Even Sky is now reporting on Turkey’s ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Syria

Sky reporter in Afrin discussing Turkey
Ed Sykes

Turkey stands accused of “ethnic cleansing” in northern Syria. And after weeks of poor reporting from mainstream media outlets, even Sky is now repeating these accusations.

“Unbalanced” reports

Turkey has the second-largest army in NATO. And for over 50 days, it has been attacking the Kurdish-held Syrian region of Afrin. The local Kurdish health authority reports that the assault has so far killed 220 people and injured 600.

Award-winning journalist Patrick Cockburn has slammed media reports of the invasion, saying that “there is no shortage of film of the suffering of civilians” in Afrin, but that:

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because these events are happening in Afrin and not in Eastern Ghouta… they are almost entirely ignored by both media and foreign politicians.

He also criticised in general “the unbalanced way in which the Syrian war has been reported by the media”.

And currently, he insisted:

Syrian Arab militiamen leading the Turkish attack on Afrin… are threatening to massacre its Kurdish population unless they convert to the variant of Islam espoused by Isis and al-Qaeda. In the past such demands have preceded the mass killings of sectarian and ethnic minorities in both Syria and Iraq.

Afrin city is now surrounded. The UN believes 323,000 people are trapped there. Kurdish leaders claim the figure is closer to a million.

“Ethnic cleansing”

But now, even the international media outlets Cockburn criticised are highlighting concerns about ethnic cleansing.

The Sky News report says:

the mourners accuse Turkey of carrying out ethnic cleansing. Whilst the world is focused on Eastern Ghouta, Syria’s Kurds claim a massacre is taking place, but this time in Afrin…

It continues:

The Syrian Kurds of the YPG were the West’s most reliable partner in the fight against the Islamic State [Daesh]. But now… they feel abandoned…

As the video states, Turkey’s aim is reportedly to ‘protect its borders’ and defeat the People’s Protection Units (YPG). But the YPG has received the open backing of the US and UK in the fight against Daesh (Isis/Isil) since late 2014. And only months ago, it defeated Daesh in its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa. Both US and Kurdish officials, meanwhile, insisted at the start of the Turkish invasion that there was no evidence that the YPG had attacked Turkey. In fact, Afrin was one of the calmest areas in Syria before Turkey’s attacks, hosting tens of thousands of refugees with little international support.

Where is the West?

There have now been numerous protests in solidarity with Afrin, from Paris to DüsseldorfStockholm to London, and Helsinki to Brussels. And politicians are also speaking out.

South Down MP Chris Hazzard, meanwhile, has called Turkey’s attack “nothing short of ethnic cleansing”.

But since the invasion began, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson has mentioned Syria numerous times on Twitter and Afrin only once, saying:

That’s not good enough. As London School of Economics professor David Graeber has insisted:

As long as Turkey is a NATO ally, and as long as our governments sell it arms, we must all demand action from our politicians. Inaction is unacceptable. Resistance is a duty.

Featured image via screenshot

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