Thousands in Europe march against Turkey's Syria offensive

Paris (AFP) –


Thousands of people, some shouting "Erdogan terrorist", took to the streets of Paris and other European cities on Saturday in protest at the Turkish assault on Kurds in Syria.

Protesters marching under the Kurdish green, red and yellow flag waved placards reading "Trump = serial killer" or "the true leader of Daesh", referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Organisers said "more than 20,000 people" took part in the demonstration in Paris after Ankara stepped up its assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria on Saturday, defying mounting threats of international sanctions.

The Turkish offensive began on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump ordered American troops to pull back from the border.

Trump has faced a firestorm of criticism for abandoning a loyal ally in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group.

Pro-Kurdish protests were also held across Germany with more than 10,000 participants in Cologne, according to news agency DPA.

Scores of Kurds also marched through Cyprus?s capital Nicosia, with one protester holding up a banner that read: "Do not be an accomplice to the genocide of the Kurdish nation."

Demonstrators also gathered in Sweden and Belgium and protests will later be held in the Greek capital Athens.

"Turkey is trying to carry out an ethnic cleansing and reinforce jihadism... to make the West kneel. Since the beginning of the Turkish army invasion operation dormant Daesh cells have committed attacks," Agit Polat, spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Council in France, said in Paris.

"At all costs, there must be concrete economic sanctions from the European Union and the United States vis-avis Turkey," he added.

Polat also urged France to recall its ambassador to Turkey.

Several French politicians from leftist to green took part in the march.

"It is historical nonsense what is happening in the north-east of Syria because they are the most faithful allies of France" said France Unbowed MP Eric Coquerel.

Green Party senator Esther Benbassa said France should suspend the sale of arms to Turkey.

Finland, Germany, Norway and The Netherlands have already announced that they are stopping arms exports to the country.