Over 60,000 civilians in northern Syria have been displaced during the first 36 hours of Turkey’s invasion, the London-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday.
Turkey began its offensive this week with the backing of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), launching airstrikes with the aim of wiping out the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) from the border areas. As noted by the SOHR:
Turkish forces bombed areas around the villages of Zuhairiyah and Jam Sharaf in the countryside of al-Malikiyah. Also, the SDF shot down a reconnaissance aircraft in the skies of “Qasr Deep” in Malikiyah countryside.
According to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella organization largely composed of YPG and YPJ units, the attacks have already cost the lives of eight civilians, including an infant and a ten-year-old boy.
The Governor of Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan, told BasNews on Thursday that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is currently drawing up plans to take in thousands of Syrian-Kurds in need of refuge.
The KRG, an official autonomous community within Iraq, has long struggled to maintain friendly ties to the YPG and has diplomatic relations with Turkey. It has repeatedly asked the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist terrorist group that Turkey insists has ties to the YPG, to vacate Iraqi Kurdistan.
In a bid to draw support, Syrian Kurdish officials hinted earlier this at possible dialogue with the Assad regime, with Badrian Jia Kur, a senior adviser to the Autonomous Administration of North and South Syria (NES), telling Reuters that officials were now forced to “study all available options.”
“We may hold talks with Damascus or the Russian side to fill the void or block the Turkish attack, so this may develop and there could be meetings and contacts in case of a vacuum,” he explained.
Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus has shown little sympathy for the plight of Syria’s Kurds, blaming their current predicament on a supposedly foolish decision to ally themselves with the U.S. against the Islamic State. Many Kurds feel betrayed by President Donald Trump following his decision to withdraw troops from the Turkish-Syria border. However, Damascus did warn Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stay out of Syrian territory.
“Syria condemns in strongest terms the reckless statements and hostile intentions of the Turkish regime and the military build-up at the Syrian borders which constitute an outrageous violation of the international law and a blatant breach of the International Security Council’s resolutions which affirm respecting Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement via state media.