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'Down, down, Erdogan': Thousands of Syrian Kurds protest after Turkish threats

Protesters waved Kurdish and YPG flags while others carried portraits of PKK's imprisoned leader [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 January, 2018

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Several thousand people demonstrated against Erdogan on Thursday in Jawadiyeh, in the northeastern province of Hassakeh.

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in Kurdish-held parts of northern Syria on Thursday after Turkish threats to launch an offensive on the region.

In a series of statements since Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch an operation against towns in Syria controlled by the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, calling the areas "nests" of terror.

Syria's Kurdish minority, estimated at 15 percent of the population, have long been oppressed by Damascus.

The YPG, which is linked to Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has taken advantage of years of war to carve out a de facto autonomous region in Syria's north and northeast, notably the region of Afrin.

Turkey fears that could stir similar ambitions among its own substantial Kurdish population.

Several thousand people demonstrated against Erdogan on Thursday in Jawadiyeh, in the northeastern province of Hassakeh, an AFP correspondent said.

"We are united and we want to support our people in Afrin," said Abdallah Khaled, a 40-year-old protester.

Syrian-Kurds carry portraits depicting jailed founding member and leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) Abdullah Ocalan [Getty]
Read more here:

- Syria threatens to 'destroy' Turkish fighter jets

- Turkey to act in Syria if US does not withdraw 'terror' border force backing

- Syrian Kurds appeal to UN as Turkey attack imminent

- A Turkish attack on Kurds will further destabilise Syria's northwest

- Erdogan lashes out at NATO over US-backed Syria 'terror army'

Protesters shouted "Down, down, Erdogan!" and "With our soul, with our blood, we are with you Afrin!"

Some waved Kurdish and YPG flags while others carried portraits of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the PKK.

Signs in Arabic and Kurdish read: "We condemn attack by the Turkish state against our people in Afrin."

Several other parts of Kurdish-controlled territories saw similar gatherings, notably Afrin itself, where organisers said tens of thousands of people took to the streets despite the rain.

On Sunday, the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria announced that it was training local fighters, including Kurdish militia, as a "border security force".

That prompted an outcry from Ankara.

In a televised speech Monday, Erdogan threatened that "tomorrow, the day after, within a short period, we will get rid of terror nests one-by-one in Syria starting with Afrin and Manbij," also in northern Syria.

The United States insisted Wednesday it does not intend to create an "army" or conventional border guards.

Damascus said Thursday that Syria's air force could destroy any Turkish warplanes used over its territory.

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