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Turkey to Lift Curfew in Kurdish Majority City

Co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, Selahattin Demirtas walks with his party members to the southeastern town of Cizre, near Idil in Sirnak province, Turkey, Sept. 10, 2015.

Turkey said Friday said it would lift a week-long curfew in a southeastern city imposed to support a military operation against Kurdish rebels that has also fueled fears of a possible humanitarian crisis.

The curfew in Cizre, in place since September 4, will end on Saturday at 7:00 am (0400 GMT), said the statement from Sirnak regional governor Ali Ihsan Su.

The operation against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants had sparked concern for Cizre's inhabitants, with reports of food running out, residents unable to seek urgent treatment and burials of the dead impossible.

The Council of Europe, a top European human rights body, on Friday called on Turkey to allow independent observers into Cizre, a mainly Kurdish town the Syrian border.

Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, expressed concern about allegations of use of force against civilians in Cizre.

“I have received serious allegations of disproportionate use of force by security forces against civilians,” Muiznieks said in a written statement.

Turkish Interior Minister Selami Altinok said seven suspected Kurdish rebels and one civilian have died in clashes in the town. A pro-Kurdish opposition party says 21 civilians have been killed.

The town also remains under a virtual news blackout, and activists say the curfew has severely disrupted life in the town of some 100,000 inhabitants, with people complaining of shortages of food and medical services.

Authorities this week barred a delegation of pro-Kurdish party officials from entering Cizre. Deputy Turkish Prime Minister Cevdet Yilmaz said the delegation was being prevented from entering for its own safety.

The Turkish government has vowed to fight the rebels until the group agrees to disarm.