Syrian rebel supporters burn Dutch, Danish flags in solidarity with Turkey

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Pro-Turkey Syrian protesters burn Dutch flag in Azaz city. Photo: Ahmed Dek/RK

ARA News

Supporters of the Syrian rebel groups in the Turkish-controlled town of Azaz in northern Syria protested against the Netherlands and burned Dutch and Danish flags in support of Turkey during the sixth anniversary of the ‘Syrian revolution’.

This comes despite the Dutch government support to the Syrian opposition in Idlib and Aleppo. The Netherlands has repeatedly condemned Assad war crimes, refused to work with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD)–which opposes Syrian Islamist rebel groups.

On 17 March, Syrian rebel supporters burned Dutch and Danish flags in support of Turkish government. The Turkish government was angered after the Dutch government banned Turkish officials last week from campaigning in Holland for the presidential referendum–planned to take place in Turkey in April. Also, in solidarity with the Netherlands, Denmark blocked Turkish officials from campaigning.

The protestors were holding banners with slogans such as “Shame on you, Netherlands and Denmark. Enemies of freedom and Islam.” “Syrian and Turkish people are against the acts of the Netherlands and Denmark,” another slogan read.

“The protests demonstrate that Turkey is calling all the shots in the Euphrates Shield areas. The local Syrian population in these areas, which include ethnic Turkmen favored by Turkish policy, are taking their signals from Erdogan’s government,” Washington-based analyst Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), told ARA News.

“These Syrians know that they are expected to treat Turkey’s enemies, even a country friendly to the Syrian opposition like the Netherlands, has to be their enemy too,” he said.

Although the Dutch government recognizes that Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, as a terror group, it still supports projects in areas under partial JFS control in Aleppo and Idlib. The Netherlands also backs Syrian opposition rebels after a vetting-procedure, which includes conditions that these groups do not cooperate with extremist groups.

In July 2016, the Dutch government said it was not willing to work with the Syrian Kurds.

“Other concerns are ties the PYD [political leadership of the YPG] has with the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] and the Syrian government. Moreover, the PYD in the last few months had direct confrontations with rebel groups, which include moderate opposition groups backed by the Netherlands,” the Dutch government added.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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