‘Source of Peace’ The Turkish Operation against the Syrian Kurds

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Giovanni Sale, SJ

 Giovanni Sale, SJ / Issue 2001 / 8 January 2020

The Turkish offensive against the Kurds of Rojava

The evening of Wednesday, October 9, 2019, saw the beginning of the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel – YPG). The Turkish government in Ankara considers them to be the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which they have officially declared to be terrorists. The purpose of the operation, called “Source of Peace” (or “Spring of Peace”), was to create a buffer zone on the Syrian-Turkish border east of the Euphrates.

The area is now home to a large number of Kurds and includes the city of Kobane, a symbol of the Kurds’ struggle against the Islamic State group (IS). It was from here that in October 2014 the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an alliance of militias led by the YPG and actively supported by the western coalition as well as by various Arab groups in the area – began to resist IS and the other Jihadist movements that had conquered the entire region. After years of bloody conflict, the SDF – which in October 2017, after a long battle, liberated the city of Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State – managed to conquer much of northern Syria (about a third of the country), called “Rojava,” which they organized under an autonomous administration, run on secular and in part democratic principles.

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