Syrian officials and representatives of tribes and clans held an important meeting in Ithriya town of Hama province on January 25, 2019.
Over six thousand delegates reportedly participated in the meeting. Representatives of all Arab tribes, Kurdish community, Druze sheikhs and even members of Chechen and Circassian minorities participated in the summit. According to the source, parties highlighted the urgent need to unite to protect Syria from foreign threats and assaults stressing the support of the Syrian army in its struggle with terrorists.
Turkey has threatened to launch a new offensive against the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria for months, and last week shelled YPG positions in the region of Tal Rifaat, of which they control a portion. But Erdogan held off plans for a full-scale offensive after President Trump made the unexpected decision last month to commit to withdrawing all 2,000 troops from Syria.
Now Turkey seeks to establish a “safe zone” in Northern Syria along the border with Turkey. “We expect the promise of a security zone – a buffer zone aimed at protecting our country from terrorists – to be fulfilled in a few months,” Erdogan said, referring to the the agreement, signed between the two countries in October, 1998. Under the agreement, the Syrian party committed to five points, all of which pertain to the activities of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK); Turkey considers the PKK to be a terrorist group with strong links to the People’s Protection Units and the Syrian Democratic Forces.
However, the participants of the meeting that recently was held in the Syrian town of Ithriya categorically opposed Turkish president Erdogan claim of the “safe zone” establishment in Northern Syria. They believe that the Syrians are the only ones who decide their national, political, economic and social options without any outside interference.
Any led by Turkey military operation can lead to genocide among Kurdish population living in the North of Syria how it was in Aleppo’s Afrin Canton. Local residents are periodically tortured by Turkish-backed militant groups.
— Afrin media center (@nre6172) January 20, 2019
In January 2018, Turkish military forces backed pro-Ankara Syrian mercenary fighters to clear the YPG from its northwestern enclave of Afrin. In March 2018, the operation was completed with the capture of the Kurdish city of Afrin. The flags of Turkey and Syrian rebel groups were raised in the Kurdish Afrin city and a statue of Kurdish hero Kawa, a symbol of resistance against oppressors, was torn down. Residents of the Kurdish city and Human right groups accuse Turkey and pro-Ankara fighters of kidnappings for ransom, armed robberies and torture.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on January 16 that all the territories in the newly proposed safe zone by Turkey should be returned to the Syrian government. “The idea of a buffer zone in northern Syria should be seen from the perspective of returning all of Syria’s territory to Damascus’ control,” Lavrov said during a press conference.