Russia aims to take Turkmens out of Syria

Russia works sytematically towards ridding existence of Turkmens from northwest Syria, says senior Turkmen commander

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

A man carries his two girls as he walks through the rubble in the opposition-held area in northern Syria

Updated Dec 17, 2015

Russian air attacks have targeted Turkmens with the purpose of taking them out them from the northwest of Syria and also to block their return to the region, Ahmet Arnavut, a senior Turkmen commander, announced on Wednesday.

Ahmet Arnavut, who has been responsible for Turkmen forces in the Bayirbucak region, said Russian air strikes were bombing empty villages.

“They are sending a message to Turkmens by destroying houses where no one lives - 'There is nothing left for you here. Don't think about returning',” he said.

Arnavut made a complaint about the Russian intervention in Syria and told Anadolu Agency “Within a month, Russia did what the regime could not since the beginning of the war.”

The air attacks has hit hospitals, roads, schools, mosques and homes.

The Turkmen region in the northwest of Syria has been targeted with heavy and violent attacks carried out by Russian air strikes and the Syrian regime's ground attacks that have been continuing since November.

Around 2,000 Syrian Turkmen, who fled the violence in their home country, have arrived in southern Turkey over the last several weeks.

Turkmen are a Turkic ethnic group based largely in Syria and Iraq, where they live alongside large Arab and Kurdish populations. The Turkmen community, which includes both Sunni and Shia Muslims, share close cultural affinities with the Turkish people.

Only 20 percent of Russian air attacks hit DAESH

Since the start of the Russian bombing campaign on Sept. 30, Russian air strikes have mainly targeted opposition-held regions rather than DAESH-held territory, killing civilians and factions fighting Assad's forces and clearing ground space for Assad to expand his control.

On this issue, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) published a new report on Tuesday, saying Russian air attacks had bombed only 20 percent of DAESH-controlled regions.

The UK-based report shows that only 27 out of Russia’s 138 airstrikes had targeted the DAESH control area, while the majority of air attacks were bombing opposition points.

During the Russian attacks, 583 people, including 570 civilians, had been killed since September 30.  

The report entitled “They [Russians] Came to Kill Us” showed the death toll involves 152 children and 60 women.

A girl cries at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in  northern Syria. (Photo: Reuters)

The SNHR also said in the report that Russian fighter jets destroyed at least 16 schools, 11 hospitals, 10 mosques, eight industrial structures and several opposition headquarters that were used to fight against the Assad regime and DAESH.

Russian attacks have also been forcing at least 120,000 Syrians to leave their homes.

The four-year-long war in Syria has so far claimed the lives of at least 350,000 people, while displacing half of the country's pre-war population of 22 million internally and in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan.

According to SNHR sources, between March 2011 and October 31, 2015, more than 188,000 civilians had been killed including nearly 40.000 women and children, large numbers of whom lost their lives during air strikes and barrel bombings in civilian areas by the Syrian regime.


TRTWorld and agencies