ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Protesters took the streets of Westminster in central London on Saturday to demand Turkey withdraw its troops from the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin.
The protesters, chanting “hands off Afrin” and “Turkish state – fascist state,” also called on Britain and EU countries to end their support for Turkey and to stop selling weapons to Ankara.
They called on the west to help the Kurds who fought alongside the US-led international coalition to defeat ISIS.
“The west and particularly EU countries certainly have a debt and definitely a moral debt to the Kurds who have fought and defeated ISIS in Syria and the Middle East, so any declaration of support is necessary right now and it’s needed,” one protester told Rudaw.
“They are still selling arms to the Turkish government, to the Turkish state. And despite having an incredible human right abuse and violation record, only a few months ago [British Prime Minister] Theresa May signed a £100 million fighter jet deal with [Turkish President] Erdogan.”
Protesters also called on the UK government to repatriate the body of Anna Campbell from Syria.
Campbell was killed in a Turkish bombardment in Afrin on March 16 while fighting alongside the Kurdish-led YPJ – the all-female arms of the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG).
The 26-year-old had originally joined the YPJ to fight ISIS, but asked her commanders to allow her to fight in Afrin when Turkish forces advanced into the Kurdish canton. She is the first British woman to die fighting with the Kurds in Syria.
Ankara claims it launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20 with the aim of creating a buffer zone along Turkey’s southern border, pushing back the YPG, which Turkey says is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a named terrorist organization. The groups deny the link.
Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies seized control of Afrin city on March 18.