Thousands of Syrian Kurds demonstrated on Sunday (November 27th) in Qamichli, in northeastern Syria, to protest against the recent Turkish airstrikes targeting this region controlled by the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration, reported a photographer from the AFP. Ankara has been carrying out an air operation for a week called “Swordclawagainst the Kurdish forces in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq, accused by the Turkish authorities of having perpetrated 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.
“Victims of an eradication”
Thousands of demonstrators in the town of Qamichli in the Hassake region on Sunday denounced Turkey’s strikes, as well as the threats of a ground offensive it threatens to unleash, a photographer from the AFP on site. The protesters waved the red, yellow and green Kurdish flag and portraits of Abdullah Öcalan, the historic leader of the PKK, imprisoned in Turkey, launching 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“, told AFP Siham Sleiman, a 49-year-old protester. “We are victims of an eradicationsaid another protester, Salah el-dine Hamou, 55. “Until when are we going to die while the rest of the world is watching?»
Supported by the international coalition led by the United States, the Syrian Kurdish forces had spearheaded the fight against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) driven from its strongholds in Syria in 2019. Between 2016 and 2019, Turkey conducted three major operations in northern Syria against Kurdish militias and organizations. Ankara repeats wanting to create a “safe area30 km wide along its southern border.