The History of Current Events

Syrian Civil War IV

July 05, 2021 Hayden Season 2 Episode 19
The History of Current Events
Syrian Civil War IV
Intro Song
İmralı Prison
Revolution in Kurdistan
Collapse of the Ottoman Empire
The Kurds in Syria
Kurds in the Middle East
Operation Desert Storm
Rebellion in Iraq
Apo's Final Years
Operation Euphrates Shield
My Experiences in Turkey
The War in Syria Continues
ISIS Losing
Operation Olive Branch
Foreign Volunteers
Results of the Invasion
The History of Current Events
Syrian Civil War IV
Jul 05, 2021 Season 2 Episode 19

 ''one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter''
Abdullah Öcalan is a Kurdish-Turkish revolutionary who has been fighting for Kurds to achieve equal rights since the 1970s. He started the PKK a communist party which goal is either the achievement of equal rights for the Kurdish peoples or a separate Kurdish state. He spent much of his life on the run from the Turkish government who sought to end his rebellion. His followers largely make up the Syrian faction Rojava or the SDF, one of the major factions of the Syrian Civil war.

This episode focuses on Rojava and their many conflicts with Turkey which would eventually lead Turkey into the Syrian Civil war.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

 ''one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter''
Abdullah Öcalan is a Kurdish-Turkish revolutionary who has been fighting for Kurds to achieve equal rights since the 1970s. He started the PKK a communist party which goal is either the achievement of equal rights for the Kurdish peoples or a separate Kurdish state. He spent much of his life on the run from the Turkish government who sought to end his rebellion. His followers largely make up the Syrian faction Rojava or the SDF, one of the major factions of the Syrian Civil war.

This episode focuses on Rojava and their many conflicts with Turkey which would eventually lead Turkey into the Syrian Civil war.

Support the show (

Syrian Civil War 4


On a lone Island in the sea of Marmaris 64 kilometers from Istanbul, Turkey, is a small prison. It has hosted some rather famous people; in the 1960s following Turkeys 1st successful military coup, Turkish prime minster Adnan Menderes was held and later hung there. In the 1970s Billy Hayes an American kid who got caught smuggling hashish out of Istanbul was later sent to the prison and escaped from the Island, he later wrote a book about his ordeal which was adapted into Midnight Express an Oliver Stone movie. 

In 1999 the small prison and all its inhabitants were vacated to mainland Turkey to make room for a sole prisoner, more than 1,000 Turkish military personnel were stationed on the island to guard him. He would be the only prisoner on this lonely Island, while he awaited his trial. The future didn’t look good for this man as he would eventually be charged with treason and separatism from the Turkish state. After less than a month of what many outside viewers including the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) saw as an unfair trial, he was found guilty and charged with the death penalty. This man is known as Abdullah Ocalan.

Roughly 25 years before this, Abdullah Ocalan was arranging a series of secret meetings in Ankara. With his small group of compatriots who called themselves the Revolutionaries of Kurdistan. The group decided that the Kurds of Turkey were 2nd class citizens as well as a colony and that resistance against their overlord must be implemented until either the independence of a Kurdish nation or Kurds achieve equal rights. The meeting dispersed and each member was sent to the 4 corners of Turkish-Kurdistan, Urfa, Mus, Batman and Tunceli.

By the end of 1977 the group had about 300 members as well as 30 armed militants and the next year they declared the organization The Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK. a communist party whose goal was the formation of an independent communist Kurdistan. 

At this time Turkey was in the middle of a Turkification campaign meant to bring the Turkish identity and culture to all areas of the country and social life. Since the founding of Turkey, people who spoke non Turkish languages were banned from holding political office and could be fined or imprisoned if these foreign languages were heard, Turkish names had to be adopted, Non Turkish populations were forcefully resettled all throughout the country. This wasn’t targeted specifically at Kurdish people who made up the largest minority group by far of the newly declared Turkish republic but it did result in massive population exchanges of the other largest minority groups of Turkey, including Greeks and Armenians. The result was that almost all minority groups in the former ottoman empire went home to their newly declared states, such as Greece and Armenia. That left however the Kurds who were without a state.


The Turkification campaign was meant to reestablish control over the trauma experienced by the collapse of the ottoman empire and subsequent consequences. The Turkish dominated Ottoman empire lost 4/5ths of its land and 2/3rds of its European land.


 Many of the newly declared PKK were persecuted, not just by the Turkish government but by Turkish and Kurdish land owners who saw them as communist Upstarts. See at this time Turkey was embroiled in vicious leftist-rightist clashes, it is estimated that nearly 10 assassinations per day occurred during the 1970s. Persecution, Murder and lynching’s were common. All chaos broke out in Turkey during this time, Books deemed radical were banned and burned and possession of one could get you killed, until a successful right wing military coup in 1980, where a military Junta took control of the secular nation. The result of this right wing coup was Martial law being imposed and human rights being disregarded until stability could be re-established, as well as an intensification of the Turkification process…

Ocalan along with many of his supporters fled to Syria to avoid the certain death that would have awaited them if they stayed in Turkey. Due to this mass exodus kurds became the largest ethnic minority in Syria. Syria wasn’t much better however as Kurds also faced discrimination there. They were denied basic human rights, citizenship and were unable to own land. They also faced Arabization campaigns, which were the same as Turkification campaigns. The Syrian Kurdish population grew massively as refugees ran away from the Turkish state; the regions they inhabited in the northeast were and are oil rich, today Syria-Kurdistan contains 60% of Syrian oil

Hafez Al-Assad was the leader at this time in Syria, he welcomed these upstarts into Syria due to his disdain for Turkey and the Turkish government. He even allowed this new organization, called the PKK, 2 training camps in neighboring Lebanon which at the time was under Syrian military occupation. There the PKK received political and military training. By 1984 The organization known as PKK ramped up its attempts at independence and began attacking not only Turkish government forces but Civilians as well.

The PKK has received condemnation over the years for their use of suicide bombers, child soldiers and attacks directed at teachers and civil servants in the east of Turkey.  

During this time, the PKK recruited young women by kidnapping them. This forced families whose children were already a member of the organization to cooperate and thus turning them into accomplices, which increased the number of women joining the group, according to the Jamestown Foundation.


Some more conservative Turkish critics have claimed that Pro-women ideologies are a propaganda tool to recruit for the terrorist organization. By 2020 40% of PKK fighters were women. It should be noted that many in Turkey view Women’s roles in a traditional role as child bearers

Don’t take my word for it, take Turkish President Recep tayipp Erdogans’

“You cannot put men and women on equal footing. It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. She should not laught loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times.”


This led to Turkey, Syria, the United States, The European Union, and most other states declaring the PKK a terrorist organization. 


Ocalan whose followers call him APO, short for uncle in Kurdish, claim these attacks on Turkish civilians are propaganda and lies meant to discredit his organization that seeks equal rights for Kurds in their respective nations.

He has largely lost his identity which is why he fights to preserve his Kurdish culture. He thinks, speaks and gives orders in Turkish, he and most of his compatriot’s don’t even speak the Kurdish language due to the Turkification program and Arabization programs of the Kurdish ethnic group. Take for example his comrades who were sent to the 4 corners of Kurdistan to inspire the PKK revolution, Cemil Bayik ,Kemal Pir,  Haki Karer, Ali Haydar Kaytan all had Turkish or Arabic names.

Apo has become something of a prophet to many Kurdish groups scattered around the middle east,

Take his words on the matter…

 “prophets have always been leaders in the middle east”


“They are called messengers and its very hard to lead people without understanding the role of prohpets


“To Mobilize these people you have to use the prophets methods”


“You shouldn’t get me wrong I don’t call myself a prophet but I pay attention to their methods as well, its necessary for survival”

Insert APO speech on PROPHET

7:44- 8:17



Apo has been essential in the reforging of the Kurdish identity, he writes in his book Jineology about Womens rights, which has become a staple of the Kurdish identity

he says “a country can’t be free unless the women are free” that the level of a womans freedom determines the level of freedom in society at large. The Kurdish have become famous for their female soldiers, this is due to this ideology of equality for women. 

In any communal decision, regarding the the Kurdish Militias in Syria or otherwise, it is required that no less than 40% of women participate.

 Apo when he was a child was born into abject poverty, in a village in eastern Turkey, The oldest of 7 children. A common occurrence all over the middle east as well as Turkey, the most liberal of middle eastern nations, is arranged marriages where a woman is forced to marry another man, many times in a bartering process. When he was a young man his sister Havva was married to another man from another village in an arranged marriage, he felt great regret over this event. Honor killings and the subjugation of women are common all throughout the middle east even to this day. This led to his formulation of his policy of women’s liberation as opposed to the traditional role of females.


The YPJ faction or The Women’s protection Units or Women’s defence units have become famous in the Syrian Civil war. They are an all female militia wing of Rojava, comprising mostly of kurds but also other women in the region from other ethic groups

A major event we didn’t even get to, the Siege of Kobani (back in 2014 before the USA was really helping the Kurds) The YPJ distinguished themselves for holding off ISIS with vintage Russian Klashnikovs and handmade grenades and tanks they slapped together. They distinguished themvsleves as some of the fiercest fighters of the war.

Also extinguishing themselves as an important militia in the liberation of the Yazidi peoples.




Kurds have not just been historically oppressed in Turkey, They have been systematically oppressed in almost all countries of the middle east where they often times find themselves the largest minority ethnic group of foreign states. 

Iraq has an estimated 8.4 million kurds, they are the largest ethnic minority in Iraq comprising 20-25% of the countries population. During the later stages of the 1980s Iran- Iraq war the Anfal campaign began where kurds were forced to be Arabized. During the Anfal campaign the Iraqi military attacked about 250 kurdish villages with chemical weapons and destroyed some 4500 villages as well as evicting their inhabitants.

The Kurdish struggle was brought to prominence in the west when in 1988 Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurds to death in Halabja. The incident was the largest chemical weapons attack directed against a civilian-populated area in history,[3] killing between 3,200 and 5,000 people and injuring 7,000 to 10,000 more, most of them civilians.[1][4] not only were the deaths a substantial problem but surveys of the affected region showed an increased rate of cancer and birth defects in the years afterward.

The Iraqi-Kurdish conflicts are as old as the Turkish-Kurdish conflicts, but the modern notions of them began in the 1920s with the formation of Iraq. Its too complex to get into all the different factions and armies of the Kurds who differed on political ideology, religion, language, the many complex things of the middle east. But similar to Turkey in the 1970s after a series of failed rebellions the Iraqi government began a series of Arabization campaigns and relocation campaigns where populations would be forcefully relocated to weaken their Kurdish identity.


In 1990 Saddam Hussein launched an invasion into the neighboring oil rich country of Kuwait, his goal was to steal the vast oil revenues of his neighbor to pay off the massive debts he had incurred from his failed invasion of Iran the decade prior.

US president George HW Bush showing far more political intellect than his son George W Bush, Launched operation Desert Storm in defense of Kuwait.




The US president implored the people of Iraq to overthrow their dictator Saddam Hussein. The factionalist Iraq responded by staging uprisings all over the country, including the Shiite dominated south and of course the Kurds who were located in the north.

The Kurds left their mountainous regions of northern Iraq and began capturing the oil rich plains, including the oil center of Kirkuk. Saddam retaliated swiftly, battering Kirkuk with artillery and targeting hospitals in particular. The mountain fighters were out of their element in the lowland, difficult to defend plains, they were forced to retreat back to their mountains where similarly to the Yazidi people years later faced a humanitarian crisis, with little food or water. allegedly Iraqi helicopters threw flour on them (which was reputed to be powdery chemical weapons which were used by the Iraqi administration during the Al-Anfal Campaign).


George HW Bush, probably one of the most honest men to be US president, He often got in trouble because of his honesty (READ MY LIPS NO NEW TAXES). He Stayed true to what he said American troops did not proceed with a land invasion of Iraq… a mistake his son would make roughly 10 years later

Without US support the kurds found themselves alone, leading to the Kurdish Civil War of 1994-1997

Kurds had achieved an autonomous region since their rebellions of the 1970s but the economic embargos of Iraq instituted from Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait led to even less humanitarian aid getting to the Kurdish regions. The harsh mountainous regions led to an increase in the black market trade from the autonomous Kurdish region. Eventually factionalism split the Kurdish state and the Turks sent an invading force to search for Abdullah Ocalan who found himself and his PKK fighters on a side of the civil war.

After years of fighting Washington mediated a peace deal where the Kurdish region would stay autonomous and out of Saddam’s grasp, and Apo as well as PKK would be banned from the region. 


Apo returned to Syria surviving assassination attempts until 1998 when he was forced to leave due to outside pressure from the Turkish government which at one point threatened Syria with an invasion if they did not turn him over. Syria didn’t turn him over but did expel him from the country. 

Apo travelled around Europe for the next few months attempting to find Asylum in another country. Due to Turkey’s political influence and power he had a difficult time finding Asylum, he bounced around European countries for months, getting rejected, forced to stay at airports for weeks, until eventually he was invited as a guest by a prominent Greek author. He was convinced to go to Kenya by Greek diplomats.

He was captured in Kenya on 15 February 1999, while being transferred from the Greek embassy to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, by the Turkish Intelligence agency, supported by the CIA. The capture caused embarrassment to the Greek government and 3 high ranking Greek government officials resigned in shame after the mishap.


His capture led thousands of Kurds to hold worldwide protests condemning the capture of Öcalan at Greek and Israeli embassies. Kurds living in Germany were threatened with deportation if they continued to hold demonstrations in support of Öcalan. The warning came after three Kurds were killed and 16 injured during the 1999 attack on the Israeli consulate in Berlin.[92][93] A group named the Revenge Hawks of Apo set fire to a department store in Kadiköy Istanbul, causing the death of 13 people.[94] In several European capitals and larger cities[95] as well as in Iraq, Iran and also Turkey manifestations were organized against his capture.[96]

As Turkey was attempting to gain EU citizenship Apo survived his death sentence, and was resentenced to life in prison. One of the requirements for EU membership is an abolition of the death penalty and APO petitioned for a resentencing which was granted.  In November 2009, Turkish authorities announced that they were ending his solitary confinement by transferring several other prisoners to İmralı. Where Apo resides to this day…









Operation Euphrates Shield



August 24th 2016--

The reason behind Operation Euphrates shield was do disallow 2 of the Kurdish factions to unify. The state of Rojava, now named the Syrian Democratic Forces had a rather large state in the east that was quickly spreading across the west bank of the Euphrates. South of Turkey near the decades earlier annexed region of Hatay was another Kurdish area called the Kurd-Dag or Kurdish mountains

The Kurdish mountains transcends both North western Syria and South eastern Turkey, the main city of the region is located in Syria and called Afrin, 

Turkey claims that both Rojava and the Kurdish mountain contained PKK, this is possible, as Ocalan is considered a hero in these regions. However due to the factionalist nature of the Kurds it’s difficult to determine who supports who, and often is subject to change.

The Turkification and Arabization campaigns attempted to destroy the Kurdish language and culture however this region due to its mountainous terrain managed to keep its Kurdish identity. The Syrians renamed the district Jabal al-`Uruba from the Arabization campaign in the 1970s and the Turks renamed it the Kurt mountains or wolf mountains in English. It was meant as an insult to the Kurds. The Turkish word for wolf, Kurt sounds the same as the Kurd the Turkish name for Kurdish peoples.

The Turks feared if the Afrin district was able to Unify with Rojava they would be cut off from Syria and have a large Kurdish state completely encompassing their southern border.

At the time Vice President Joe Biden reportedly defended Turkey's stance vis-a-vis the Syrian Kurds and said that "the elements that were part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the YPG that participated, that they must go back across the river" (the Euphrates).[95][108] The YPG, however, initially refused to withdraw from Manbij (located on the west bank of the Euphrates). They were entrenched in a bloody battle against ISIS called the Manbij offensive.


Even before operation Euphrates shield took place, America, Turkey and coalition allies had been discussing a ground invasion in support of factions of the FSA. But plans stalled because America didn’t fully support the ones chosen by Turkey. One of the major FSA factions consisted of Turkmen (an ethnic subgroup of the Turks) who wore the color Blue, representing the historic Turkish colors. There were also Arab soldiers involved who distinguished themselves with red.


The Turkish president  Erdoğan said on the first day of the operation that it was aimed against both the ISIS and Syrian Kurdish "terror groups that threaten our country in northern Syria".

A few hours after the offensive's beginning, Turkish Special Forces and the Sham Legion a legion of islamist jihadists, captured their first village, Tal Katlijah, after ISIS fighters (Quote) “retreated” from it to reinforce Jarabulus the northernmost city of strategic importance  


After 2 days of artillery bombardments and airstrikes, the Turkish land forces launched an attack on the ISIS held town of Jarabulus. Progress was originally slow as the area had been heavily mined by ISIS fighters.


Turks View the American backed Kurds as terrorists and have far longer than ISIS was around. Many reported that not much combat took place between Turkey and Jihadists factions operating in Jarabulus (north of the Manbij pocket) There were a number of reports of collusion between Turkey and ISIS, even some reports saying ISIS members changed uniform and fought on the other side.

in an interview published in The Independent on 9 September, an ISIS fighter said that "when the Turkish army entered Jarabulus, I talked to my friends who were there. Actually, Isis didn't leave Jarabulus; they just shaved off their beards.”

even the Assad government commented, saying That it was a "blatant violation of its sovereignty" and said that "fighting terrorism isn’t done by ousting ISIS and replacing it with other terrorist organizations backed directly by Turkey"



The USA was now supporting one of the factions in the Syrian civil war as well as the faction they were opposing. However with their airstrikes they were sure to not attack their Kurdish or Turkish allies, they focused their airstrikes on ISIS.

There is some confusion as to the results of Operation Euphrates Shield. The Turks and Turkish supported FSA were successful in their goal of pushing ISIS out of the region as well as dividing the two Kurdish factions. The Kurds claim after pressure from the USA they retreated east of the Euphrates and left a splinter group of non-Kurds to control the region called the Manbij military council. The Turks claim it is not true and continued drone strikes of regions they believed were Kurdish.

members of the Jarabulus Military Council stated that they "will not allow some "mercenaries" to take over our city. We will liberate Jarabulus," with some stating that some of the Turkish-backed rebels were former ISIS fighters

later Sham Legion fighters released footage showing them torturing and executing Kurdish prisoners.

On August 30th a ceasefire was reached between The Kurds and Turks

The USA publicly condemned the Turkish invasion, and Turkeys foreign Ministry commented saying the US’ comments regarding the objectives of the Turkish military operation in Syria were unacceptable and that the country would continue its operations until it achieved the goal of eliminating terrorists threats in the region.

The Turkish prime minister's spokesman said the Turkish government would treat foreign volunteers as terrorists, and a spokesman of Erdogan speaking to a news outlet opined that when it comes to Europeans or Americans joining the YPG, they could only be considered "crusaders" or intelligence agents.[165][166] Macer Gifford, a prominent British volunteer with the YPG and leader of its medical unit was quoted as saying "only in the minds of right wing and nationalist politicians in Turkey could the volunteers ever be called terrorists"; he said that while he had no intention to fight against Turkey, he would do so if and when Turkey attacked the YPG.

Anecdotally what I experienced in my 5 years in Turkey is a wide range of propaganda being employed by the Turkish government. In Turkey media is not by any means free, and has become less and less free as the Erdogan government stayed in power longer and expanded their power. (indoctrination begins as early as Elementary school, By the way I am not saying the USA is any better we are also a heavily propagandized nation) The anti-western Erdogan government, scapegoats the west for their shortcomings. Most Turkish people are convinced the world is out to get them, this also comes from the first world war where they found themselves on the losing side of a devastating war, after which the European powers attempted to colonize them, The Turkish fought extremely well in this war considering the logistics and decrepit state of the Ottoman empire. What ultimately defeated the ottoman empire wasn’t British ground troops, but Lawrence of Arabia type missions meant to bring the many anti-Turkish ethnic groups and factions to rise up and overthrow their ottoman overlord. (notice the name Lawrence of ARABIA – emphasis on the Arabia) 

Arguably and ironically Kurds were the most loyal ethnic group to their Turkish overlords during the tumultuous first world war, sharing a common Muslim background many Kurdish factions became the fiercest pro-Turkic fighters of the war. Whilst Arabs, Armenians and Greeks largely fought against the Ottoman empire for their own independence. The Kurds under the Millet System fought for the Ottomans. (many Kurdish factions also rebelled and faced genocidal like conditions it should be noted)

Turkish people largely believe that the West backs PKK forces to keep a regionally weak Turkey. This tactic is not new to Turkey, the Nazis used it to garner support for their government following WW1 by scapegoating Jews in what is known as the “Stab-in-the-back Theory”

I also want to note Turkish people should not be blamed for this, I never once in my 5 year time in Turkey experienced racism or unjust treatment due to my American nationality. What I am speaking of is the political mentality of (everyone is out to get us) Turkish peoples are some of the most hospitable people I have ever come across, they pride themselves on this hospitality.


On 29 November, Erdogan, said that the Turkish military launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[295] Days later Erdogan sought to retract his statement; media observers attributed his outburst to frustration due to failure of his government's Syria policies

Which was garnering mass attention in Turkey. The Turkish economy having taken in 3.6 million Syrian refugees was stretched thin and beginning to enter a recession.


A ceasefire between the non-Islamist factions was attempted but Turkey disregarded their ceasefire terms and continued fighting both ISIS and the Kurds. Meanwhile ISIS launched a massive counterstrike.

The Kurdish Operation Manbij had been halted due to the Turkish Operation Eurphrates shield and now both operations were halted. ISIS retook many cities. Turkey didn’t want to commit more troops and get stuck in the quagmire that was Syria so instead the T-FSA (Turksih Free Syrian Army as we shall now call them to distinguish them from the other FSA armies) changed its strategy.

Changing their attention to the West Turkey and the TFSA attacked the city of Al Bab and nearby villages just 40 kilometers away from Aleppo. Without US air support the mission halted and Turkey turned to their former antagonist Russia for support, which Russia granted. With Russian air support the operation was a success and ISIS was kicked out of the region.

The Turks were victorious and now had the TFSA region in northwestern Syria, leaving a small region under their control and separating Rojava and the Kurdish mountains, however they were unable to kick the Kurds east of the Euphrates… Something the Kurds claimed was nonsense as they left a non-Kurdish force in control. Turkish operations were halted.











Meanwhile ISIS suffered on all fronts of their wars, which were all over the middle east, 

the Battle of Sirte in Libya, (which was another proxy war between ISIS, Turkey, The USA and Russia.} Was just finishing. Sirte was called ISIS’ last stand in Libya.

In Iraq, the battle of Mosul was raging between Iraqi Kurdistan fighters, ISIS began losing.

In Syria, on the Eastern front Rojava engaged in operation Wrath of Euphrates with the goal of liberating ISIS’ new capital Raqqa. 

The Turkish offensive, Operation Euphrates Shield, in the west where the Turkish fighters were kicking ISIS out of the west bank of the Euphrates

And finally after 4 years of brutal battle, Aleppo was liberated for Assad from both FSA and ISIS fighters.


ISIS was battered and seemed to be on its death throes thanks to Russian and American support. The question now was what happens after ISIS is gone?


First all major factions agreed on a ceasefire to end the year, 2016. Putin oversaw a peace deal between Assad and the claimants to the Syrian government (excluding terrorist groups like Al Nusra front and the remnants of ISIS) Russia and Turkey were guarantors and Iran as signatory.


Erdogan began repatriating Syrian refugees in his newly liberated regions of Syria, offering them help with arrival. 50,000 of them were repatriated across the border after the success of operation Euphrates Shield. Turkey was entering a recession and anger began amounting at Syrian refugees in Turkey, many Turks felt the 3.6 million refugees were to blame. In reality it added to it but ineptitude of the Erdogan government was what caused the economy to crash.





By February 14th 2017 the ceasefire collapsed throughout the country, fighting resumed on all fronts, in the south Assad forces began firing missiles at Israeli jets flying over the Golan heights. The UN reported that US led airstrikes resulted in the deaths of 150 civilians when a school was hit.

In the United states Donald Trump had recently won his hotly contested presidential election, after running on a policy of Isolationism which after the disastrous bush years was something immensely popular with the American public. Less than 3 months after assuming the presidency. The Khan Shaykhun chemical attacks occurred in Syria. It was the deadliest use of chemical weapons since the Ghouta attack 4 years earlier. 89 people had been killed including many women and children

The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, and Israel as well as Human Rights Watch attributed the attack to the forces of Assad. The Syrian government said the attack was a "fabrication".[22] The Russian government claimed that the incident was staged.

After seeing this president Donald Trump quickly reneged on his isolationist polices and On the morning of 7 April 2017, 72 hours after the attack, the United States launched 59 cruise missiles on Shayrat Airbase, believed to be the base for the aircraft that carried out the chemical attack


This was the first intentional attack on Assad from the USA in the Syrian civil war, before this all US fire in the war was directed at ISIS and AL Nusra.

Russian President Putin viewed the U.S. attack as "an act of aggression against a sovereign country violating the norms of international law". US representatives responded that "the moral stain of the Assad regime could no longer go unanswered.

The USA attacked again on May 18th, even so while this was going on Assads forces were conducting in the east of the country the Syrian Desert campaign against ISIS and FSA forces which was massively successful liberating vital infrastructure points as well as reestablishing a government held border with Iraq for the first time since 2015.

Things also ramped up in the Kurdish regions when the Turkish Air Force conducted several airstrikes on Rojava positions in the easternmost point of Syria. The attacks were condemned by the US.

On 17 October, after over four months of fierce fighting and the U.S.-led coalition's bombardment, the Kurdish-dominated state Rojava, announced they had established full control of the city of Raqqa, ISIS’ capital. At the end of October, the Ba'athist government of Syria said that it still considered Raqqa to be an occupied city that can ″only be considered liberated when the Syrian Arab Army enter[ed] it.″

The Remainder of the year saw ISIS’ almost complete destruction, With the Kurds progressing from the North backed by US airstrikes, and Pro Assad Forces supported by Russian airstrikes conquering from the West. The 2 factions divided the country along the Euphrates River. 

Donald Trump months prior to this also halted a CIA-planned training program to support some FSA factions, without their support the FSA was in the same camp as ISIS.

On December 6th 2017 Putin declared Syria to have been “completely liberated” from ISIS. Putin announced he had ordered a partial withdrawl of Russian forces from the region but many political experts were skeptical about the authenticity of this statement. By the end of the month the Russian foreign minister said that Russia believed the US forces must leave Syrian territory completely once remnants of the terrorists were completely eliminated.

Putin’s reasons for joining the war in the first place were 3 fold 

First it was related to Ego, The Russians wanted to prove themselves capable of carrying out such an operation in another country, in addition they wanted to successfully test out new weapon systems

2nd after losing all influence in the middle east with the collapse of the soviet union. Russia wanted to exert its influence in not just the middle east, (Syria as well as Libya which to this day has a proxy war raging) but also show the world its strength

3rd Russia was there to permanently to prop up the pro-Russian Assad regime, with an alliance dating back to his father. Had Assad been overthrown Syrian relations would have been overthrown with Russia.





The World unilaterally celebrated the defeat of ISIS, by the end of 2017 things seemed to finally be winding down in Syria as each faction had their region.


The US in the months prior to the fall of ISIS began cutting back its aid as early as mid and late 2017. Without this Rojava found itself in a vulnerable position. With hostile enemies all around them, it had Assads forces backed by Iran and the Russians to the west, possible rival Kurdish factions to the east and of course Turkey to the north. would this Kurdish state be able to survive the war that assured its creation?




ERDOGAN SPEECH--- on Monday 22nd January 2018

Bugün milli güvenlik güçlerimiz sınırlarımızın içinde ve dışında yakın tarihimizin en büyük mücadelelerinden birini yürütüyor.


Today, our national security forces are waging one of the greatest struggles in our recent history, both inside and outside our borders.


Sınırlarımız boyunca oluşturulmak istenen milli birliğimizi ve toprak bütünlüğümüzü tehdit eden terör koridoruna ilk darbe”firat kalkani “ile olmuştur


The first blow to the terror corridor that threatens our national unity and territorial integrity along our borders was operation "Firat Shield".


Bazı gazete yazarları özellikle bu operasyonları sanki Kürtlere karşı yapıyormuş 


Now,  Some newspaper writers seem to think we are carrying out these operations against the Kurds.


gibi  ilan edip hedeften şaşırma gayreti içindeler öncelikle çok acik söylemek istiyorum bizim Kürt vatandaşları ile bir sorunumuz yok olay kürt sorunu değil olayKürt terörünü sonlandirmak


First of all, I want to say very clearly that we do not have a problem with Kurdish citizens, it is not a Kurdish problem, it is an event to end Kurdish terrorism.


Affin hallolacaktir.


"Afrin will be solved.


 There is no stepping back from Afrin. 






Back in 2012 When Assad was struggling for dear life, he was forced to make a decision, to pull out his main forces to defend his major cities in the west of the country or risk losing everything. When he pulled his troops out it led to a power vaacum in the more rural centers, many of the Kurdish mountain districts comprised these areas, Afrin in the Kurd Dag was one such district. Afrin was isolated from Rojava so the Russian forces entered the region to protect the Kurdish civilians from Turkish shellings 

The Turkish government has publicly stated that it sees no difference in the PKK (Kurdish rebels led by Ocalan) and the YPG(The Kurdish military faction of the state Rojava). While the PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by The United States, and many other countries the YPG is not a terrorist organization, a stance hat has generated much conflict between the NATO allies.


During the early stages of operation Olive Branch as it has become known, United states secretary of Defence James Mattis emphathized with Turkey, stating “Turkey is the only NATO ally with an active inseurgency within its borders” he acknowledged Turkey has legitimate security concerns regarding the PKK and said that turkey had consulted the USA before launching the offensive.

Back in 2015 when ISIS was becoming too powerful to control the USA increased massively its aid to ROJAVA and the Kurdish rebels, leading to much tension between the American and Turkish governments. In particular Turkey objected to announced plans by the US to train and equip a 30,000 strong Rojava border force, which Turkey stated posed a direct threat to their security

"A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a speech in Ankara. "What can that terror army target but Turkey? Our mission is to strangle it before it's even born.”

Russia sensing the increased tensions between the Turks and the Kurds offered a solution shortly before the invasion took place, They offered the Kurdish faction in Afrin to recognize Assads authority and control of the region, the Afrin Kurds rejected this.

Iran also tried to deescalate the situation, warning Ankara that "many parties might want to see Turkey stuck in a quagmire" and has advised that Turkey "try to contain this adventure”


3 days before Erdogans speech, Shellings started between the T-SFA (Turkish rebels) and YPG (Kurdish militias) Russian military personal began vacating the region to avoid the ensuing conflict.


The Turkish armed forces led the operation with many radical SFA (rebel) armies participating, including the Grey Wolves, Turkish Ultranationalist group, The Sham Legion, and reportedly ex ISIS fighters.

On the Kurdish side there were controversial reports of child soldiers and PKK terrorist fighters, 

as well as Western fighters, Americans, British, Germans French, ETC, The Kurds have gained extensive support from outside groups due to their Communist-leftist nature, Although Ocalan and his supporters have simmered down over time. The Pro-feminist, Pro-leftist Liberal stance of the PKK and Kurdish ideology has drawn many Anarchists from all over the world, not limited to the Kurdish Diaspora.

For example take Haukur Hilmarsson an Icelandic anarchist and political achtivist who travelled and joined the YPG in 2017, he was an active fighter in the liberation of Raqqa from ISIS. He was killed in a Turkish Airstrike in Operation Olive Branch.

Or Anna Montgomery Campbell also known as Hêlîn Qereçox, a British feminist, anarchist and prison abolition activist who fought with YPJ in the Syrian Civil war. She was also killed around the same time as Hilmarsson in a Turkish Airstrike. 

shortly after the invasion Pro-Assad forces also fought alongside the Kurds. For much of the Syrian civil war, Kurdish and Pro-Assad forces suspiciously avoided each other as they had bigger fish to fry.



Turkish forces quickly overwhelmed Afrin and the Kurd Dag, a little over 2 months and the region was subdued.









Operation Olive Branch has received extencive scrutiny as Orwellian and a mockery for the name, Olive Branch which is traditionally a symbol of peace. Between 400-500 civilians were estimated to hae been killed in the operations, in addition to this warcrimes were rampantly reported by the TFSA including the mutilation of female corpses, the killing of civilians, the alleged use of chemical gas by the Turkish army and the indiscriminate shooting of refugees fleeing from the conflict area into Turkey.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that a total of 300,000 people, more than half of the Kurdish population fled the city after TFSA occupation The remaining Kurds have faced harassment by local militant groups, including extortion, detention and kidnapping.[5] Kurds have also experienced seizure and destruction of their land and Kurdish farmers have been discriminated in comparison their Arab neighbors. The Kurdish language has also been restrained.

 Many fled out of fear of the Turkish armies who have been historically brutal after occupying a Kurdish town. Due to the mass exodus the Turkish forces implemented a resettlement policy by moving refugees from other districts into the newly-emptied mostly Kurdish homes. Looting by the rebel forces was widespread. As well as the destruction of pro-Kurdish symbols such as flags and paintings of Ocalan. They were replaced with Turkish flags and banners.

In Turkey, the government issued restrictions on press coverage, with Reporters Without Borders noting that the Turkish media was expected to be in "service of the government and its war goals".[76] Hundreds of people were arrested for demonstrating against the operation,[77] and over 800 social media users and nearly 100 politicians and journalists were arrested for criticizing it.[78][76][79] Turkish police also arrested numerous leaders and high-ranking members of pro-Kurdish and left-wing political parties.[80]  

The NATO states all had differing opinions on the matter, Boris Johnson of the UK stated : "Watching developments in Afrin closely. Turkey is right to want to keep its borders secure. We share the goal of reducing violence and keeping the focus on the most important task: a political process in Syria that leads to the end of the Assad regime.”
 Whereas France called for an emergency United Nations Security Council withPresident Emmanuel Macron stating “if the Operation Olive Branch intends something different than securing Turkish borders against terrorists and evolves into an attempted invasion, that it becomes a real problem for France.” Macron also stated that Turkey must respect Syria's sovereignty. vowed to send troops to Syria's Manbij in a bid to assist local SDF militias in preventing Turkish forces from advancing on the town.

Turkey’s relationship with the US was stretched to breaking point by the Afrin operation, which pitted the two NATO allies and their Syrian proxies against one another. 


Intro Song
İmralı Prison
Revolution in Kurdistan
Collapse of the Ottoman Empire
The Kurds in Syria
Kurds in the Middle East
Operation Desert Storm
Rebellion in Iraq
Apo's Final Years
Operation Euphrates Shield
My Experiences in Turkey
The War in Syria Continues
ISIS Losing
Operation Olive Branch
Foreign Volunteers
Results of the Invasion