Afrin (also spelled Efrîn) is the name of a town and a district in the Kurdish region of Syria. Before 2012, the district of Afrin was part of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR), a part of the Aleppo governorate. However, government forces lost control of Afrin Syria in 2012, and the Afrin district became a defacto canton of Rojava. The town of Afrin serves as the administrative center of the Afrin Kurdish Canton in Rojava.
Afrin Kurdish Canton
The Afrin canton is the westernmost canton of Rojava’s three cantons. It declared autonomy in January 2014, but currently faces threats from the Al Nusra Front, the Syrian Government, as well as the Islamic State.
The ethnicity of Afrin canton is roughly 75% Kurdish, 25% Arab and 1% other (Armenians, Turkmens), and its religion is split between Sunni Islam (89%), Christianity (6%), Alevism (4%) and other religions including Shia Islam and Yazidism (1%).
The Afrin valley was part the Syrian Province of the Roman Empire. In the early 8th century, the land fell under control of the Muslims, and remained in Muslim control until modern times, except for a brief period in the 11th and 12th century when crusaders from the Principality of Antioch took control.
The Kurds were recognized to have settled the area by the 18th century, at the latest. When the Turkish-Syrian border was drawn in 1923, Afrin became part of French-administered Syria. Under this administration, Afrin began to flourish.
When Syrian government forces pulled out in 2012, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) took control, and the town and region fell under Kurdish control.