The village of Jinwar in northeastern Syria, an unusual community consisting entirely of women and children, was reportedly evacuated on Monday as Turkish forces continued to advance despite a cease-fire agreement.
Kurdistan24 News described Jinwar as a village “set up by local women’s groups and international volunteers a few years ago to create a peaceful space for women who want to live out of family-orientated roles and patriarchal society.”
Some of the residents are women whose husbands died fighting the Islamic State, while others say they relocated to escape from rigid social structures, or to keep custody of children their extended families wanted to take from them.
The name of the village literally translates to “women’s land” in Kurdish. Its population was never meant to be entirely Kurdish, however.
“We built a village not only for Kurdish women, but we have Arab, we have Yazidi and some of our foreign friends are also living with us,” one of the founders told CNN in May.
At that time, the full-time population of the tiny settlement included 16 women and 32 children, living in houses they built themselves from mud bricks. More recent reports suggest the population has roughly doubled since then.
Jinwar village is completely empty now. The women and children of the free women’s village had to flee the Turkish shelling & constant attacks. pic.twitter.com/BVqmo6JLfn
— Wladimir (@vvanwilgenburg) November 4, 2019
“It was a very hard moment and made us all very sad angry. Jinwar is part of the achievement of women in this region and part of the women’s revolution that has been realized by so many women here in the last years,” a female foreign volunteer from Jinwar told Kurdistan24.
The volunteer said the women of Jinwar took temporary refuge in other villages. “As soon as possible, all of us are returning to the village. We are supporting each other, we will continue to resist!” a Jinwar resident vowed.
Reports from other cities and villages in the region say the Turkish invaders and allied Syrian militia have continued pushing deeper into Kurdish territory in defiance of the cease-fire agreement, moving closer to a conflict with Syrian army forces dispatched to the region.
The Turkish advances have been accompanied by artillery fire considered threatening to civilians in the area. The Turks, in turn, say their units and allied forces have come under artillery fire from Kurdish positions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Thursday that promises to clear Kurdish militia units regarded as terrorists by Turkey from the border region have not been fulfilled.