Turkmens in Syria say they’re being targeted by Russia

If anyone has ever read anything about the war in Syria, they'll undoubtedly know who ISIS are. They might have heard of the Free Syrian Army or Jabhat Al Nusra. But most won't have a clue about the Syrian Turkmen Brigades

Photo by: TRT WORLD
Photo by: TRT WORLD

The result of what the Turkmen say was an Russian air strike on one of their command posts

But now their political leader, Abdurrahman Mustafa, is working hard to make his voice heard - particularly because of what he says is happening to his people.

He says they're one of the victims of Russia's air strikes in Syria.

"Russia sees us from Assad's point of view, which is that we are terrorists. Whoever attacks Assad is a terrorist in the eyes of Russia.

"With Russia's involvement, Syria's war is changing design again. As always, Turkmen are targets because they are in strategically important areas. So first they attack Turkmen."

Turkmen have been in Syria for centuries. Many came from what is now modern Turkey - when it was part of the Ottoman Empire - and moved to the area which then became Syria.

Estimates as to how many of these ethnic Turks are in Syria vary widely from a hundred thousand to a few million.

But now they have a political body - the Syrian Turkmen Assembly - which operates inside Turkey and tries to protect its people's rights on the international stage.

The Syrian Turkmen Assembly says its people and land are becoming more of a target [TRT World]

Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, attended the meeting that set up the organization when he was prime minister,

The assembly is part of the western backed Syrian National Coalition and its military wing is inside the Free Syrian Army.

Abdurrahman wants Turkmen to retain their position in Syrian society.

"Regardless of what happens in Syria, we want Syrian Turkmen to stay where they are, because everyone wants to keep their land.

“We have been living in those areas for the last thousand years and the Kurdish PYD and Assad are attacking because they want to get our strategically important places."

He's not hopeful that the Syrian Turkmen will get all they want - but at least they are trying.

"It's international forces that will decide the fate of Syria, while thinking at the same time about their own interests. We are aware of that. But Syrian people and particularly Turkmens have been battling for freedom, democracy and human rights, and they will continue the battle."

Author: Andrew Hopkins