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Protests against Turkiye military presence sweeps through northern Syria, leaving 4 dead

7 Syrian protesters were killed by Turkish soldiers in northern Syria yesterday. The protest in the Turkish-controlled border strip followed a rampage a day earlier against Syrian businesses and properties in central Turkiye, where a Syrian man had been accused of abusing a child.

July 2, 2024 at 7:55 pm

Riots swept through northern Syria this week against Turkish forces’ presence in the territory, as racist attacks against Syrians in Turkiye escalate and Ankara considers reconciliation with the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

Following allegations on Sunday that a Syrian man had sexually assaulted a young girl in the central city of Kayseri, Turkish civilians launched numerous violent attacks against Syrians throughout the country, drastically increasing the already-tense discrimination within the country.

Turkish Interior Minister, Ali Yerlikaya, later announced that authorities detained 474 people in connection with the violence against Syrians in the country, in an effort to calm the tensions.

Despite that, protests then swept throughout areas in northern Syria against the Turkish military presence, with protestors throwing stones at, attacking and burning lorries carrying Turkish goods. Those tensions escalated significantly further today when armed men and militia fighters – many of whom were reportedly linked with the militia Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HT – attacked positions of Turkish troops and fighters of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA).

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Turkish forces reportedly responded by firing back at the armed men, killing four people in Afrin, risking the possibility of further anger and clashes in coming days. The Turkish authorities have also taken additional precautions as a result of the unrest, closing border crossings with Syria and shutting down communications in its zone of control such as Turkish-linked internet networks.

Aside from the attacks on Syrians in Turkiye, the rising tensions in northern Syria are also seemingly due to the Turkish government’s recent and renewed efforts for rapprochement with Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

That reconciliation has led many in the rebel-held areas to feel that Ankara and its forces will abandon them to the brutality of the Assad regime thirteen years after the start of the Syrian revolution and Turkiye’s support for the Syrian opposition. That concern also extends to Syrians within Turkiye – even those who have managed to obtain Turkish citizenship – who fear that authorities will increasingly force or pressure them to leave the country and return to a Syria under regime control.

READ: Erdogan, Assad hint at restoration of Turkiye-Syria relations