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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Kurdish protests expected across UK over Turkish offensive in Afrin

Demonstrations shut down King's Cross and Manchester Piccadilly train stations on Sunday

People attend an Afrin protest at King's Cross station in London on March 11 in this picture obtained from social media. Ashok Kumar / Reuters
People attend an Afrin protest at King's Cross station in London on March 11 in this picture obtained from social media. Ashok Kumar / Reuters

Kurdish protests are planned around Britain this week as part of a major action by community groups in various European cities to highlight the plight of the northern Syrian enclave targeted by Turkish forces.

Hundreds of pro-Kurdish supporters closed major train stations in London and Manchester and clashed with police at the airport in Dusseldorf, Germany on Sunday to protest against Ankara’s offensive in Afrin.

More UK demonstrations are expected this week with the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign group calling for protests in London and Cardiff later today, and in Bristol on Wednesday.

Traveller Chris Woodhouse told Sky News that some families were reduced in tears during Sunday’s protests in Manchester as trains were cancelled or delayed for more than an hour. Travel disruption was specially stressful for those trying to get to the city’s airport.

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Read more:

Kurdish protesters clash with police at German airport and disrupt UK stations

Fears for civilians in Afrin as Turkish forces close in

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Social media images showed flag-waving demonstrators on the rail tracks at Manchester Piccadilly station carrying yellow banners in support of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Some carried signs saying "stop Turkey from helping Isis terrorists".

London’s King’s Cross train station was closed for several hours on Sunday evening and trains were diverted when protesters converged outside of the station. They held signs reading: "Hands off Afrin".

British Transport Police told The National today that there were no arrests.

An estimated 200 pro-Kurdish demonstrators clashed with police and pro-Turkish supporters at Dusseldorf’s airport on Sunday and police reportedly used pepper spray on the crowd as “a number” of people were injured.

One of the Dusseldorf protesters held up a banner reading "Afrin is becoming our Vietnam - We will defeat fascism".

Afrin is under attack by Turkish military in what some Kurds consider ethnic cleansing. Tukey, however, accuses the YPG of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Nato considers a terrorist group.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to "purge" Kurdish militia from Afrin.

On Monday, the Turkish army told the Anadolu news agency that its military had "neutralised" 3,347 YPG fighters since its cross-border Operation Olive Branch” began in late January.

The group Friends of Kurdistan Manchester posted a statement on Facebook saying that Sunday’s protests were part of an international day of action to highlight events in Afrin. The group didn’t respond to a request for comment from The National today.

"The Kurdish community and its allies are marching in Manchester, and across the world, in solidarity with the defenders of Afrin and demanding international intervention," they said. "Turkey is the second-largest army in Nato and his forces have committed numerous war crimes since crossing the border into Afrin."