Turkish Convoy Fires on Stone-Throwing Protesters in Northeastern Syria

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia on Tuesday said several civilians were killed when a Turkish military convoy opened fire on stone-throwing protesters in the town of Kobani in northeastern Syria.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said the Turkish army “is firing live bullets on Kurdish protesters and killing them in broad daylight, before the eyes of the whole world.”

According to the SDF, the Turkish patrol was the fifth to pass through the area since joint patrols with the Russian military began in late October. In addition to holding a protest rally in Kobane, local residents confronted the convoy and threw stones at its armored vehicles as they passed.

“We as mothers and people of Kobani do not want Erdogan to step on our soil and the blood of our children. We will attack with stones as long as we can and we do,” said one elderly woman caught on video as she heaved rocks at the convoy. She was referring to the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Long live the resistance of the SDF!” exclaimed another female demonstrator.

The Turkish military said the patrol responded to a “provocation” and took action to protect local civilians against “terrorists” mixed in with the protesters. A Turkish Defense Ministry statement said patrols would continue “with due care and diligence for the safety of both civilians and our military personnel.”

A report from Al-Arabiya on Tuesday quoted the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stating that nine civilians were shot and injured during the confrontation. Al-Arabiya did not mention any fatalities, while the SDF claimed several people were killed.

Over on the Iraqi frontier of the former Islamic State “caliphate,” a commander with the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga militia warned on Tuesday that Turkey’s invasion of Syria has unleashed chaos that will help ISIS rally its forces and become a serious military threat again.

Kurdistan 24 News quoted peshmerga General Sirwan Barzani warning that his forces and their allies “don’t have enough of a presence to prevent ISIS from accessing the Quarachukh mountain,” a mountain that has long been a rally point and hiding place for ISIS fighters.

Barzani said the confused “multi-party military presence” in Syria was giving ISIS fighters an opportunity to slip across the border into Iraq and join up with local groups. U.S. officials confirmed more Islamic State activity has been detected in the area around the mountain.

Barzani’s solution was for the international anti-ISIS coalition to ask the Iraqi military to send more troops to control the border region with Syria. The Baghdad government is currently dealing with widespread protests demanding mass resignations, so it might have trouble organizing meaningful military assistance for the peshmerga.

Earlier in November, he said the need to keep Iraqi and Kurdish forces separate was creating unpatrolled areas in the Iraqi wilderness that ISIS could move through under cover of darkness or by using tunnels. The ISIS remnants have reportedly used this freedom of movement to establish control over small villages and loot them of money and resources.