Thousands gathered in Qamishli, northern Syria, on Sunday in protest of the latest announcement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan which would see the creation of a “security zone” in northern Syria.
Footage shows thousands of Syrians marching through the city, waving flags and signs against the security zone, calling it ‘Turkish occupation.’
Erdogan announced on January 14 that Turkey would set up a 20-mile (30 kilometre) security zone along the Turkish-Syrian border, an idea which was reportedly suggested by US President Donald Trump.
The security zone would be intended as a protective measure against the Kurdish militia in Syria (YPG) which Turkey considers to be a terrorist organisation and a branch of the outlawed Kurdish party in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Syrian foreign ministry denounced the security zone announcement as ‘the language of occupation.’
“There are demands of international protection, which call for a no-fly-zone over this area,” said Abdul Kareem Saroukhan, head of the Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria. “There are legitimate and legal demands to protect the people from the threats by the Turkish state.”
The protest took place on the first anniversary of the start of the ‘Operation Olive Branch’ offensive in which Turkish forces took control of the the majority Kurdish district of Afrin, in Aleppo.