As Turkey's Operation Peace Spring nears its aim of securing the border from terrorists it continues to struggle with being portrayed by international media outlets as a "fight against Kurds." However, it is a fight against terrorism and has no nation, race, religion or ethnicity. This widespread propaganda is not based on any sensible grounds, say Kurds in southeastern Şanlıurfa province.
"I think that Western countries do not know of Turkish-Kurdish brotherhood and of these sensitive realities. They want to break our centuries-long unity, solidarity and those who live for the same nation, flag and religion," said Abdülmuttalip Akbaş, a young Kurd in Şanlıurfa on Thursday. The 25-year-old university student added, "The PKK and its Syrian affiliate the PYD [Democratic Union Party] today do not represent Turkish and Syrian Kurds. Terrorism cannot represent us, terrorism cannot break this brotherhood, no one can attack our flag, and no one can silence our call to prayer."
Speaking to Daily Sabah, Şanlıurfa's Akçakale district Mayor Mehmet Yalçınkaya clearly stated that slanderous statements about Turks killing Kurds are nothing more than propaganda. "This is our answer: half of Şanlıurfa is Kurdish and all Kurds support this operation. Five thousand Kurds attended a funeral in Akçakale yesterday. All together at the funeral, Turkish flags were hung on shop windows. Such slander is out of the question. Our enemies are those that want to cover the country in blood. Never have Kurds and Turks or Turks and Arabs had conflict among them in this geography of the Ottoman Empire, "the mayor expressed, adding that these people have written history during the War of Independence.
Furthermore, Syria's Independent Kurdish Association (SBKR) said Wednesday that Syrian Kurds support Turkey's ongoing Operation Peace Spring to destroy the terror corridor at the southern border. "The PKK terror organization and its extensions in Syria dragged not only Kurds but all sections in the region into a disaster," read a statement by them.
"There are 5,000 Kurds across the border. It is not true that Kurdish villages are attacked. On the contrary, 200,000 Kurds have fled from the PKK to [Turkey's southeastern] Suruç and [Syria's] Kobani and Turkey has hosted them. Among them were also Armenian people. On the other side, there is a 1,000-year-old church, this is an Ottoman region. If the Ottomans had a problem with that, would that church stand there?" stated Yalçınkaya.
He also stressed that allegations are just disinformation. "This operation is conducted against terrorism and terrorist organizations and is carried out to establish peace," Yalçınkaya underlined.
This presentation of "Turkey versus Kurds" is far from reflecting reality and Turkey's overall approach in dealing with threats to its security.
"Turks are Kurds, Kurds are Turks," explained Akbaş underlining the strong tie between the two. "As the only male child of my family living in Şanlıurfa, I am a young Kurd who is proud of being a citizen of the Turkish Republic and no one can lower our flag," Akbaş said adding that everyone is praying for the army conducting the operation.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border, anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the PKK's Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG), on Oct. 9.
The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.