Washington, DC, January 23—
As the Turkish air and ground offensive against the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG in the Syrian Kurdish canton of Afrin enters its fourth day, IDC expresses serious concern over the invasion. In particular, Christians and Yazidis are expressing concerns over the participation of Turkish-backed Syrian Islamic militants who have been threatening religious minorities and targeting civilian areas.
On Tuesday, IDC Executive Director Philippe Nassif stated that “Americans of goodwill should be concerned about ongoing Turkish operations in Afrin since it destabilizes a relatively stable area of Syria” He added, “it is worrying to see people who fled the Syrian regime and ISIS now fleeing NATO member Turkey’s offensive. Moreover, these refugees are being denied entry into Syrian government controlled areas, making the Assad regime complicit in putting their lives in danger.”
The Afrin canton has served as a safe zone for refugees of the war, and currently around 15,000 Yazidis and 250 Christian families live there in relatively safety from the Assad regime, ISIS and other extremist organizations. U.S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, which include the YPG in their ranks, stems from the need to combat ISIS and close porous borders that jihadists have been able to capitalize on to terrorize Syrians.
IDC urges that a diplomatic solution be reached in coordination with the UN to prevent further bloodshed, and calls for safe zones be established across northern and southern Syria to help facilitate the return of millions of Syrian refugees, keep the Assad regime from barrel bombing civilian areas and prevent ISIS and other terrorist organizations from gaining power there.