People of Afrin: We are not defeated, we will liberate Afrin

The people of Afrin who heroically resisted for 58 days and did not bow to the Turkish occupation, say “We are not defeated. We are honored by our resistance. Afrin shall be liberated.”

Despite a military and political support from the NATO and Russia, the Turkish state and affiliated mercenaries suffered severe blows from the YPG and YPJ forces in Afrin. In order to undermine the resistance in Afrin, the Turkish state started to massacre the civilians. First they cut the water sources in Afrin, then began to bomb the bakeries and hospitals. Yet as the people refused to leave their homeland, the Turkish army carried out aerial bombardment against nearby towns and districts.

Turkey carried out a mass murder against the civilians

The Turkish army, during the month of Afrin’s occupation, massacred 176 civilians including 27 children and 21 women, while 484 civilians were injured on the same date. As the people were resisting, Turkish attacks were carried out in a more barbaric manner. On the 52nd day of the attacks, 232 civilians including 35 children and 29 women had been murdered by the Turkish state – and 668 civilians injured.

Despite a UN Security Council resolution that announced one month of ceasefire in all Syria, the Turkish state committed non-stop killing against the civilians in Afrin.

In order to prevent a genocide, it was decided to evacuate the civilians

As the Turkish attacks were directly targeting the civilians and there was an imminent threat of genocide, the local administration in Afrin issued a statement on March 16, 2018 that they had decided to evacuate the population outside of Afrin.

“The resistance in Afrin has entered a new era. In order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, we have decided to evacuate the civilians outside of Afrin,” the March 18 statement by the Democratic Self-Administration of Afrin said in Shehba region. The YPG and YPJ forces changed their tactics and initiated a phase of guerrilla warfare.

Turkish state plot was challenged by the people’s resistance

Before launching the occupation campaign, the Turkish state had started to establish camps and set up tents on their borders with Afrin, expecting the Afrin population would be displaced to those camps. Yet even the intensified assaults did not make the people move towards Turkish camps. The people in Afrin countryside first left their homes to the Afrin city center, where, 53 assemblies welcomed the displaced and opened their doors to them.

The people did not accept occupation

The attacks on Afrin city center were intense and many civilians lost their lives on a daily basis, yet the people of Afrin proved to be decisive and did not leave their homeland. A decision by the local administration in Afrin convinced the people to leave the city for the sake of their safety. Almost 90% of the people of Afrin who did not accept Turkish occupation, left the city. A small number of the residents, majority being elderly, decided to stay no matter what followed.

175.000 civilians were displaced from Afrin

After two days of displacement process, 175.000 civilians from Afrin arrived in Shehba Canton in one day. The IDPs were welcomed by the locals in Shehba, they were resided in Ehres, Fafînê, Til Rifat, Kefernayê towns and 50 villages in Shehba. The Afrin IDPs’ lives were at risk as they sought refuge in a newly-liberated area still full of mines and bombs. Thousands of Afrin people were also settled in Afrin’s Shêrawa district, Nubul and Zhara towns near Aleppo.

IDP camps were set up in Shehba

The administrations in Afrin and Shehba regions mobilized for the urgent needs of the displaced population. The Administration in North and East Syria also offered its resources to support the process. Large camps were established and thousands of IDPs from Afrin were given refuge. Currently there are 3000 IDPs in each of the Berxwedan (Resistance) and Serdem camps, 500 in Afrin Camp, 637 in Shehba Camp and more than 100 IDPs in Veger (Return) Camp.

Re-organization of life

The people of Afrin organized a new way of life in Shehba region, and they are waiting for the liberation of their homeland. This population, with limited resources, founded their assemblies, councils, schools, hospitals and municipalities.

‘The international community turned a blind eye to this resistance’

Idris Weqas, an official from Afrin, was at Afrin’s Jindires front during the 58 days of resistance, and is a part of the management in Serdem Camp now. Weqas stated that the people of Afrin have carried out their historic humane duties, “They did all they could, we stood by our defense forces to the end. This was our humane and patriotic responsibility. Our people in Afrin shouldered their roles. We had our bodies against the Turkish warplanes. The international community decided to remain deaf. The most sophisticated weapons were used against our people; this was a crime against all humanity, because Afrin resisted Turkish barbarity on behalf of the humanity – yet the international community was blind,” Weqas added.

‘Afrin shall be liberated’

“We are not defeated. At wars, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose – but we are not defeated, the people of Afrin are still resisting. There was a heroic resistance at each and every location in Afrin. We are honored by our resistance. We will never leave Afrin to the Turkish state and their mercenaries, it will be liberated. We have our fallen martyrs in Afrin, we will not forget their sacrifices,” underlined Weqas.