Two women from Aleppo in Syria – Şêrîvan Mihemed and Widad Helebî – who travelled to Afrin (Efrin) three years ago to support the resistance, have appealed to the international community to highlight what is happening there and have urged it to act against what they describe as “the occupation”.
The launch of the ground campaign by the Turkish military alongside Turkish sponsored Syrian rebel forces formed part of the military offensive called “Operation Olive Branch” by the Turkish government. The offensive was accompanied by dozens of airstrikes that targeted the Syrian Democratic Forces defending the district of Afrin in northeastern Syria on 20 January 2018.
Turkey’s Afrin offensive took place after a US government announcement that it would train an army to patrol Syria’s borders that would include the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a key component.
Two women from Aleppo, Şêrîvan Mihemed and Widad Helebî, were amongst the thousands of residents living in North and East Syria who travelled to the resistance zones in Afrin three years ago in order to defend Afrin when Turkey’s offensive began, Hawar News Agency reported. Şêrîvan Mihemed and Widad Helebî spoke to ANHA, detailing how and why they wished for an end to the three year “occupation” (as they described it) of Afrin. They defended the call for unity amongst the peoples in Syria.
‘We have seen the soul of resistance amongst the people’
“We have never been so afraid from the bombs hitting Afrin”, said Şêrîvan Mihemed, “because we have seen the soul of resistance amongst the people there. We have organized protests in the regions close to the war zone”.
Mihemed said that the Turkish state and the Syrian rebels allied to it have forced people to vacate their homes in Afrin: “Many people from Afrin have to live in refugee camps today. The actions of the Turkish state indicate that it is trying to join Afrin lands within its territories. The gangs may plunder Afrin today, they can cut all olive trees, but they cannot break the people’s desire to return home”, she said. “The people of Afrin will return to Afrin and they will re-construct their city. The resistance will continue until the refugees return to their homes”.
‘Afrin has never stopped resisting’
Widad Helebî stated that she continues to support the resistance in Afrin. “We believe in the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan, for an equal life and fellowship of the people”, she said. “Various peoples had been living in Afrin under the umbrella of a democratic society, but all the treasures of thousands of years of historical richness in Afrin were destroyed by the Turkish state. Afrin has never stopped resisting since then, despite the shelling by Turkish state sponsored forces”.
Helebî stated that she witnessed crimes being committed by the Turkish state in Afrin. “Whilst the women and children were killed, human rights associations have documented the manner in which there is no limit to the brutality of the Turkish state. The real owners of Afrin live in refugee camps now. International human rights organisations should act so that these people can return to their homes”.