By Syrian Democratic Times

Ilham Ahmed, Executive President of the Syrian Democratic Council, spoke at a webinar entitled “Northern Syria Since Turkey’s Invasion” on June 23, 2020, hosted by Thomas Kaplan at Justice For Kurds and David L. Phillips, Director of the Program on Peacebuilding and Human Rights at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. Sinam Sherkany Mohamad, Co-Chief of the US Mission of the Syrian Democratic Council, also spoke at the webinar.

Ahmed described the current Turkish acts of genocide against the Kurds as a “last push” of a genocidal policy lasting 100 years.

“It seems as if all the hostile factions throughout the history of the Turkish republic have come together in this coalition right now,” said Ahmed. “The republic for the last 100 years has tried to crush the Kurdish resistance, and has failed. And it seems as though the Turkish republic has now put all of its eggs in the AKP/MHP basket, and are going for this one last push to extinguish any kind of Kurdish desire for any status in the region… Any Kurd who is working for any kind of status for the Kurdish people is being labeled as PKK or just terrorist in general.”

Ahmed discussed the critical situation faced by the people of Afrin, North and East Syria, as they face a brutal occupation and endless human rights violations by Turkey and Turkish-backed militias.

“There are close to 200,000 people in camps just outside Afrin. No one is reaching out to help them aside from AANES,” said Ahmed. “I was recently there and all of them want to return to Afrin as soon as possible, but for that to happen we need to end the occupation of Afrin by these gangs and the Turkish army, but by the way these groups are operating, they want to turn this into a permanent occupation and not allow the people of Afrin to return.”

Ahmed addressed the extreme challenge in getting aid to the region.

“All of these camps are being run by the Autonomous Administration, with very little help from the outside. International organizations do support to a certain amount, but it’s just a very tiny amount compared to what it costs to run these camps. Part of that is that there’s actually a blockade, from all sides almost,” said Ahmed.

Both Ahmed and Mohamad stressed the need to re-open the Al-Yaroubiah border crossing for humanitarian aid, to allow aid to flow into the Afrin region. This crossing was closed in early 2020 following a UN veto by Russia. They also discussed the critical situation at Al-Howl camp, the Turkish occupation of Tel Abyad (Gere Spi) and Ras al-Ain (Seri Kaniye), the Kurdish-Kurdish dialogue, the relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government, Turkish politics, and other issues related to North and East Syria.