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KURDS feared ethnic cleansing today as Turkish forces began bombing northern Syria ahead of a much-anticipated ground invasion after US troops withdrew from the region earlier this week.
Commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), General Mazloum Abdi, warned that Turkish troops “are preparing to cross the border” with a major offensive expected in “a matter of days.”
Thousands of SDF forces have mobilised to Syria’s border with Turkey and Mr Abdi predicted a bloodbath in a “major battle” with Nato’s second-largest standing army.
He claimed Turkish forces would attempt to ethnically cleanse Kurds as Syrian Arab refugees, who have been living in Turkey since their displacement during the war, were repatriated from its cosmopolitan capital Ankara.
“If ethnic cleansing happens in our area, or they kill Kurds and bring Arabs in, this will be the [United States’] responsibility,” he said, warning of genocide.
“That is the result of this decision. The result will be ethnic cleansing and change of demography.”
Syrian Kurds are bracing themselves for another Turkish military assault, coming 18 months after Ankara launched Operation Olive Branch — its illegal invasion and occupation of the peaceful Afrin region.
Tens of thousands were displaced during that intervention as Turkish forces allied with jihadist groups to drive Kurds out of their homes.
Despite accusations of extra-judicial killings and chemical weapons attacks, Western countries supported Turkey’s actions, saying it had a “right to protect its borders.”
Ankara’s latest war is also supported by Turkey’s Kemalist opposition People’s Republican Party.
Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to relocate around two million of his country’s 3.6 million Syrian refugees into the 480km (300 mile) long and 30km (19 mile) deep “safe zone” in northern Syria that he wants to control.
Ankara has been home to many of those displaced, thanks to a deal struck with the European Union to keep migrants from entering its borders.
But today the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) called on the neoliberal economic bloc to prevent a Turkish invasion and scrap the “irresponsible” migration deal.
ETUC general secretary Luca Visentini warned that the “completely senseless attack would send Syria back to square one” and called on world leaders to establish “a political transition to peace and democracy.
“The Turkish government’s plan to force Syrian refugees into a farcically named ‘safe zone’ proves it is completely irresponsible for the EU to deport people to Turkey under any circumstances.
“This must be the final straw for the disgraceful EU-Turkey migration deal.”
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