Turkish-backed Islamists threaten to behead Kurds in Afrin, spreading fear

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg    


Civilians in Afrin are increasingly worried about videos published on social media showing Turkish backed-rebels from the so-called Operation Olive Branch threatening civilians in Afrin, calling them pigs and infidels.

“To the Kurdish atheists, we say to them, we swear by God, if you repented and returned to God, then you are our brothers,” one fighter says in a video published and translated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). “But if you didn't, we see your heads have been matured and it's our time to pick them up,” the fighter concludes.

According to SOHR the video was recorded Sheikh Hadid area, which is located in the western countryside of Afrin. It is one of the villages that was controlled by Turkish forces, and Islamic factions.

Another video from the Sharran that was taken by the Turkish backed fighters on 6 March showed Turkish-backed fighters burning a Kurdish flag. Other video’s showed rebels calling Kurds pigs and infidels.

Zerdesht, 27, a Kurd from Efrin who fled to the Netherlands years ago, told The Region that the video’s show the nature of the rebels, and that the video’s create more fear among the population.

“This shows the real face of the Operation Olive Branch. Burning the Kurdish flag, and calling for placing the flag of La Illah ila Allah [There is only one god] in the heart of Afrin,” he said.

Moreover, he told the Region one of his family members was kidnapped and executed by the Syrian rebels.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain in the areas in Afrin under Kurdish control, that fear the Turkish advances.

So far, the Turkish-backed forces took control of 42% of the total of villages in Afrin since 20 January, including the strategic towns of Jindiris, Sharran, Rajo, Bulbul and Sheikh Hadid, the SOHR reported.

The Turkish-backed forces now threaten to surround the city of Afrin where hundreds of thousands are gathered, and thousands of displaced live that fled from Afrin’s countryside.

The French journalist Jeremy Andre who reported from inside Afrin for over a week, says the situation in Afrin is dire.

“[It will be] worst also because the people of Afrin supports the YPG, the PYD and the Rojava Federation project indefectibly. The children, the women, the elderly will fight, they will not abandon their lands. There will be no humanitarian evacuation, no mass exodus before the fight,” he said.

“The attackers of Afrin are ultra-violent radical groups, who already commit acts of ethnic cleansing (destruction of Yazidi temples, forced displacements), and want to destroy all the political and social progress in Rojava, like gender equality,” he concluded.