in Turkey, including the Syrian Agency for Rescue and AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency), among others.
“We participated in a play about childhood today. The play was beautiful and I hope you liked it. We sang Arabic songs and we were happy. The name of our team is the Happiness Volunteer Team and we have held this celebration in the seaside of this beautiful village of Maidanki. I wish success to all and to the Volunteer Team”, expressed one of the children participating at the event.
Afrin has a recent history of military conflict and mass displacement. The region was under the military control of the Kurdish-dominated People’s Protection Units (YPG), affiliated with the wider Syrian Democratic Forces, and under the political administration of the “Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria” (NES).
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and its Syrian rebel allies, then mostly grouped under the Free Syrian Army (FSA), launched military operations on the Afrin region in early January and they managed to capture the city of Afrin in March.
Thousands of locals in Afrin were displaced and fled to other areas of the NES, as many observers and witnesses talked of demographic change and human rights violations. Some locals have stated that they are unable to return to their homes. An insurgency group called the Afrin Liberation Forces has since come to the fore with the aim of re-capturing those territories.
The event is likely an attempt to promote social cohesion and peaceful co-existence, despite the recent history.