‘Afrin will be your graveyard,’ Kurdish protesters tell Erdogan (VIDEO)
Thousands of Kurds braved the rain in the northern Syrian city of Afrin to denounce what they say is Turkish aggression. The protest comes as Ankara amassed its forces along the border, seemingly in preparation for an attack.
Demonstrators gathered in the predominantly Kurdish city Thursday to send a message to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “We want to tell Erdogan that his dream would vanish just as his dreams vanished when he tried to enter Kobani, so Afrin would be your graveyard,” a man filmed by RT’s Ruptly video agency said.
“Today hundreds of thousands are protesting to tell Erdogan that the people of Afrin would never leave their land. As the people of Kobani used to say, we will never leave our soil till the end, till the last drop of blood."
Turkey has been mobilizing its forces and tanks to the north and west of Afrin. The area is controlled by the Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG) which Ankara considers to be a terrorist organization as well as being a branch of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey is fighting the PKK in the country's south-east.
YPG fighters, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, have been fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria. But earlier this week, coalition officials announced they would help the YPG build a 30,000-strong "border security force," setting off alarm bells in Ankara. It appears that Turkey is now gearing up for a major offensive on Afrin.
"Today the people are protesting to assure that Afrin will never fall into the Turkish traitors' hands,” said a female protester. “We as people from Afrin, we will defend our city and those fascist Turks can't defeat us, we will be defending to the last drop of blood,” added a young man. “Erdogan listen: neither you, ISIS nor FSA [Free Syrian Army], you and all of your mercenaries can't break our will and stop interfering in our land and be aware that Kurds from all countries will come to defend us.”
The district of Afrin is home to around 500,000 civilians, including refugees from elsewhere in Syria. On Thursday morning, it was hit by Turkish artillery strikes.
The Syrian government has warned that any incursion into Afrin by Turkish forces would be considered an act of aggression. Damascus said Syrian forces would respond accordingly, including, shooting Turkish warplanes out of the sky.