Afrin

The Assad regime and its allies have been building up their forces around the rebel-held Idlib province, in Syria’s north-west, in preparation for a major offensive. Some bombing raids have already been carried out in the south and west of the province.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are carrying out guerrilla resistance against the occupying Turkish army and its militia allies in the Afrin canton, a predominantly Kurdish area of northern Syria.

“Freedom” can be a very difficult word to define, but it is easy to understand when you lose it.

Solidarity groups, NGOs and Kurdish Associations are planning a global campaign across Europe, Australia, Canada and the US to materially support the people displaced from Afrin, in northern Syria, after the invasion and occupation by the Turkish military and allied Islamist groups.

I am almost four years old. I am on horseback with my mother as our family is being smuggled from northern Iraq across the border on a clear spring dawn. It is 1988 and the Iran-Iraq War is at its final, gruelling, violent end.

A cool breeze blows against us.

I stare up at the sky tracking the sound of the planes and anticipating the familiar silence before the bang of exploding bombs shatter the earth. The planes circle overhead, but this plane is different from the other planes we’ve seen so often.

Afrin, a city within the canton of the same name in northern Syria , is under siege by the Turkish military, supported by right wing jihadist forces, including al-Quaeda, al-Nusra and the remnants of ISIS. Fifty-two days after the invasion began, more than 290 civilians had been killed.

When a democratic uprising broke out against the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad in 2011, the regime responded with brutal repression. Aided by defections from the Syrian Army, this helped turn the mass protest movement into the armed conflict that wracks Syria today.

The defeat of ISIS in Syria last year raised hopes that the long-running war that has displaced more than two-thirds of the population might be coming to an end. However, the attempted Turkish invasion of the Afrin region of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan), which began on January 20, has underlined that the war is in fact intensifying.

Thousands of solidarity activists from all across the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria defied a threat of bombardment by the Turkish State on February 6 to stand in solidarity with the resistance in Afrin.

An Assyrian representative from Deir ez-Zor in Syria’s east who attended the rally said: “We say no to an Ottoman occupation, we say to all peoples’ of the region, we are one hand in the fight against terror, the terror of [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, and the terror of Daesh. We don't do this for any, except for our children.”

The statement below, “Message from the Women of Afrin to the Women of the World”, was released on February 3 by Kongreya Star Efrin, a confederation of women’s organisatons in Afrin (Efrin in Kurdish).

Members of Sydney’s Kurdish community and supporters gathered outside the Sydney Opera House on January 28 to protest the Turkish military attack on the Kurdish region of Afrin in northern Syria (also known as Rojava). Turkey began bombing Afrin on January 20 and has since begun a land invasion with the help of pro-Turkish Syrian opposition groups.

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