Kurdish protesters clashed with police in Turkey leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured Tuesday as demonstrators in Brussels forced their way into the European Parliament, part of Europe-wide demonstrations against the Islamic State group's advance on a town on the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey's private Dogan news agency reported 8 dead in the eastern city of Diyarbakir and that the other victims died in cities in the east as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters who burned cars and damaged businesses.
The activists are demanding more help for the besieged Kurdish forces struggling to hold onto the Syrian town of Kobane. Some European countries are arming the Kurds, and the American-led coalition is carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic extremists, but protesters say it isn't enough. A demonstrator in Cyprus urged the coalition to "hit the jihadists harder" so that Kurdish forces can hold the town.
Tensions are especially high in Turkey, where Kurds have fought a 3-decade-long battle for autonomy and where Syria's violence has taken an especially heavy toll. Protests were reported in cities across Turkey on Tuesday, after Islamic State fighters backed by tanks and artillery engaged in heavy street battles with the town's Kurdish defenders.
Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Istanbul and in the desert town of Kucuk Kenderciler, near Kobane on the Turkish side of the border. One person in Istanbul was hospitalized after being hit in the head by a gas canister, Dogan reported. Some protesters shouted "Murderer ISIS!" and accused Turkey's government of collaborating with the Islamic militants.
Authorities declared a curfew in six towns in the southeastern province of Mardin, the Anadolu Agency reported. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds live elsewhere in Europe, and mobilised quickly via social networks to stage protests after the advance on Kobane. Some European Kurds have gone to the Mideast recently to join Kurdish forces.
In Brussels on Tuesday, about 50 protesters smashed a glass door and pushed past police to get into the European Parliament. Once inside, some protesters were received by Parliament President Martin Schulz, who promised to discuss the Kurds' plight with NATO and EU leaders. In Germany, home to Western Europe's largest Kurdish population, about 600 people demonstrated in Berlin on Tuesday, according to police. Hundreds demonstrated in other German cities. Austria, too, saw protests.
Kurds peacefully occupied the Dutch Parliament for several hours Monday night, and met Tuesday with legislators to press for more Dutch action against the insurgents, according to local media. The Netherlands has sent six F-16 fighter jets to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq, but says it does not see a mandate for striking in Syria.
France, too, is firing airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq but not in Syria, wary of implications on international efforts against President Bashar Assad. "We don't understand why France is acting in Kurdistan in Iraq and not Kurdistan in Syria," said Fidan Unlubayir of the Federation of Kurdish Associations of France.
Kurds protested overnight at the French Parliament and plan another protest Tuesday. Kurds also staged impromptu protests against the Islamic State fighters in Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm. On Monday, protesters at the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus urged the international coalition to provide heavy weaponry to Kurdish fighters and forge a military cooperation pact with the Kurdish group YPG.
Islamic State conflict in Turkey