New attacks on north-east Syria

Overview on recent attacks: Turkish crimes in the run up to Elections in North-East Syria

May 2024

Picture: @ScharoMaroof / @__SeyyidAhmed

For weeks, Turkey has been launching massive artillery attacks on areas in northern and eastern Syria. The regions most affected are around Minbic, Shehba, and Ain Issa.

Minbic is located 30 kilometers south of the Turkish border and holds a crucial strategic position in Turkey’s plans to expand its illegal occupation zone in Syria. The city, administered by DAANES, is situated on the important M4 highway, which runs through northern Syria like a lifeline. This route was previously a strategic supply line for the terrorist group “Islamic State” (IS).

In the region of Shehba, north of Aleppo, hundreds of thousands of displaced people from Efrîn live.

On May 18th, villages in the Shehba area were subjected to artillery and mortar attacks, causing severe injuries to a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old boy. Faris Xelef Ibrahim, aged 13, underwent an emergency leg amputation procedure. Despite the dedicated efforts doctors were not able to save his life. He passed away the following day.

On May 23, Turkey and Turkish-backed Islamist troops shelled a dozen villages around Minbic with more than 200 artillery shells. One rocket hit the house of Fateem Al-Dandan, killing the 55-year-old woman on the spot. Her husband was seriously injured and taken to a nearby hospital. Five other people were also injured, some of them seriously.

The attacks by Turkey have targeted not only civilian areas but also agricultural lands. Between May 4th and 7th alone, more than 30 different locations were bombarded. As a result, wheat fields burned for days, destroying a significant part of the wheat harvest in the Euphrates region. According to estimates by the Democratic Autonomous Administration, 500 hectares of grain crops and 18,000 olive trees have been destroyed in the attacks of recent weeks. Destruction on this scale poses an acute threat to the region, which is predominantly dependent on agriculture.The deliberate destruction of agricultural land is considered a war crime under international law. However, Turkey has been using this tactic against the population for years.

A few days ago, Turkey-aligned groups set fire to agricultural lands near the frontline close to Zarghan. The local population remains on high alert around the clock, guarding their fields to act immediately in case of a fire. The HPC (Civil Defence Forces) have set up watch posts on many agricultural sites.
Villages on the northern front of Minbic continue to face artillery bombardment, and the SDF reported thwarting infiltration attempts by Turkey-aligned Islamist militias.

Fears of further escalation in northeastern Syria by Turkey are growing. This follows a sudden legal amendment by the Erdogan regime, granting the president authority to declare war and mobilize forces, and recent statements from MHP leaders calling for cooperation with Assad against the YPG.

Amid renewed attacks by Turkey, preparations for the municipal elections in northeastern Syria are in full swing. In mid-June, millions will go to the polls to elect their representatives in the grassroots democratic structures of the people’s councils and the co-chairs of the municipalities. This extraordinary democratic model, which protects minority rights and guarantees women a central role in all aspects of life, is a thorn in Turkey’s side. It is highly likely that Turkey and ISIS will attempt to sabotage the elections.

Riseup4Rojava Network, 28.05.2024

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