Numerous ethnic groups in northeastern Syria, not just the Kurds, are now in great danger after Turkey started a ground military operation that may, among other objectives, seek a change in the demographic composition of Syria, Fikret Igrek, President of the Yazidi Diaspora Council of Sinjar, a town in Iraqi Kurdistan close to northeastern Syria, said.
"This step [the Turkish operation] does not aim to maintain the territorial integrity of Syria or build a democratic regime but to operate on Syrian territory and change its demographic structure. The intervention itself and its objectives will severely violate the most fundamental principles of international law. The destruction and population engineering [changing the demographic composition] caused by such an intervention will also fall into the category of a crime against humanity with respect to the international law," Igrek said.
As of Thursday, Turkey has already conducted airstrikes in the border area and announced the beginning of a ground offensive. According to recent statements by the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party of Syria, dozens of civilians have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced since the start of the incursion.
"The peoples of Northern Syria, who sacrificed tens of thousands of people and resisted for their freedom in the fight against ISIS, are now faced with threats and chaos once again. Not only the Kurds but also the Arabs, Turkmens, Assyrians, Armenians and Yazidis inhabiting the region are in great danger," Igrek said.
Yazidis are ethnically close to Kurds. During the IS offensive in northern Iraq in 2014, in which terrorists took control also over Mosul, Yazidis suffered massacres, persecution and forced conversion. The People's Protection Units (YPG), a mainly-Kurdish group on Syria, and the PKK helped Yazidis to flee Sinjar mountains through northern Syria and find refuge.
Igrek noted that what Syria needed now most of all was an inclusive negotiation process to end the civil war in the country. This is exactly what the Syrian Constitutional Committee, due to meet for the first time at the end of October under the UN auspices, was formed for. According to the Yazidi official, the biggest threat is "a new military intervention" in the region.