AANES: Turkish Attacks Intend to Eliminate Our People & Region
By KCS Editorial Board
“These Turkish air strikes against us are war crimes according to all international laws and regulations. There is no pretext that allows for the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure. But it seems like the Turkish regime does not care and is not abiding by these legal rules. And they have announced publicly that they will destroy our civilian infrastructure.”
— Bedran Çiya Kurd
On October 9th, 2023, The Kurdish Center for Studies held an exclusive press conference with Bedran Çiya Kurd, Co-Chair of the Department for External Affairs in the Autonomous Administration for North and East Syria (AANES) in Rojava. Journalists and academics were invited to attend the panel via Zoom.
The subject of the press conference was the Turkish attacks on the region which commenced on the 5th of October, and the current security and humanitarian situation following five straight days of Turkish attacks. Forecasts for the stability of the region as well as statistics for the damages caused by the airstrikes were also discussed.
According to Bedran Çiya Kurd some of the 180 civilian infrastructure targets bombed by Turkey in the last few days include: 14 oil stations, 9 power stations, 8 water stations, and 48 schools. With regards to the latter, more than 10,000 children now cannot attend school. Furthermore, the AANES representative highlighted that every house in the north east of Syria has been negatively affected by the ongoing Turkish airstrikes, highlighting the widespread nature of the damages caused by the recent attacks.
As a result, the representative noted, communities have no drinking water, which they fear will lead to disease and epidemics. Likewise, all other aspects of life have come to a standstill, including education with thousands of students unable to continue their education, as well as a disaster unfolding in the humanitarian section with international NGOs in the process of evacuating the region following the airstrikes near IDP camps, including the Washukani camp. The representative argued that no rebuilding or normalization processes could commence until stability and security were restored in the region.
On discussions around the pretexts used by Turkey to commence the latest round of attacks Bedran Çiya Kurd stated that:
“Turkey is using the attack on Ankara as a pretext to bomb our region. But all of these accusations accusing us of being behind that attack are baseless. It is just a pretext by the Turkish state to justify their attacks on us.”
He went further to argue that the SDF, YPG, YPJ and the AANES are not affiliated or remotely involved in the Ankara incident:
“We want to reiterate that we are not involved in any way with the Ankara attack. Turkey has claimed that the individuals who attacked Ankara travelled from northern Syria, but this is unequivocally false and not true. No evidence has been provided for their claims.”
As the discussion continued, issues were raised in relation to the future stability of the region with the Turkish airstrikes not only derailing the ongoing war against ISIS terrorism, but in fact empowering and enabling a resurgence of terrorism in the region. During the conference, Bedran Çiya Kurd emphasized that:
“Thousands of former ISIS prisoners are held in our camps and Turkey’s attacks undermine the security in these areas. These bombings will also bring a new wave of displacement in the region. But both of these are goals of Ankara.”
In relation to the topic of Turkey’s ongoing and massive damage to Rojava’s civil and vital infrastructure such as water, gas and electrical stations, Bedran Ciya Kurd noted that Turkey announced publicly that they will destroy and target the civilian infrastructure and that the international community has not condemned the attacks which will only embolden Turkey to continue them. Mr. Bedran Çiya Kurd stated explicitly that “No states are telling the Turkish state that they cannot commit these illegal aggressive acts.”
During the concluding remarks the AANES representative argued that:
“There are no signs that Turkey will cease these attacks. The mentality of the Turkish regime is built on committing massacres, and they see that their existence relies on them. They will not stop these attacks. The international community of democratic countries who call for democracy, human rights, and respect for the rule of law must take a clear stance against these illegal actions by Turkey.”
On the topic of the response of the Syrian regime’s perspective towards the bombing of their sovereign territory, Mr. Bedran Çiya noted that the Assad regime does not object to Turkish air strikes against the region and in exchange Turkey does not object to Syrian and Russian airstrikes against their allies in Idlib. It seems there is an agreement to look the other way. This shows the Astana process is not in the interests of the people in Syria, according to the AANES representative. Kurd further added that “Turkey is a dictatorial regime against their own people and against their own women. So of course, they will not follow the international laws when it comes to attacking us… It seems that Damascus does not want to stand against Ankara, even though these Turkish attacks are directly affecting their people and their areas.”
The subject of the US response to the recent attacks also elicited strong retorts from the AANES representative:
“There has been no major change in how the US has responded to these attacks. Although the US did have to shoot down a Turkish drone which endangered their area. We would like a stronger reaction by the American government to these attacks and expect them to support us since we are allies against ISIS.”
A discussion was also held in relation to the feelings and response of the people of the region following this latest Turkish attacks, especially considering their historical role in defeating ISIS.
“The people of our region did not defeat ISIS only for their own benefit, but on behalf of the entire world. So, we do feel like the international community and US-led coalition is not doing enough to stand with us. Our people feel like they are not doing enough. Our community has sacrificed their lives to benefit the entire world. But now these nations are not supporting us from unjust attacks.”
The AANES representative went on to note that:
“Our people are continually asking the bigger players to justify their inaction. People here are very angry and protesting against the silence of the US and Russia. Why are they silent when our people have sacrificed their lives to help protect them by defeating ISIS?”
The final concluding statement left the attendees with no uncertain terms that the objective of the Turkish regime is to encourage demographic change in the region, with the AANES representative emphasizing that millions of Syrians in the regime areas are also affected by the Turkish airstrikes, and that Turkey is also punishing those innocent civilians in their ongoing quest to harm the Kurds. Mr. Bedran Çiya Kurd concluded the conferences by stressing that:
“Turkey wants to commit an ethnic demographic engineering and force our people, the Kurds, to migrate outside of Syria. Turkey wants to deprive them of all essential services and all basic means to exist… All of the elements of Syria understand that these are not aimed at a specific political party, but they are part of a larger Turkish occupation plan to drive all the people away from the border so that Turkey can occupy these lands and never leave them.”