NATO’s Turkey Strikes 8 Children in Kurdish Region of Syria

Families of the ten victims mourning their loss in Tel Rifat, Syria on Dec. 02. (Syrian Democratic Council)

By Azad F. Kurd


On Monday of December 2, 2019, 10 people were laid to rest – 8 of them children – after a Turkish mortar strike on a school in the village of Tel Rifat, Syria. Among the 8 children, the youngest was the 3-year-old Abdullah Fattah Aliko.

After the so-called withdrawal of the American troops in Northeast Syria, Turkey began its long-anticipated incursion which led to hundreds of deaths, judicial killings, and the displacement of thousands of civilians. The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) – the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – stated in a press release that no military posts exist in Tel Rifat, and that many people who are living in makeshift camps in the area are displaced civilians from Afrin, which is another region under the occupation of Turkey and its extremist proxies since January 2018.

The Syrian Democratic Forces suffered about 11,000 lives in the fight against ISIS and managed to defeat the territorial caliphate of the terrorist group in March 2019, but ISIS still continues to carry out attacks through its sleeper cells. The Kurdish led forces who fight against ISIS are now in a conflict with Turkey due to Erdogan’s ambitions to displace the Kurds and other minorities in the region, which he displayed on a map in the United Nations General Assembly on September 2019, prior to the invasion of Northeast Syria. The SDF is currently proceeding with the fight against ISIS, and Turkey. 

The frustrating part of this tragedy is the silent behaviour of the United States, who are currently fighting side by side with the Kurdish led SDF against ISIS, and the international world. The lack of coverage in the western media is also of grave concern when a war crime has been committed by a NATO member. The death of 8 children, along with 2 adults, should be an international outrage where Turkey needs to be condemned and prevented from committing further war crimes.

The NATO summit in London was held on December 3rd, the day after Turkey’s war crime was committed, and one of the discussed topics was Turkey’s request to designate the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) – a partner force in the formation of the SDF – as a terrorist organization. The YPG is recognized for handing ISIS its first defeat in the city of Kobane in 2014 but are now facing a “terrorist” label.

French President Emmanuel Macron came forward during the NATO summit by criticizing Turkey’s approach in Northeast Syria, “The common enemy today is the terrorist groups. I’m sorry to say, we don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table,” and went onto call out Turkey’s relationship with ISIS, “When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS (Islamic State) and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies.”

The 8 children who were 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 15 years old had their burial on December 4th. During the funeral, a peer who was saying his last goodbye to his 8 friends read a poem calling on all the Kurds to unite and resist against the Turkish invasion of Northeast Syria.

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