Syria: Thousands of Kurds demonstrate against Turkish strikes in the Northeast

Syria: Thousands of Kurds demonstrate against Turkish strikes in the Northeast


Thousands of Syrian Kurds demonstrated in Qamichli, northeastern Syria, on Sunday to protest against recent Turkish airstrikes targeting the region controlled by the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration, a photographer from AFP.

Ankara has been carrying out an air operation dubbed “Sword-Claw” for a week against Kurdish forces in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iraq, accused by the Turkish authorities of having carried out the November 13 attack in Istanbul. , which killed six people. Kurdish forces have denied any involvement.

Since November 20, at least 59 people have been killed in Turkish strikes which have mainly been concentrated in northeast Syria: 35 Kurdish fighters, 23 Syrian soldiers, as well as a journalist working for a Kurdish news agency , again according to the OSDH, an NGO based in the United Kingdom which has an extensive network of sources in Syria.

On Sunday, in the town of Qamichli, in the Hassaké region, thousands demonstrators denounced the strikes of Turkey, as well as the threats of a ground offensive which it threatens to trigger, noted an AFP photographer on the spot.

The protesters waved the red, yellow and green Kurdish flag and portraits of Abdullah Öcalan, the historic leader of the PKK, imprisoned in Turkey, shouting slogans hostile to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“ The will of the Kurdish people will not be broken […], we will not leave our historic land,” Siham Sleiman, a 49-year-old protester, told AFP.

“We are victims eradication,” said another protester, Salah el-dine Hamou, 55. “Until when are we going to die while the rest of the world watches us?” 

Supported by the international coalition led by the United States, the Syrian Kurdish forces had been the spearhead of the fight against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) driven from its strongholds in Syria in 2019.

Between 2016 and 2019, Turkey carried out three major operations in northern Syria against the Kurdish militias and organizations. Ankara repeats that it wants to create a 30 km wide “security zone” along its southern border.