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How will Turkey’s military operation to establish a “safe zone” in northern Syria impact the future of Kurdish people across the region?
Despite a five-day ceasefire set by the US and Turkey, shelling and other military actions have been reported in Kurdish-dominated northern Syria. Around 166,000 civilians have been displaced by fighting, according to the UN. US President Donald Trump lauded the ceasefire deal made on Thursday, tweeting “Millions of lives will be saved!”. Others criticised the move as another betrayal of the Kurdish people by the US.
The five-day pause in Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring was put in place to allow Kurdish forces – which Turkey views as terrorists – to withdraw from an area where Ankara wants to establish a safe zone for Syrian refugees. Turkey provides refuge to about 3.6 million Syrians and says it is overwhelmed and receiving little international support. Aid groups, though, say Turkey’s operation could spark a humanitarian crisis.
Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria on October 6, clearing a path for Turkish troops to begin operations against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia – which had fought alongside the US to remove ISIL fighters from the region.
Turkey, the US and several European nations consider the YPG terrorists because of its links to the Kurdish PKK movement that has waged a more than three-decade long insurgency in Turkey. The PKK’s campaign for autonomy has killed 40,000 people since 1984.
In this episode, we’ll look at how the latest foreign policy moves in Syria will affect the region’s Kurdish population.
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