More than 200 people gathered outside the Russian consulate in Istanbul on Thursday to protest against the deadly assault on Syria’s rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
More than 350 civilians have been killed in the five-day-old blitz by the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad in the area near Damascus.
Russia, which supports the Assad government, has been accused of taking part in air strikes but the Kremlin denied involvement on Wednesday, calling the accusations “groundless.”
— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) February 22, 2018
The demonstrators, most of them Syrians, chanted slogans against Damascus as well as Moscow and another regime supporter, Iran, an AFP correspondent said. They called on the major powers to bring pressure to bear to “end the bloodbath.” Others held placards saying “Russians, you are killing Ghouta’s children, but history records” and “Children are dying of hunger in under-siege Eastern Ghouta.”
Over three million Syrian refugees live in Turkey including nearly 540,000 in Istanbul after fleeing the conflict which began with anti-government protests in 2011.
Now a multi-front war, Russia entered in September 2015, sending planes to back the Assad regime and turning the military situation around in Damascus’s favor. Turkey, which has supported Syrian rebels in the conflict, has been working closely with Moscow and Tehran on a process to bring peace to Syria, despite occasional tensions.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Wednesday said Turkey condemned the attacks and “urged the Syrian regime to immediately put an end” to them.
“It is a crime against humanity. That is to say, killing innocent people in East Ghouta is unacceptable whatever the reason is,” Mr. Kalin said.