The General Council of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) made a declaration about the Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s visit to Afrin and Azaz in north west Syria.
Azaz, 32 kilometres north-northwest of Aleppo with a population of 32 thousand, had become one of the first towns to fall under Turkish occupation in northern Syria during the 2016 “Operation Euphrates Shield”. Afrin, a large city and district in NE Syria of previously around 300,000 people, was occupied on the 17th March 2018 by the Turkish army and armed affiliated groups organised under the banner of the so called “Syrian National Army”.
Afrin had been declared a canton of what was to become the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria after the withdrawal of the Syrian army in 2012 during the Syrian civil war, with the People’s Protection Units (YPG) acting as the official defense force of the canton for six years. Most of the people living in Afrin fled and left the city during the occupation.
In the declaration of the PYD General Council, the Turkish state was accused of carrying out massacres, violating international law, perpetrating crimes against humanity and of genocidal policies and practices.
“The interior minister of the Turkish state acts as if the city he is visiting is within the borders of Turkey. This is a move revealing Turkey’s true intention to annex these lands just as they did when Iskenderun was annexed [annexation of the Hatay Province in 1939]” the declaration said.
“We condemn these steps by the Turkish state which leads to an escalation in the Syrian crisis. We call on all the related parties to take action for putting an end to the crimes of the Turkish state which is only encouraged by silence. Urgent steps are required to solve the Syrian crisis. The Turkish occupation must end, and the people of Afrin must be supported to return to their homes.”