The Turkish military incursion into Syrian territory has brought a dangerous new dimension to the conflict in that country, with severe humanitarian repercussions for the civilian populations in the targeted areas. These innocent victims of the latest surge of violence have previously suffered at the hands of both the regime and the terrorist forces and once again find themselves at the centre of a conflict they are powerless to prevent.
According to United Nations spokespersons and conflict monitors in Syria, the Turkish offensive has already resulted in the loss of civilian life and displacement of at least 5,000 civilians, a number that is certain to rise. Of the 324,000 people that currently live in the affected area, as many as 40 percent were already displaced, many of them more than once. Those who are most vulnerable are reportedly unable to flee, placing them at even greater risk.
The SI has consistently reiterated its support to all those working to establish a democratic, non-sectarian, ethnically plural and gender equal society in northern Syria. In the struggle to defeat Daesh, the SI recognises the role played by Syrian Kurds and the hardship and heavy losses that they have suffered for this cause. The SI also acknowledges the dangers created by terrorist attacks in Turkey and has repeatedly condemned such attacks. However, the Turkish offensive ‘Olive Branch’, risks not only destabilising a relatively peaceful area of Syria, but could jeopardise international efforts to eliminate Daesh and undermine the UN-backed peace process in Syria.
The Socialist International therefore calls on the Turkish government to stop military operations that undermine the efforts of achieving regional peace and threaten civilian life. Recognising the legal obligation of states, Turkey must allow humanitarian assistance to once more reach Afrin, where 60 percent of the population were dependent on humanitarian aid even before the current military operations began.