Jeremy Andre, a freelance journalist based in Paris, France, and Erbil, Iraq, who came back from Afrin, says the situation will be worse in Afrin than Ghouta, if nothing is done, with thousands of civilians in Afrin.
“Back in Paris, after a long journey. I came back from Afrin, a Kurdish enclave in northwestern Syria where Turkey and Islamist militias are preparing to commit a bloodshed,” he said. “There are fewer deaths than the Ghouta for now, but soon, if nothing is done, Afrin will be worse,” he said.
“According to local sources, Afrin's encirclement is ongoing. Jinderes fell, the Turkish side is setting on the heights north of the city. The trap is closing. Urban fighting will begin in the week. Very few international journalists will be inside. I hope they will be heard,” he said on his Twitter account.
“In Afrin, the Turkish side is spinning a narrative imitating the media coverage of the battles of Mosul and Raqqa. As if eliminating YPG [People’s Protection Units] and PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] in Rojava was equivalent to eliminating Daesh and its caliphate. Journalists must debunk this obvious propaganda,” he said.
Moreover, he criticized the international media coverage of Afrin.
“In the cases of Aleppo, Idlib, Ghouta, but also Raqqa and Mosul, TVs have never had any issues about using videos of local journalists or activists - even from Daesh! [ISIS] Why are they not showing the Turkish strikes on Afrin then?,” he added
“Worst still because there is a complete failure of the international media to cover the conflict in a balanced way. The Afrin enclave is very difficult to access. The news channels are working only on the side of the Turkish side, following its communication operations,” he said.
He said there could be a humanitarian catastrophe if the Turkish backed forces surround Afrin.
“[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 added.
Local officials say 900,000 people are in the Afrin canton, including 400,000 displaced civilians. “They have nowhere to go. There is no exit to the enemy, to Turkey or the Islamist ‘rebel’ areas,” he said. “Or they could go to the regime areas, that would arrest the men and force them to serve,” he said.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) the Turkish warplanes are continuing to fly over Afrin area in conjunction with renewing the combat operations in areas in Afrin countryside.
“Also the area of Afrin located in the north-western section of Aleppo province, is still witnessing continuation of the interruption of water and electricity, after the Turkish forces tended to cut them off after they were able to control a strategic facility, which is Midanki Dam, a Dam that provides wide areas of Afrin with electricity and water,” the SOHR said.
“Tragic humanitarian conditions are worsening every day, with the Turkish attack narrowing the cycle of death, after more than 1 million persons have gathered in Afrin city and in villages around it, fleeing a death they fear that it may chase them to the place of their displacement,” the SOHR concluded.
According to SOHR, at least 204 Syrian civilians were killed in Afrin, since the Turkish attacks started on 20 January.