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‘Where will we go?’ Syrians fear threatened Turkish assault

Jul 23, 2022

By Neelam Rahim

Ghazwan al-Atman thought he had found refuge in Manbij after years of displacement, but he now fears his family will be uprooted once more as a threatened Turkish onslaught looms over the Syrian town.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has repeatedly vowed to launch a replacement offensive in northern Syria in what he says is an operation to safeguard his country from Kurdish militias.

Turkey had launched a string of offensives in Syria within the past six years, last in 2019 when it conducted a broad air and ground assault against Kurdish militias after former US President Donald Trump withdrew American troops.

“Our people are completely exhausted,” Atman said, standing in his empty shop in downtown Manbij, which lies just 30 kilometres (less than 20 miles) from Syria’s border with Turkey.

“We enjoyed safety and security here. Now, we do not know where to travel.”

The market where he set up shop is typically bustling with customers, but they have now been reduced to a trickle.

Atman said his family settled in Manbij in 2018, having already been displaced “four or five times”.

The 43-year-old built a house and established his business “from scratch” but is now ready to flee again as he fears for the lives of his children.

“War has destroyed me… All we wish is stability in this country,” he said.

The threat of a replacement assault has intensified, with Turkey saying Thursday it never seeks “permission for our military operations” despite failing to urge the green light from Russia and Iran in the week.

Turkish media said any potential operation is unlikely to require place before the top of August or early September.

Analysts have warned an attack on densely populated Manbij would cause mass displacement and suffering.

Source, AFP 


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