A group of Syrian Kurds held a demonstration in front of the European Commission Friday demanding that the EU take a tougher line against Turkey, who continues its military offensive in the Kurdish anclave of Afrin in norther Syria.
Ankara claims that its operation is directed against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (YPG), the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia that the Turks have labelled a terrorist organisation.
Dozens of people gathered in Brussels holding banners saying “Europe, where are you values of Human Rights and Democracy?” Many of them, including Akram Hamo, a resident of Afrin, who currently resides in Belgium, could not contain their emotions and erupted in tears when asked about their home city, where heavy civilian casualties are mounting as the Turks continue to surround the city.
“Turkey razes the ground our homes in Afrin and indiscriminately kills our children, women, and men every day there. The EU does nothing to stop this war or at least to condemn (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s actions there,” said Hamo.
Turkey launched its military operation aimed at clearing the region of the YPG – which Erdogan claims is a terror organisation akin to ISIS. Though the exact number of victims is unknown, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that 12 people were killed and more than 60 were injured as a result of Turkish shelling in the last two days.
When the Turks launched its offensive against a Kurdish militia in January, Erdogan said that the operation would be completed in “a very short time.” However, the things turned different on the ground, and now it looks like the Turkish Army could get bogged down in bloody urban combat.
On Wednesday, the UN said that the city was cut off from its water supplies as Turkish troops seized the main dam and water plant in the region.
Despite the humanitarian situation on the ground, the EU remains relatively silent about the situation in Afrin and has done nothing to sanction Turkey, a formal candidate for the European membership and member of NATO, for its actions.
On Thursday, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini said that the EU “expresses deep concern” about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afrin and called for the implementation of a Security Council resolution on a cease fire to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid and evacuate the wounded.