Over a Dozen Dead as Turkish Police, Kurds Clash

Over a Dozen Dead as  Turkish Police, Kurds Clash Over a Dozen Dead as  Turkish Police, Kurds Clash

Turkish police clashed with Kurdish protesters demonstrating against the IS group’s advance on the town of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border. The violence left at least 14 people dead.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported 8 dead in the eastern city of Diyarbakir and that the other victims died in cities in the east as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters who burned cars and damaged businesses, AP reported.

The activists are demanding more help for the besieged Kurdish forces struggling to hold onto Kobane.

Tensions are especially high in Turkey, where Kurds have fought a 3-decade-long battle for autonomy. Some analysts say Turkey’s reluctance to act against IS is wrapped up in the complex relationship with its own Kurdish population and the idea that it doesn’t want to help any of the Kurds in any way. President Tayyip Erdogan has called for a no-fly zone, and for the arming of opposition groups in Iraq and Syria.

The protests came after IS militants backed by tanks and artillery engaged in heavy street battles with the town’s Kurdish defenders.

Some protesters accused Turkey’s government of collaborating with the IS militants.

Authorities declared a curfew in six towns in the southeastern province of Mardin, the Anadolu Agency reported.

Hundreds of thousands of Kurds live elsewhere in Europe, and mobilized quickly via social networks to stage protests after the advance on Kobane. Some European Kurds have gone to the Mideast recently to join Kurdish forces.

 Europe Protests

In Brussels on Tuesday, about 50 protesters smashed a glass door and pushed past police to get into the European Parliament. Once inside, some protesters were received by Parliament President Martin Schulz, who promised to discuss the Kurds’ plight with NATO and EU leaders.

In Germany, home to Western Europe’s largest Kurdish population, about 600 people demonstrated in Berlin on Tuesday, according to police. Hundreds demonstrated in other German cities. Austria, too, saw protests.

Kurds peacefully occupied the Dutch Parliament for several hours Monday night, and met Tuesday with legislators to press for more Dutch action against the insurgents, according to local media.

The Netherlands has sent six F-16 fighter jets to conduct airstrikes in Iraq, but says it does not see a mandate for striking in Syria.

France, too, is firing airstrikes in Iraq but not in Syria, wary of implications on international efforts against President Bashar Assad.

“We don’t understand why France is acting in Kurdistan in Iraq and not Kurdistan in Syria,” said Fidan Unlubayir of the Federation of Kurdish Associations of France.

Canada’s parliament has also authorized airstrikes in Iraq for up to six months, but not in Syria.

Kurds also staged impromptu protests against IS in Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm.

 ‘No major Concern’

Meanwhile, several senior US administration officials say Kobane will soon fall to IS, but that it is not a major US concern, the CNN reported.

However, If Kobane falls, IS would control a complete swath of land between its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey -- a stretch of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).

The US officials said the primary goals are not to save Syrian cities and towns, but to go after IS’s senior leadership, oil refineries and other infrastructure that would curb the terror group’s ability to operate -- particularly in Iraq.

Saving Iraq is a more strategic goal for several reasons, the officials said. First, the United States has a relationship with the Iraqi government. By contrast, the Obama administration wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

But on Tuesday, a top UN official implored world leaders to take action as Syrian Kurdish fighters defending Kobane are dangerously outmatched.

“They have been defending themselves with great courage. But they are now very close to not being able to do so,” said Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria.

“They are fighting with normal weapons, whereas the IS has got tanks and mortars.”

“The international community needs to defend them,” de Mistura added. “The international community cannot sustain another city falling under IS.”