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Safe zone 'crucial for Turkmen in Syria'

Turkmen leaders tell Anadolu Agency why a safe zone in northern Syria near Turkish border would help them immensely in prevent loss of more lives

25.07.2015
Safe zone 'crucial for Turkmen in Syria'

RAQQA, Syria

A potential safe zone that could be established in northern Syria between Azaz and Jarabulus will be effective in eliminating the Daesh pressure and Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) threat over Turkmen villages, Turkmen leaders say.

Turkmen in Syria live in a fairly scattered geography. Two thirds of this population are concentrated in northern parts of Raqqa and in Aleppo.

The Kurdish PYD forces last month took Tell Abyad, some villages of which are populated by Arabs and Turkmen, from Daesh and merged it with with Cezire and Kobani, where Kurds live. Then, the PYD forced the migration of Turkmen by threatening them that if they do not leave the region “the coalition warplanes would stage airstrikes”.

About 750 people, living in the Hammam Turkuman and Al Iveyyid villages, 20 kilometers south of Tell Abyad, were forced to leave their houses and migrate to Turkey and various parts of Raqqa province.

Nowadays, the PYD continues to force the migration of Turkmen living in northern Raqqa, which it is fighting to take from Daesh, according to Turkmen representatives.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, a member of Tell Abyad Assembly, Ahmed el-Hac Salih said that the chairman of Ras al-Ayn (Resulayn) Canton, Huseyin Kocer told Turkmen to evacuate their villages. “People did not accept. Two people who objected were sent to Tell Abyad by the PYD forces,” he said.

Salih said that Kocer tells the people in the region, “If you do not leave, we will give the coordinates of your houses and schools to the international anti-Daesh coalition to bomb you”. He said such threats worked in forcing Turkmen to migrate.

He added that the PYD forces take the mobile phones of those who migrate in order that the deportation not to be documented.

In the first two waves at the end of June, PYD forced the migration of more than 5,000 people from the Hammam Turkmen Semelli region that they took from Daesh. Recently, they forced the migration of 8,200 Turkmen toward the Daesh controlled regions in Raqqa.

The PYD sources say their next objective might be Raqqa’s Sirrin region. It is estimated that after that they will jump to Jarabulus, with the aim of merging the Kobani and Afrin cantons.

Sirrin and Jarabulus suburbs are highly populated by Turkmen, who are concerned that if the PYD takes control, they may be forced to migrate in masses.

Syrian Turkmen Assembly member Ekrem Dede says his group wants “especially for a safe zone to be established in northern Syria”.

He said that the safe zone would pose a countermeasure against any possible deportation that Turkmen may face in the future, while at the same time rescuing Turkmen from the threat of Daesh.

Dede said that if the safe zone had been established Turkmen would not have taken refuge in Turkey but would have remained in settlements in the region.

The chairman of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, Abdurrahman Mustafa considers a safe zone between Jarabulus and Azaz to be a “crucial opportunity”.

He says they have been calling for a safe zone in northern Syria for two years.

“If the safe zone had been established, so many people would not have died in the barrel bomb attacks staged by the Syrian regime,” Mustafa said.

“If the safe zone had been established, now we would not be talking about the regime, the PYD or Daesh,” he said, adding that Turkmen support the territorial integrity of Syria and want all people to live under the same roof.

Mustafa said that the PYD forces are doing ethnic cleansing north of Raqqa. “If PYD forces take the control of Sirrin region, they will head toward Jarabulus,” he said.

“The safe zone between Jarabulus and Azaz would be a crucial opportunity for Turkmen who are fed up with Daesh and the PYD.”

He said that the PYD wants to merge the cantons, but warned that this is “impossible”. “We do not want that; the Syrian people do not want that,” he said.

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