USCIRF recommends U.S. pressure Turkey to withdraw from northeast Syria

A combined picture of USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza and a convoy of Turkish Armed Forces in Idlib

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The U.S. Commission on  International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended the United States pressure Turkey to withdraw from northeast Syria, the commission’s chair said on Sunday, as Turkey continues to strike areas under control of Syrian Kurds. 

USCIRF chair Nadine Maenza met with Syrian Kurdish officials at the foreign relations department of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria on Sunday.

She said in a press conference that she had discussed several issues with the Kurdish officials, including the Turkish violations against the communities in the region, according to North Press Agency.

“It was disappointing just few hours after I arrived yesterday to find out that Kobani had drone strikes against civilians, killing one and injuring 11 including a four-year-old boy losing his leg,” Maenza was quoted as saying.

The Turkish military shelled Kobani city and villages around it on Saturday.

Britain-based Syrian Organization for Human Rights said rockets fell in Kobani and the villages of Kubarlk, Jarn, Kiltab and Qarmouhg in east of the city.

“In the report prepared by us we said that the area Turkey invaded and occupies have great violations and horrific crimes against Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and specially women in this community,” she added.

“In our report we made some recommendations … We also recommend that the U.S. government gives the Autonomous Administration in northeast Syria recognition as a regional, local government,” she noted.

Maenza said in a short video she tweeted on Sunday that Turkey was not bombing “terrorists” as it says.

“These drone strikes are in northeast Syria targeting civilians, causing destabilization which obviously is the point because Turkey wants to take more lands,” she said.

“It is important for the U.S. and global community to stand up against these strikes and push Turkey to stop.”

Since 2016, Turkey has seized swathes of northern Syria in four cross-border offensives to drive back the People’s Protection Units (YPG), and prevent a fresh influx of migrants from Syria.

Ankara has been infuriated by the U.S. support for the YPG and demands its NATO ally ceases its backing.

In separate agreements with Moscow and Washington in 2019, Turkey halted its offensive in northeast Syria in exchange for the withdrawal of YPG fighters 30 km south of its border, but has since repeatedly complained of violations and accused both countries of not keeping promises.

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