Thousands of Kurds demonstrated Wednesday in front of the UN headquarters in Arbil to demand international support for the Syrian town of Kobane as it tries to resist a deadly jihadist assault.
Most of the demonstrators in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region were supporters of Turkey’s banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and protested against Ankara’s stance.
Turkey’s lack of action to protect Kobane — in and around which an estimated 400 people have died since Islamic State fighters first attacked it in mid-September — has drawn a furious response.
At least 18 people have been killed in protests across Turkey over the Turkish government’s passive stance.
“We have demanded that the UN deliver urgent aid to the Kobane people, humanitarian aid and military assistance,” said Ghafur Makhmuri, one of the organisers of the Arbil protest.
“We asked them to establish an air corridor to deliver this aid. The UN has done this in several countries,” he said.
The protesters were waving PKK flags and portraits of party leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is jailed in Turkey.
“Kobane and Kurdistan are the victims of a genocidal campaign and we are here to prevent this crime,” said Layla Jlick. “We demand that all Kurds remain united.”
The main group defending the border town of Kobane is the YPG, the de facto army of Syria’s Kurdish region. The militia is thought to have ties with the PKK.
Both the YPG and PKK, which has been hosted by the Iraqi Kurdish authorities, have fought the Islamic State group in Iraq over the past few months.