Syria: Turkish forces violently clash with protesters and militia

On July 2nd, occupying Turkish troops clashed with protesters in the north of Syria, resulting in at least four casualties, according to the National.

The outburst of violence emerged due to unrest in Turkey’s Kayseri province after a Syrian man was accused of abusing a 7-year-old Turkish girl. A video allegedly showing the incident circulated online, triggering anti-Syrian riots to break out in the Turkish city, which led to businesses, homes and cars being burnt down.

Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Turkey has received over 3.6 million Syrians fleeing from the conflict. The large influx of refugees has led to anti-Syrian sentiments to rise within Turkey, a country that holds the largest refugee population in the world. Syrians have also borne the brunt as scapegoats for economic woes in the Turkish economy, with some Turks accusing the refugees of stealing jobs. The Syrian refugee crisis has prompted governments within the Levante to act through deportation and refusal of entry.

READ: Syrian refugees face deportation from Lebanon

The rioting in Kayseri led to nearly 70 arrests, causing further anger in Turkish-occupied parts of northern Syria. Local militias fought against Turkish forces in the former Kurdish-controlled areas of Afrin and Jarablus. Protesters were also reported to have taken over a fortified Turkish checkpoint in Atarib, northern Aleppo.

Protestors were reported to have been waving the Syrian opposition flag that secular rebel groups flew before the uprising against President Bashar Al Assad in 2011.

Turkish lorries were also shot at in the city of Al-Bab on the Syrian border, reported North Press Agency. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the UK, stated that demonstrations were “accompanied by acts of violence” covering “large areas” of the border strip occupied by Turkey.

The rebel-held Idlib region, controlled by the Sunni Islamist group ‘Hayat Tahrir Al Sham’, also saw protests, according to the Observatory.

Protestors tore down Turkish flags along with border guards shooting at demonstrators who attempted to storm the Jarablus border crossing.

READ: Rights group says Turkey is behind abuses in Northern Syria

Adel Al Faraj told AFP that he was protesting in solidarity with his “Syrian brothers in Turkey”. The protestor urged Erdogan’s administration to do more to stop violence against Syrians, adding that “Our people fled from [Syrian President] Bashar Al Assad only to be oppressed in Turkey”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed that arranging a meeting with Mr Al Assad was “not impossible.”

Turkey backed former Syrian rebel groups in a coalition known as the Syrian National Army (SNA) during its war against ISIS between 2016 and 2019. The Turkish-occupied area would allow SNA forces to police the border strip as a buffer zone against Syrian Kurdish militias.

The National and agencies

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