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Erdogan sets time for Turkish invasion of Syrian Kurdistan

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ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Saturday, reiterated a long-time threat to invade the Kurdish region of Afrin in Syria, this time stating his army could begin an incursion into the neighboring country in less than a week.

“If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will bring [the world] down on them,” Erdogan said at a provincial congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Kurdish city of Elazig.

“If promises made about Manbij are not honored, we will take the matter into our own hands. And, they will see what we do in no more than a week,” he continued.

He was criticizing the United States for its continued military support to Kurdish forces which liberated the Syrian town of Manbij from the Islamic State (IS) in 2016 despite fierce Turkish objection to any Kurdish expansion to the west of the River Euphrates.

Kurdish officials have responded to Erdogan by promising a fierce resistance and warned against any action, as the US and Russia continue to develop military and diplomatic ties with them.

Meanwhile, the Turkish army staged at least 36 mortar attacks on the Jandairis, Basufan, and Rajo districts of Afrin, as it deployed more tanks in the Hatay Province on the border.

The isolated canton in northwestern Syria, a part of the self-declared Kurdish-led autonomy—but, cut from the rest of it—has now for years been on top of the Turkish President’s agenda who fears effects of self-rule among his country’s restive Kurds.

He went on harshly attacking the United States for militarily supporting the main Kurdish armed faction, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), during the fight against IS, adding Ankara could not maintain an alliance with its NATO partner Washington.

Turkey whose borders surround Afrin from the north and west of Afrin already keeps troops in the east and south of the town inside Syria.

He said the objective of his deploying soldiers to the al-Qaeda-ruled Idlib Province last year was to block Kurdish ambitions of reaching the Mediterranean Sea.

Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad, a foe of Erdogan for the latter’s backing of rebels trying to topple the Damascus government, has also spoken of plans to crush Kurdish aspirations for autonomy.

In December 2017, he labeled the YPG and its multi-ethnic surrogate Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as traitors for allying with the US.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany



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Social media crackdown on citizens, lawmakers follows Turkey’s attacks on Afrin

- AfrinReu - Social media crackdown on citizens, lawmakers follows Turkey’s attacks on Afrin


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities launched investigations on Monday against scores of people—among them journalists, writers, and lawmakers—and arrested dozens of others over their criticism on social media of Ankara’s invasion of the Kurdish region of Afrin in northwestern Syria.

The chief public prosecutor’s office in Istanbul announced probes targeting 57 individuals for the crimes of “propaganda in support of a terror group, inciting public hostility, insulting the President, and sharing content that contravenes realities.”

Over the weekend, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke harshly of those daring to protest his army’s aerial and ground attacks on the isolated Kurdish enclave where Turkish airstrikes have killed dozens, among them civilians and fighters of the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG).

He vowed to “pulverize” them, directing his words also at the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), an opposition bloc already bracing an ongoing crackdown since late 2016 that saw its Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, nine lawmakers, 80 mayors, and thousands of members imprisoned.

In the Kurdish province of Mardin, Diyarbakir, and Mus, police arrested at least 30 people.

Journalist Nurcan Baysal and local co-head of HDP’s branch in Diyarbakir’s Bismil district Refai Baran were detained in midnight raids for their tweets and Facebook posts in support of the people of Afrin.

Three other journalists and authors, Ishak Karakas, Aziz Tunc, and Ismail Eskin, were also taken into custody by Istanbul police.

According to the Turkish Journalists’ Association, prisons across Turkey are home to over 160 reporters, photographers, writers, and other media workers.

Elsewhere, in Van, on the border with Iranian Kurdistan, the public prosecutor began probes against four HDP lawmakers representing the province at the Turkish Parliament.

In Dersim, MP Ali Oncel was the target of another Ankara-appointed prosecutor.

HDP Spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen and Hakkari MP Nadir Yildirim were already under investigations for their tweets regarding the Afrin offensive.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany



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Members of European Parliament condemn Turkish attack on Afrin

- EUparl - Members of European Parliament condemn Turkish attack on Afrin


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Members of the European Parliament on Monday condemned Turkey’s ongoing military operation against Kurds in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin.

Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, who is also the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, “strongly condemned the Turkish invasion” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).

“We stand with all the peacekeeping forces that call for an immediate end to the invasion and the withdrawal of Turkish troops,” Hadjigeorgiou continued.

“We express our solidarity with the Syrian people and the Kurds in both Syria and Turkey who are constantly threatened by the Turkish government,” he added.

German MEP Martina Michels also criticized the military operation in Afrin, stressing that “it is unacceptable that the Turkish army has been attacking Kurdish villages.”

“[The campaign in Afrin] goes to the heart of Erdogan’s long-held dream of destroying Kurdish self-determination—not just within Turkey, but in Iraq and Syria as well,” she said.

Meanwhile, French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat called on the international community to “act quickly by taking a stand against these operations and by bolstering our support to the inhabitants of Afrin.”

During a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, said she was “extremely worried” about the ongoing Turkish attacks against Syrian Kurds in Afrin.

Mogherini also noted that the violence might undermine the peace talks on Syria in Geneva, and severely affect the humanitarian situation on the ground.



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KRG PM to meet Abadi for second time this week

- AbadiKRG - KRG PM to meet Abadi for second time this week


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister announced he would be meeting with his Iraqi counterpart at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday.

During a press conference following a Council of Ministers meeting in Erbil on Monday, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said he had a “productive meeting” with Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad on Sunday and is scheduled to meet him again in Davos.

Prime Minister Barzani and an accompanying KRG delegation met with Abadi in Baghdad for the first time since the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum.

Barzani said he had discussed the salaries of public employees, oil, airports, and border crossings with Abadi, adding the KRG “will be in communication with the Baghdad-appointed committees sent to the Kurdistan Region to resolve all the outstanding issues.”

Barzani, who will attend the World Economic Forum, revealed that he would sit with the Iraqi PM and Minister of Oil once again, noting that the meetings between the KRG and the Iraqi government would continue in the future.

Regarding the end of an international flight ban on the Kurdistan Region’s airports, the KRG Prime Minister admitted it was still unclear when Baghdad would lift the ban, but said the relevant committees had been working to resolve the issues.

Barzani also explained that the KRG delegation’s visits to Tehran and Baghdad “did not result in any agreements as we worked on restoring the two sides’ relations with the Kurdistan Region.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany



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