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November 07, 2013

Turkish Police Fire Tear Gas as Kurds Protest Against Wall

by Reuters

Turkish riot police fired tear gas on Thursday to disperse Kurdish protesters demonstrating against government plans to build a wall along part of the border with Syria.

Thousands of mostly young men, many waving red, yellow and green Kurdish flags, had earlier gathered to protest the plans in the Turkish town of Nusaybin, separated from the Syrian town of Qamishli by a strip of no-man's land and barbed wire fencing.

Officials said last month Turkey was building a two-meter high wall to stop people bypassing checkpoints and prevent smuggling near Qamishli, where Kurdish fighters, Syrian rebel units and Arab tribes have regularly clashed.

Kurdish groups have decried the move as a government effort to prevent Kurdish communities on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border from strengthening ties.

Syrian Kurdish groups say they have captured more territory from Islamist rebels in northeastern Syria in recent weeks, tightening their grip on an area where they have been seeking to establish autonomous rule.

Their assertiveness has posed a quandary for Ankara as it tries to make peace on its own soil with militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.