Syrian refugees who fled territories under the control of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) to Turkey's Şanlıurfa province have called for the elimination of the terrorist group from northern Syria so they can go back to their homes.
"The terrorists damaged and destroyed our homes. We want terrorists to be eliminated from the region," Ahmad Soleimani, a Kurdish local from Syria's Ayn al-Arab, told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Pointing out that they would have perished in their hometown if they had not come to Turkey, Soleimani underscored that people are living peacefully and feel safe in the regions where Ankara previously had cleared YPG forces. He added that he is very thankful for Turkey's help.
Stressing that his seven children can continue their education in Şanlıurfa, Ahde Jamal, another Syrian refugee, said:
"If I had stayed in Syria, my children would have either been killed or forced to join the terrorist organization. We neither want terrorist organizations nor war in our country."
Asma al Hade, a mother of five, stated that her home and her relatives' homes and their valuable belongings were destroyed in Tal Abyad. She emphasized that every local wants to return to their hometown once the terrorist organization is expelled from the region.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in the YPG-controlled Afrin district in January 2018 and Operation Euphrates Shield near the Syria-Turkish border. Following the operations, thousands of Syrian refugees returned to their hometowns and life returned to normal in the cities with the help of Turkish humanitarian organizations.
Local people living in areas held by the group have long been suffering from YPG atrocities. Numerous human rights organizations have documented the YPG's violations of human rights, including torture, recruiting child soldiers and the deliberate disruption of education and health services.
The group confiscated the properties of local people and demolished people's homes in areas near the Syrian-Turkish border, such as in Ayn al-Arab and Tal Abyad. Amnesty International has also documented a systematic wave of forced displacement and home demolitions amounting to war crimes carried out by the Autonomous Administration dominated by the YPG in 2015.
The YPG uses child soldiers in combat by kidnapping them from their families. In 2018, a U.N. annual report on children in armed conflict, for instance, found 224 cases of child recruitment by the YPG between January and December in 2017, a fivefold increase compared to the previous years.
Due to the brutalities of the YPG, Turkey has opened its doors to 512,708 Syrian refugees fleeing from YPG-held areas, while another 300,000 Syrian refugees coming from the region took shelter in Iraq. According to a detailed October report by the Interior Ministry's migration management department, almost 20 percent of the 3.5 million Syrian refugees that Turkey hosts came from YPG-held territories, including 20,832 from Hasakah, 141,903 from Raqqa and 162,973 from Manbij and Ayn al-Arab.