Syrian Kurdish refugees, who took shelter in Turkey after fleeing from the atrocities of the PKK terrorist group's affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), expressed their appreciation and called for other countries to support Ankara's initiative to clear out northern Syria so they can return to their homes.
"If we had not come to Turkey, we would have been killed in Syria. We want other countries to give support to Turkey for liberating our homeland [from terrorists]," Muhammad Nuri, a Kurdish local of Ayn al-Arab who took refuge in Turkey, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Nuri further underscored that he and his seven children came to Turkey seven years ago after U.S.-backed YPG forces invaded the city, and they want to go back to their country after the war ends.
"We want to return Ayn al-Arab when peace in the city is established. We would have suffered from the oppression of the YPG if we stayed there," Hussein Esbed, another Kurdish refugee who was a Kurdish teacher in Ayn al-Arab, said.
Pointing out that he took shelter in Turkey five years ago, Esbed underscored that although they are feeling very comfortable and appreciated the help of Ankara, they want to return to their homeland once the war is over.
Thanking Turkey for its support of the refugees, Muslim Haddal, who fled to Turkey along with his five children three years ago, also called for Turkey and other countries to help them return to their homes.
Syrian Kurds have suffered the most from the YPG's atrocities, although certain countries insist on equating the terrorist group with Kurdish people. Turkey, however, opened its doors to 512,708 Syrian refugees fleeing YPG-held areas, while another 300,000 Syrian refugees took shelter in Iraq.
Turkey has established the biggest tent city in the Suruç district of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa to host Syrian Kurds escaping from YPG-held areas. Educational and health facilities are provided in the tent city to help refugees live in a secure and peaceful place.
Not only Syrian Kurds but also Arabs and people of other ethnicities living under the terrorist group's rule have long been suffering from the atrocities. Numerous human rights organizations have documented the YPG's violations of human rights, including torture and recruiting child soldiers as well as deliberate disruptions of education and health services. The group confiscated properties of local people and destroyed homes in areas near the Syrian-Turkish border, such as in Ayn al-Arab and Tal Abyad.
Even children cannot escape the atrocities of the terrorist group and are forced to take up arms to fight, which is listed as a war crime by international law.
Despite having signed a pledge of commitment with an international organization in June 2014 to demobilize all fighters younger than 18 years old, the YPG recruited and trained children as young as 12 in 2016. In 2018, a U.N. annual report on children in armed conflict revealed 224 cases of child recruitment by the YPG between January and December in 2017, a fivefold increase compared to the previous years. Human Rights Watch stresses that the terrorist group continues to recruit children despite the objections from the family and children while preventing the family from getting in touch with their child. The organization documented 59 children soldiers between the ages of 10 and 15, adding that the YPG confirmed integrating children into their ranks. According to the organization's eyewitness accounts, 13-year-old Maisa Muhyiddin was kidnapped by the terrorist group from her school despite protest from her relatives. Another example is 16-year-old Sidra Muhammad, who was forced to fight for the group. Although the group said that Sidra was used for "traffic police," she was shot dead by Said Uthman in June 2015.