Thousands in Zurich protest Turkey’s Syria offensive
Several thousand Kurds and sympathisers demonstrated on Saturday afternoon in Zurich against the Turkish offensive in northern Syria. Several hundred also protested in Bellinzona in southern Switzerland.
The participants chanted shouts like “Turkish army out of Kurdistan”, “Erdogan, terrorist” and “Stop the terror”. There were no incidents, according to Zurich city police.
This comes after some 1,000 mainly Kurdish people held a similar protest in Bern on Friday and 250 in Geneva.
The protestors called for Syria to “get out of Kurdistan” and for Switzerland to act by imposing economic and diplomatic sanctions against Turkey.
Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis on Thursday criticised the Turkish military operation in northern Syria, calling it a flagrant violation of international law. His ministry had earlier issued a statement saying that any further escalation of violence in northeast Syria “would have serious consequences for the already suffering civil population”.
Fierce fighting was reported on Saturday as Turkish forces launched an attack on the key Kurdish border town of Ras Al-Ain.
More than 100,000 people have fled their homes since the offensive began on Wednesday, according to the UN, which warns of humanitarian disaster.
A major concern for the international community is also the fate of thousands of suspected Islamic State prisoners, including many foreign nationals, being guarded by Kurdish-led forces in the region.
Turkey’s President Erdogan has said he wants to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria free of Kurdish militias which Turkey sees as terrorists. Erdogen says the zone could also be home to more than 3 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.