Syria's Afrin gets council after Kurd militia ousted: Turkish media

Syria's Afrin gets council after Kurd militia ousted: Turkish media
Turkish state media said a 20-member interim council was set up in the northern Syrian town of Afrin on Thursday, weeks after it was captured by the Turkish army.
2 min read
13 April, 2018
Turkish forces and allied rebels took control of Afrin last month [Getty]
Civilian representatives from Kurd, Arab and Turkmen communities have set up a council in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, which was captured by the Turkish army and allied rebels last month, state media said on Thursday. 

Eleven of the 20-member interim council were elected by the Kurds, eight by Arabs, and one by Turkmens, the Anadolu news agency reported, just weeks after Turkey pushed out the Kurdish militia from the town.

Zuheyr Haidar, a Kurdish representative who was elected president said the local council would defend Syria's territorial integrity, according to Anadolu. 

In January, Turkey launched an operation into Syria to root out the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in the Afrin enclave and drove the group from the city on March 18.

Turkey has branded the YPG a terrorist group linked to outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged an armed rebellion against the state since 1984.

Ankara has always argued the YPG disrupted the ethnic balance of northern Syria and insisted its fight is against the militia group and not Kurds themselves.

But the future of Afrin after the Turkish campaign has already become a source of tension. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country allowed Turkish air force to enter Syrian air space for the Afrin operation, said this week that Afrin should be "returned to the control of the Syrian government."

In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised Lavrov's "wrong approach."

"We will give Afrin back to its inhabitants when the time comes but we will determine the time, not Mr Lavrov," Erdogan retorted.

The comments were the toughest yet by Erdogan targeting Russia after Ankara forged a close alliance with Moscow in recent months to find a political solution to the Syria crisis. 

Turkey and Russia are on opposite sides in Syria, with Moscow remaining the chief ally of President Bashar al-Assad's regime and Ankara backing rebels seeking his removal.

However they have put differences aside to work closely on ending the conflict, in what analysts say is partly a bid to outflank the United States at a time of tension with the West.

Agencies contributed to this report.