Thousands in Europe march against Turkey's Syria offensive

Thousands in Europe march against Turkey's Syria offensive

Organisers say more than 20,000 marched in Paris
Organisers say more than 20,000 marched in Paris AFP/Martin BUREAU

PARIS: Thousands of people, some shouting "Erdogan terrorist", took to the streets of Paris and other European cities on Saturday (Oct 12) in protest at the Turkish assault on Kurds in Syria.

Protesters marching under the Kurdish green, red and yellow flag waved placards reading "Trump = serial killer" or "the true leader of Daesh", referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Organisers said "more than 20,000 people" took part in the demonstration in Paris after Ankara stepped up its assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria on Saturday, defying mounting threats of international sanctions.

"Turkey is invading Rojava (the self-proclaimed Kurdish zone in northeast Syria) and Europe is watching," they shouted as they marched towards Chatelet in central Paris.

In France, a spokesman for one Kurdish group called for US and European Union sanctions against Turkey.

There were similar protests in other French cities including Marseille, Strasbourg - the seat of the European parliament - Bordeaux, Lille and Grenoble.

The Turkish offensive began on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump ordered American troops to pull back from the border.

The Turkish offensive on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria began Wednesday
The Turkish offensive on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria began Wednesday AFP/Boris HORVAT

Trump has faced a firestorm of criticism for abandoning a loyal ally in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group.

Pro-Kurdish protests were also held across Germany with more than 10,000 participants in Cologne, according to news agency DPA.

Scores of Kurds also marched through Cyprus?s capital Nicosia, with one protester holding up a banner that read: "Do not be an accomplice to the genocide of the Kurdish nation."

Demonstrators also gathered in Sweden and Belgium and protests will later be held in the Greek capital Athens.

"Turkey is trying to carry out an ethnic cleansing and reinforce jihadism... to make the West kneel. Since the beginning of the Turkish army invasion operation dormant Daesh cells have committed attacks," Agit Polat, spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Council in France, said in Paris.

"At all costs, there must be concrete economic sanctions from the European Union and the United States vis-avis Turkey," he added.

Polat also urged France to recall its ambassador to Turkey.

Protests were held in France as well as in Belgium, Cyprus, Germany and Sweden
Protests were held in France as well as in Belgium, Cyprus, Germany and Sweden AFP/AXEL SCHMIDT

Several French politicians from leftist to green took part in the march.

"It is historical nonsense what is happening in the north-east of Syria because they are the most faithful allies of France" said France Unbowed MP Eric Coquerel.

Green Party senator Esther Benbassa said France should suspend the sale of arms to Turkey.

Finland, Germany, Norway and The Netherlands have already announced that they are stopping arms exports to the country.

Source: AFP/nh

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