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After civilian killed in airstrike, protesters in Sulaimani march against Turkish military operations

Brief scuffles, tasers deployed against demonstrators
Protesters march in Sulaimani on June 18, 2020 in response to Turkish airstrikes in the Kurdistan Region and northern Iraq (NRT Digital Media)
2020-06-18

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SULAIMANI — Flanked by lines of police in riot gear, several hundred people marched down Salim Street in central Sulaimani city on Thursday (June 18) against the recent Turkish military operations in the Kurdistan Region and northern Iraq.

Initially gathering outside Bakhi Gishty, the protesters were prevented from marching towards the bazaar, leading to brief scuffles with the security forces, who deployed tasers and pepper spray.

Chanting “death to treason” and “out out, Turkish Army out,” the marchers then headed in the opposite direction, past the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Fourth Branch building, before ending with a rally in the Saholaka commercial district.

On Monday and Tuesday, Turkish forces launched a series of airstrikes across northern Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, hitting targets in Qandil, Makhmour, Haji Omaran, and Mount Sinjar.

It then followed up those strikes with a ground operation in Duhok governorate on Wednesday, along with additional airstrikes, one of which killed a civilian in Erbil governorate’s Sidikan district.

Following the initial attacks, there were protests in Sulaimani, northeastern Syria, and Europe. Thursday’s protest in Sulaimani was slightly larger than Monday’s march, but was attended by a far heavier security presence.

Earlier on Thursday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador for the second time in three days to submit another formal letter of protest against the Turkish attacks. So far, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has remained silent.

Turkey has justified its actions as necessary to protect its national security, arguing that the cross-border attacks are to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has a significant presence in northern Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

According to conflict tracker Airwars, those strikes have killed at least 36 civilians since August 2015.

(NRT Digital Media)