David Phillips, an American academic at Columbia University, said that “Turkey has been the lifeblood of ISIS since 2014, despite its claim that it is a member of the global coalition against ISIS, Turkey’s support for violent “Islamism” has been consistent and continues to this day”.
That was during a speech at the international forum held on Tuesday, May 10th, on “Afrin is between the Turkish occupation and international interests”, which was sponsored by the Syrian Democratic Council and the Human Rights Organization in Afrin and with the participation of many figures, academics, lecturers and jurists of Arab and foreign nationalities.
The speech addressed with Turkish crimes and violations experienced against Afrin, regions northeastern Syria and repercussions of the continuous occupation of Afrin on the future of the region.
“I will talk about the criminal behavior of Turkey and its mercenaries in northern and eastern Syria, and I will propose a plan to document war crimes and hold perpetrators accountable,” he said.
David Phillips, a Director of the Peacebuilding and Human Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, spoke about the beginnings of Turkey’s plan to establish a security cordon along the Syrian-Turkish border in 2016 and its threats to create a buffer zone over 400km wide and 32km depth. “Recently, the New York Times reported that Turkey renew its plan to return one million refugees from Turkey to Syria. Erdogan announced that Turkey will build houses and hospitals to make refugees to return, and according to the international humanitarian law, refugees shouldn’t be forced to return to their home and they should come back with their will and dignity where peace can’t be without justice and accountability is essential for peacebuilding.” He said.
The former diplomat mentioned numbers and local and international statistics documenting Turkish crimes and violations in Afrin with the participation of the so-called the Syrian National Army in which “local young men were recruited for Turkish propaganda forced to carry Turkish flags and appear in videos thanking Erdogan for liberation, the demography was changed, the Arabization of the entire area of Kefer sin, the resettlement of 4,000 Arab families of Arab fighters, moving 300 thousand families of connected factions to villages Sheh and Jenderes, changing the names of streets, forcing women to wear hijab, fleeing more than 300,000 civilians form Afrin to regions of Tal Refaat and Al-Shahbaa as well as displacing more than 300,000 people in the Operation of Peace spring in 2019”.
Phillips pointed out to the dual role that is played by the Turkish administration in combating terrorism where “Turkey has played a dual role, with Turkish diplomats pledging to fight terrorism, and for the Americans, fighting terrorism means fighting ISIS, but for the Turks it means killing Kurds, which reduces Syrian Kurds’ efforts to establish the Popular Democracy and environmental sustainability, also it reduces support for women’s rights in northern and eastern Syria. The recent Turkish threats and attacks in Kurdistan region of Iraq are promotion for war and support for Jihadi groups affiliated to ISIS and they are the biggest threat for the regional stability”
David concluded his speech by saying that “Despite the delay in justice, we are working for accountability in the future. To prepare for that day, we must have a file documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity, a database should be organized regionally and internationally, the identity of the perpetrators must be identified and the database must distinguish crimes by location (Afrin, Euphrates, Al-Jazeera,.etc) and the categories such as murder, rape, displacement”.
It is mentioned that Mr. Phillips is a Director of Peacebuilding and Human Rights program and previously served as senior adviser and foreign affairs expert at the US State Department during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, and his books on Syria include “Frontline Syria from Revolution to proxy war” and how America abandoned the Kurds and lost the Middle East.