A large number of people in the city of Sulaimani took to the streets showing solidarity and support for Afrin and strongly condemning the continued Turkish military attack on Afrin the world's silence in the face of the incursion.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish people across several cities and districts poured into the streets on Saturday to protest the continued Turkish military attacks on the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria, known to Kurds as Rojava.
The protests – largely organized by the Kurdish National Congress (KNK) under the banner of ‘The South is supporting the resonance of Afrin’ – took place in Erbil, Sulaimani, Raniya, Koya and Kalar.
Groups from across society took part, including teachers, students, clerics, political activists and party leaders, who called on the international community to speak out and help stop the Turkish aggression.
In the Kurdistan Region’s capital Erbil, protesters reiterated their support for Afrin under the banner of ‘Long live resistance, long live resistance’ in reference to the defense put up by the Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and pro-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the slow advance of Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies, which began more than a month ago.
"The aim of this gathering is to all together, with one color and voice, support the resistance of Afrin," said a woman organizer of the gathering in Erbil. "It has been a long time since we were not able to show unity for the Kurdish cause anywhere."
They called on the international community, notably Europe, Russia and the US, to stop Turkey's attacks on Afrin.
"Only unity, unanimity, could bring success to us over the invaders and the woes of our nation as we are surrounded by enemies," said one protester.
"They never showed mercy towards the Kurds. We have to show mercy to ourselves through being united."
"We have come here to deliver the message of national unity to Afrin," he said.
In Sulaimani, demonstrators wore clothing in the style of Rojava Kurds and played national music. They called on the international community to stop the Turkish attacks.
Video: A large number of protesters took to the streets of Sulaimani showing support for Afrin and condemning Turkish military attacks on the Kurdish enclave in Rojava or northern Syria.
"The threats to Afrin are there, the threats on [the Kurdistan Region], Kobane and Rojava are all still there. We should learn to be united, at least in the face of the dangers," Abdullah Mullah Nuri, a former Kurdish MP, told Rudaw in Sulaimani.
"We are supporting Afrin with a revolutionary spirit. We are thanking them. We must be together hand in hand to prevent the enemies from invading our lands," cried a youth among the demonstrators.
In the province of Halabja, near the Iranian border, protesters kicked off their day of action with the Kurdish national anthem ‘Ey Raqib.’
Video: Civil activists and ordinary people staged a gathering in Halabja showing support for Afrin and calling on the international community to help stop the Turkish military attack on the Kurdish border city.
In the city of Raniya (130 kilometers northwest of Sulaimani), popularly known as the epicenter of the Kurdish uprising of March 1991, protesters also took to the streets. Here the demonstrations marched under the banner of ‘The Heart of [Raniya] is in the city of olive.'
Video: Hundreds of people poured into the streets of Raniya slamming Turkey's attack along with its Syrian proxies on Afrin.
A massive demonstration simultaneously took place in the town of Koya, southeast of Erbil.
Video: Various groups in society including teachers, students and clerics held a gathering in downtown Koya condemning the international community's inaction on Turkey's sustained military attack on Afrin.
"We are sending a message to the Kurdish-killers wherever they are in this world; as Kurds we are backing each other at good and bad times," said an organizer of the protest in Koya.
They organized the protest "on behalf and in the name of all the people of Koya to show support and solidarity to our brothers in Afrin."
In the capital of Garmiyan bloc, Kalar, demonstrators took to the streets showing solidarity with Afrin, with Kurdish MPs from the Kurdistan parliament encouraging the protesters to continue to show their support.
Video: Hundreds of people including clerics and MPs protesting the Turkey's military bombardments and shellings of the Kurdish enclave, Afrin in northern Syria took to the streets of Kalar in Garmiyan bloc.
"The question of Afrin is not of just a segment [of Kurdistan]. What really is happening nowadays in Afrin will directly affect the freedom of Kirkuk. Our hearts hurt for Kirkuk. We know what happened to it. But by supporting the resistance of Afrin, the map drawn in Ankara will be shattered into pieces," Salar Mahmood, a Kurdish MP who was barred by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities from entering Rojava as part of a parliament delegation to Afrin earlier this month, told protesters in Kalar.
"Afrin will certainly not fall. Afrin will prevail," he said, insisting the Kurdish fighters of the YPG will even impose their will on Azzaz, Idlib and Jarablous, three cities that have come under the control of Turkish forces.
"The love for homeland emanates from failth" Mullah Mohammed Amin, a Kurdish preacher among the protesters said, urging Kurds across the world to show solidarity with Afrin.
Turkish military attacks and bombardments, however, continued through Saturday.
Turkey has escalated its bombardment of Afrin from the air and the land, as its forces and Syrian proxies gain ground, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated on Saturday, noting that the number of casualties continues to rise.
Turkish forces and their allied Syrian militias took control of two more villages in the Jandaris area on Saturday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported, naming the villages as Abu Kab and Hajilar.
Since Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20, 129 civilians have been killed, including 24 children and 19 women, according to the Observatory, a UK-based conflict monitor.
Turkey has denied all reports of civilian casualties.
The Observatory has also documented 256 deaths among Olive Branch forces, including 40 Turkish soldiers, and 239 deaths among the YPG ranks and self-defence forces of Afrin.