Turkish authorities treat locals in Syria’s Afrin province as ‘foreigners’

Turkish authorities have reportedly issued foreigners’ ID cards to local residents of Syria’s Afrin province who have been living there for generations, according to local sources in Afrin.

A report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF) stated that Turkish authorities in Afrin province, taken over by the Turkish military, have also banned the use of ID documents issued by Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad.

Local sources also say that checkpoints have been set up in the entry/exit points in Afrin and that personal information is forcibly obtained from the ancient peoples of the city, the Kurds and the Arabs, and that people are being issued foreigners’ ID cards.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy on Monday announced that Turkey would be withdrawing from Afrin, according to a report by online news outlet Arti Gerçek on Monday.

Operation Olive Branch began on Jan. 20 with roughly 5,000 Turkish soldiers, supported by 10,000 Syrian Arab fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Turkey stressed that its goal to clear Afrin from the majority-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“We are leaving Afrin to the people of Afrin,” the site reported Aksoy as saying during a live press conference on state-run TRT television in Afrin where 32 media organizations from six different countries were in attendance.

The spokesman pointed out that the residents of Afrin allegedly established their own municipal parliament comprising Kurds, Turks and Arabs and that security and military forces were slowly withdrawing from the region.

“Turkey will continue to stay here for a while,” Aksoy said noting that he cannot at this point say how long it will take for a full withdrawal.

Turkish military and its Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies launched a military operation in Afrin, a Kurdish-majority area of northern Syria on January 20, 2018. Together with FSA militants Turkish troops captures Afrin in late March.

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