Kobane Locals Voice Concerns over Turkey-planned ‘Security Zone’
Cooped up in his shop at the heart of the Kurdish Kobane district in north Syria, Kadou watches the news carefully on a flat screen as media outlets break the news on Turkey’s determination to establish a safe zone on its southern border with Syria.
“If Turkey imposed a safe zone, it’s as if it had declared war on the Kurds of Syria,” the 60-year-old says.
“The experience of Afrin and the areas of Jarablus and Al-Bab is stark proof to brutality, violations and abuses reported almost daily. Turkey does not want the interest of Syrians, especially the Kurds of Syria,” Kadou said without any attempt at masking his fear of a likely Turkish assault.
The buffer zone sought by Ankara lies along the border with Syria and at a depth of 30 kilometers and includes Kurdish-held cities and towns in the three Syrian provinces of Al-Hasakah, Al-Raqqa and Aleppo.
Turkey accuses the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) of being an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been spearheading an insurgency in Turkey for over three decades.
“I do not trust Turkey or the so-called security zone,” said Siyamand, 33, who works as an accountant at a fast-food restaurant located in Kobane’s central market, saying that such a zone must be under the control of international forces and not Ankara in order to be viewed as safe.
Kobane lies about 160 kilometers east of Aleppo province, right next to the Syrian-Turkish border, and has gained international attention after al-Qaeda’s Syria offshoot targeted the city in an attempt to take over it on July 2, 2014.
International air strikes led by the US helped to push back ISIS fighters, allowing Kurdish forces to eventually regain control of the town at the start of 2015.
“We will protect the gains we have made over the past years. We have not attacked Turkey and in turn, do not want to be attacked, but if it (Ankara) does launch an offensive, we will defend ourselves,” said Siban, a traffic policeman in his thirties.