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SPECIAL REPORT

‘Our region will suffer the most’: Kurds on Turkish border rue needless war

"My pickers are too afraid to come do the work,” says cottom farmer Mahmud.
"My pickers are too afraid to come do the work,” says cottom farmer Mahmud. FRANCE 24 screen grab

Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria has wreaked havoc on both sides of the border, jeopardising the livelihood of local communities. FRANCE 24’s team reports from the Turkish border town of Suruc. 

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With nearly 60,000 inhabitants, most of them Kurds, Suruc is a political stronghold of the pro-Kurdish HDP Party – the only Turkish party to oppose the military offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The Turkish operation has drawn an international outcry as the SDF were the main Western allies in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria. Turkey, however, regards Kurdish elements in the SDF as terrorists.

“Was there fighting or hostilities threatening Turkey enough for them to justify this war?” asks Mohamed Kosti, an HDP representative in Suruc. “No. Their goal is just to come and take what they want.”

The evacuation orders issued by local authorities have left the outskirts of the city deserted. Local farmers are among the few who have stayed behind after sending their families to safety.

“Our region is going to suffer the most,” says Mahmud, a cotton farmer. “Two men were killed here just a couple of days ago.”

The local economy is mostly based on cotton, but agriculture as a whole has been put on standby since Turkey's offensive started on October 9.

“Look at my cotton, it's just standing there, my pickers are too afraid to come do the work. What can I do?” the farmer laments.

Like many others in Suruc, Mahmud would like his region to remain predominantly Kurdish. But – most of all – he yearns for the offensive to end.

Click on the player above to watch the report by Hussein Asad and Ludovic de Foucaud.

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