Will the YPG let refugees from Tal Abyad go back to their homes?

Published 16.06.2015 23:00

Many civilians In Tal Abyad are between the two fires of the YPG and ISIS

Two weeks ago, the Times reported that thousands of civilians in northern Syria had fled their homes since the People's Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the PKK's Syrian offshoot Democratic Party (PYD), carried out "what happened to be a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Sunni Arabs." During those days, reports from Syria were saying that the YPG had carried out operations in the cities of Tal Abyad and al-Hasakah to push back the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS).

According to the Times, Kurdish forces burned Arab villages in the areas under their control as part of a campaign against local Arabs. More than 10,000 fled in the last six months, the report said. It looked like what was happening was more than a fight against ISIS with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

There were other reports as well. Human rights groups in the region claimed that the YPG burned down villages around Kobani in order to ensure that it remains under Kurdish control while they killed Arabs in the area around al-Hasakah and burned their homes. The people who were forced to flee their villages reportedly said that the Kurdish forces were in fact the ones who threatened them and their families. They have already faced the evil of ISIS and now the YPG was coming to burn their homes. Many civilians were in between two fires.

In the last two weeks, more than 15,000 civilians trying to escape the region poured into Turkey's southeastern Şanliurfa province through the Akçakale crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border. Turkey had several difficulties with ISIS militants who tried to prevent the civilians from crossing the border and reaching Turkey this week. Turkey, the country being accused for having an open-door policy from inside and outside, was once again harshly attacked, but this time it was for acting slowly to open its gates because of security matters concerning ISIS.

The Prime Ministry Office of Public Diplomacy said that ISIS militants used force and closed the customs gate on the Syrian side ordering fleeing Syrians to return to the town of Tal Abyad. But at the same time, social media accounts and sources close to the PYD were spreading false information about the situation on the border with the help of doctored photos accusing Turkey for supporting ISIS while they strongly refused the allegations of ethnic cleansing against themselves.

There are thousands of villages and small towns that were first targeted when ISIS tried to take the area, some full of Kurds, some full of Arabs and others with both, all around the region. Officials in Turkey recently said that most of the refugees fleeing Tal Abyad and coming to border were Syrian Arabs or Turkmens rather than Kurds, and said that the YPG was trying to change the demographics in the region. "Ninety-eight percent of the region is made up of Arabs and Turkmens, but the PYD is changing the demographics of the region with aims to establish a Kurdish state by forcing Arab Syrians to migrate to Turkey," according to Şanliurfa's governor who spoke to a TV station last week.

Monday evening it has been reported: "The YPG fully liberated areas around Tal Abyad, and now the city and the region are under control of the Kurdish forces," while Turkish military forces arrested members of ISIS who had tried to cross the border to Turkey.

Now we are waiting for the YPG forces who control the border and the region to take the civilians back to their country and their villages if they have not forced them to leave their homeland and burned their homes in the first place.

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