Afrin’s real cost in Syria

The toll is rising and every day brings horrific news of more death.
Sunday 04/02/2018
Smoke from burning tires in the Syrian town of Afrin is seen used to block the visibility of Turkish planes. (AFP)
Smoke from burning tires in the Syrian town of Afrin is seen used to block the visibility of Turkish planes. (AFP)

The real cost of Turkey’s incursion into Syria is being borne by hapless civilians.

No matter the self-righteousness with which Ankara proclaims the security and military objectives of its foray into Kurdish-dominated Afrin. The reality is bloody. Innocent people are being killed. The toll is rising and every day brings horrific news of more death. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Afrin worsens and its main hospital is running low on essential medical supplies.

The fallout of Turkey’s relentless bombing campaign goes further. The 3,000-year Ain Dara historic site was hit by devastating air raids by Turkish forces. Many of Syria’s ancient sites, including Palmyra and the Old City of Aleppo, suffered significant damage largely at the hands of the Islamic State. Now, it is Turkey’s air strikes that threaten a region with “a high density of heritage sites and standing ancient remains,” in the words of archaeologist Michael Danti.

The Afrin incursion will add to Syria’s many woes in which many parties — far too many parties — are increasingly opting for their own military solutions. All along, Syrian regime troops have been involved. Before Turkey’s sudden direct involvement, there were the Russians.

Moscow sent men and military ordnance to Syria in 2015 with the promise of ending the war but the latest round of Syrian peace negotiations in Sochi showed the limits of Russia’s diplomacy, hard though it tried to be an efficient alternative to UN efforts.

The Afrin operation being an open-ended incursion, the fear is that Syria’s 7-year-old war continues endlessly morphing into multiple new conflicts with an ever-mounting toll.

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