In a strong denunciation of the US State Department’s recent statement, Bedran Çiya Kurd, co-chair of the Foreign Relations Department of the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), condemned Turkey’s actions in Afrin (Efrîn) on Friday, accusing the State Department of taking a questionable position on the issue.
The dispute centres on a statement made by Matthew Miller, the spokesman for the US State Department, during a press briefing earlier this week on Turkey’s ongoing deportation and settlement of Syrian refugees in formerly Kurdish areas of north-western Syria. When asked if Turkey’s intentions were to change the demographic composition of Afrin, Miller responded in the negative, emphasising the United States’ gratitude to Turkey for hosting and supporting millions of Syrian refugees.
In Çiya Kurd’s view, Miller’s response was “unfair” and at odds with the reality on the ground.
Çiya Kurd asserted that Turkey’s refugee deportation plan aims to eliminate the Kurdish presence and is nothing but a blatant demographic operation, especially in Afrin.
Kurd recalled the incident at the United Nations General Assembly where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan presented a map outlining the forcible deportation of three million Syrians. The co-chair stated that the main aim of this map was to change the demographic composition of the region and erase the Kurdish identity. He also pointed to the establishment of dozens of settlements on the land of Kurdish citizens in Afrin, which he said was part of Turkey’s ongoing occupation and demographic change operations.
Turkey has declared its intention to return more than one million displaced Syrians currently living in Turkey to Syria and settle them in buildings it has constructed in areas under the control of Turkish forces and allied Syrian armed groups.
“While we stress the need for the safe and dignified return of all Syrians to their areas of origin from which they have been displaced for more than ten years, we consider what Turkey is doing today against the Syrians by forcibly displacing them as a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and the rights of refugees,” said Çiya Kurd.
Kurd also called on the United States to re-evaluate its position on the issue and take a stronger stance against Turkey’s practices. He stressed the urgency of putting an end to the demographic change operations in Afrin as well as the incessant bombings by Turkish drones, which have had dire consequences on the stability and security of civilians.