Turkey’s offensive in north Syria, announced officially as Operation Olive Branch, ended with the invasion of Afrin on 18 March 2018.
Mass displacement of Afrin’s Kurdish-majority population has been one of the disastrous consequences of the invasion.
Spearheaded by Turkish armed forces, Turkey’s offensive has included tens of thousands of Arab and Turkmen factions organized under the umbrella of the Syrian National Army (SNA), who have been trained and had their salaries paid by Turkey, according to the Ceasefire Centre of Civillian Rights report, dated 27 July 2020.
Taking direct control of Afrin’s districts and villages, local jihadist factions have been continuously driving forced displacement and acting as a barrier to the return of Afrin’s Kurdish-majority population.
In the face of ever increasing demographic shift in Afrin, Committee of Local Administrations of Afrin region, formed by the local people as part of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and the representatives of the municipalities of Afrin region issued a press statement in the Til Sosin village located in Shahba, the neighbouring canton of Afrin
“With the support of Qatar and Kuwait, the Turkish state coordinates the demographic change in the region. A number of international organisations have documented the atrocities committed in Afrin, yet there is a silence in the international public,” read the statement.
Local administratives committee of Afrin emphasised in their statement that the “isolation of the Syrian Kurds, who reflect the identity of the region” appears to have been one of Turkey’s central goals.
“In Afrin, historical, cultural and sacred spaces are plundered. The aim is to destroy history. Moreover, Turkish currency and the Turkish language is imposed, Turkish flags are hung all over Afrin, the names of the districts and villages are changed,” they said.
Local administratives committee of Afrin also appealed to the international public to raise their voice against the displacement of locals from Afrin and against all atrocities committed by Turkey and affiliated factions in northeastern Syria.
“Around 150 thousand migrants live under harsh circumstances in camps in Shahba after having been displaced from Afrin,” read the statement. “Migrants in Shahba want to return to their home, Afrin.”