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Syria: thousands of Kurds demonstrate against Turkish strikes

Ankara has been carrying out an air operation called "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 perpetrated the November 13 attack in Istanbul.

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Syria: thousands of Kurds demonstrate against Turkish strikes

Ankara has been carrying out an air operation called "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 perpetrated the November 13 attack in Istanbul. , which killed six people. Kurdish forces have denied any involvement.

After a three-day lull, Turkey carried out fresh airstrikes early Sunday against Kurdish-held areas north of Aleppo, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH). and who has an extensive network of sources in Syria.

Five Syrian soldiers were killed by a Turkish drone strike in a village near the town of Tal Rifaat, north of Aleppo, said the OSDH, which reported an exchange of artillery fire between the Kurdish forces on the one hand, and Turkish forces and Syrian factions loyal to them in the region.

Since November 20, around 65 people have been killed in Turkish strikes which have mainly been concentrated in northeastern Syria: 35 fighters from the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their allies, 28 members of the of the Syrian regime, as well as a journalist working for a Kurdish news agency, according to the OSDH. Most of them fell on the first day of the raids.

On Sunday, in the town of Qamichli, in the Hassaké region, thousands of demonstrators, according to an AFP photographer, denounced Turkey's strikes as well as the threats of a ground offensive that it is hovering over.

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," Siham Sleiman, a 49-year-old protester, told AFP.

"We are victims of an eradication," said another protester, Salah el-dine Hamou, 55. "How long 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 carried out three major operations in northern Syria against Kurdish militias and organizations. Ankara repeats wanting to create a 30 km wide "security zone" along its southern border.

Regime forces have deployed in areas controlled by Kurdish fighters, under agreements to stem a new Turkish operation.

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