Sinjar still in ruins - Photo by Dr Michael Wilk
Last Sunday, on March 11, while visiting my hometown Wiesbaden, Germany, I met with an old friend, who told me that Dr Michael Wilk, the German doctor who had been to Syria on humanitarian missions before, was planning to go to Afrin, Syria to help his beleaguered Kurdish friends there. I urged my friend, who was about to meet Dr Wilk the next day, to convince him not to go, since I thought he would surely be killed there by the Turkish army.
A few days later I heard that he went anyway, but fortunately to Sinjar in Iraq, where he, together with a Catholic cleric from Münster, Germany evaluated the situation of the Yazidis there. The two humanitarians want to improve the living conditions there by supporting the rebuilding of schools and the establishment of a medical infrastructure. The money for those projects comes from donations from the Kurdish community in Germany and private persons, and also from the Catholic church in Germany.
About five hours ago Dr Wilk posted on Facebook that he is in Quamishlo/Rojava/Syria right now, talking to refugees from Afrin. This is a translation of his report:
"I am talking with people who have just arrived from Afrin. The situation there is catastrophic, the attacks by the Turkish airforce and the artillery bombardment do not stop. There are many injured/dead people, also among the civilian population, also women and children. The city center is under fire also, as well as the hospital, where the pharmacy was hit, among others. Thousands are fleeing, the roads out of the city are also under fire sometimes. Ambulances of the Kurdish Red Crescent have been targeted and hit. Contrary to the statement of the Turkish government to spare the civilian population, the population is being exposed to the terror of the bombardment without any protection. Obviously everything is being tried to spread fear and terror. The People´s Defense Units of the YPG have asked the population, via loudspeaker from the minarets, to leave the city. They are making a stand against the Turkish troops and their fundamental-islamist mercenaries."
I was never good at optimism, so I think that Afrin will fall, because the Kurds have no air support and Assad and the Russians are not helping them since they did not want to submit under Assad´s rule. The Americans are standing by watching, because Turkey is their NATO ally and their plan is to divide Syria anyway, they want all territory East of the Euphrat to come under their influence. So they used the Kurds to do their dirty work on the ground against the IS and now the Kurds can die defending their dream. Since Turkey is using Islamist mercenaries to do the dirty work for them, the US might even think they get rid of two problems now at once, a too dominant Kurdish force and some Islamist terrorists, as long as they keep killing each other.
For seven years this nightmare has been going on now in Syria, longer than World War II, and we have seen the worst of the cynicism that is geoplitics. But in this cruel game of everchanging political and strategic alliances one thing never changes: innocent civilians keep dying.