ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Days after Turkish forces captured Afrin, hundreds of people gathered at a cinema in Istanbul this week for the premiere of a film about commandos battling militants in the Syrian town.
“Maroon Berets 2: Afrin” follows a Turkish commando unit trying to retrieve a warhead from militants in Syria, portraying the troops in a patriotic and flattering light in contrast to international criticism of Turkey’s two-month campaign.
Echoing real Turkish concerns, in the film the warhead is sent to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin by the United States for the fight against Islamic State but ends up being used against Turkey.
Ankara has been angered by Washington’s arming of the YPG, which it says is an extension of the Kurdish PKK waging a deadly insurgency inside Turkey since the 1980s, saying the weapons would eventually be turned on Turkey.
Turkey said on Monday that its troops had discovered caches of U.S. arms left behind by YPG fighters fleeing Afrin.
Director Erhan Baytimur said it was coincidence that Tuesday night’s premiere fell so close to Sunday’s capture of Afrin by Turkish troops. Filming, in Turkey’s northwestern province of Bursa, started a few weeks before the military campaign on Afrin was launched in January, he said.
The film aims to portray what Baytimur said was the heroism of Turkish soldiers in Afrin.
“We need to stand in unity and solidarity and this is how it was during the Afrin operation,” he said.
Tuesday’s gala was attended by families with children - some in commando uniform - local politicians and members of Turkey’s weapons and movie industries.
The film and script were approved by the Turkish Armed Forces and Defence Ministry, Baytimur said, and two local weapons companies contributed real pistols and rifles.
“Shooting the movie was quite hard. Because they were real weapons, and their weight was real too. We understood very well our soldiers there,” actor Balamir Emren said.
Editing by Dominic Evans and Peter Graff