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Kurds protest inaction on Kobani

October 11, 2014

At least 20,000 Kurds have protested in Germany's Rhine river city of Düsseldorf to demand worldwide support for an embattled Syrian border town. Kurdish militias in Kobani face advances by "Islamic State" extremists.

Düsseldorf Kurden Demonstration Terror IS 11.10.2014
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Augstein

Banners carried by Kurdish protestors to an assembly area outside Düsseldorf's regional parliament on Saturday warned of a "looming massacre" of Kurds remaining in Kobani if it was captured fully by jihadist Islamic State (IS) fighters.

Demonstrators also demanded that Turkey, whose troops guard the border but remain otherwise non-interventionist, be pressured by Germany to set up a corridor for civilians to flee Kobani while allowing arms deliveries to Kurdish fighters trying to defend the strategic northern Syrian town.

Their banners (pictured) also demanded "Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan," the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), who remains in prison in Turkey.

Joint action by Arab states 'necessary'

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the Berlin weekly Tagesspiegal am Sonntag that Germany was "trying to persuade the Arab nations, and Turkey and Iran, that it is necessary to proceed jointly against the IS."

Police in Düsseldorf, the capital of Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said Saturday's demonstration passed off peacefully.

On Tuesday night in Hamburg, several hundred IS sympathizers had clashed with several hundred Kurds at the end of an otherwise peaceful Kurdish protest. In Turkey earlier this week, Kurdish protests ended in violence.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told the news magazine Spiegel that German authorities had begun conducting investigations into more than 200 suspected supporters of the jihadist movement. Measures to restrain them were being considered.

Maas rejected calls to tighten German law, saying: "Pure blind action won't stop a terrorist."

"One of the goals of the IS is to do exactly that; to undermine the rule of law and democracy, " Mass said. Their intention must be opposed "with determination, reason and sound judgment," he said.

'Only simple weapons'

At Suruc, a Turkish border town across the border from Kobani, senior Kurdish official Ismet Scheikh Hasan told the news agency Association Press that IS fighters had advanced into Kobani's southern and eastern areas.

Kurdish militiamen were defending that town but "we have only simple weapons and they [the IS combatants] have heavy weapons, Hasan said.

Hasan added that US-led airstrikes aimed at IS positions in northern Syria were not effective. He called on the United Nations to intervene and urged Turkey to open a corridor to allow remaining civilians to leave Kobani and arms supplies to enter.

ipj/glb (dpa, Reuters, AP, epd)