Turkey seen as liberator by displaced Syrians – report


Displaced Arab Syrians in refugee camps in Turkey see the Turkish military as a liberator in their home country, the National said in a report.

Many see “Operation Olive Branch” as their sole hope of a return to displaced lands, the National’s David Enders reported from a camp in southern Turkey.

Radwan Hilal, who left Tal Rifaat to the east of Afrin, said he came to Turkey in 2016 when Afrin was seized by Kurdish fighters and their political wing, the PYD.

“After the expulsion of the [PYD], my family, my relatives and more than 40,000 people from Tal Rifaat will return home after two years of displacement,” said Hilal, a 31-year-old doctor, who now lives in a refugee camp near the southern Turkish city of Killis, Enders reported.

Both Turkish-backed Syrian Arab militias and the PYD stand accused of atrocities against local populations. Fighters of the pro-Turkish Free Syrian Army (FSA) have been filmed threatening to take revenge against Kurdish towns for the removal of Arabs in other parts of Syria.

Residents from Tal Rifaat said Turkey’s previous “Euphrates Shield” operation in 2017 was a success as it expelled the PYD and left behind a zone managed by Syrian Arabs

“In the event of the liberation of my region, many like me will return to live and settle in addition to the displaced from other areas that may settle in my area,” said Ismail Aliwi, a doctor from Deir Jamal, another village near Tal Rifaat. “The camps are full of displaced people from the occupied Arab territories.”

Mahmoud Al Khatib, a 30-year-old engineer from Sheikh Issa, a village near Tal Rifaat, who is now living in Turkey, said the PYD displaced more than 150,000 Arabs from the villages they occupied, according to the National. They looted and stole homes, and imposed taxes and restrictions on the population, forcing them to leave, he said.

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