Following protests in Kurdish-populated regions of western Iran on Friday, hundreds of people gathered at the Turkish embassy in Tehran Saturday afternoon to voice their anger at Turkey’s attack on Kurdish areas in Syria.
A day earlier, unknown people wrote slogans on the walls of the Turkish embassy condemning the military operation and calling President Recep Erdogan a “criminal”.
Slogans written on the walls of the Turkish embassy in Tehran
Turkey decided to send its army into northeastern Syria in a large military operation this week to carve out a “safe zone”, accusing Kurdish forces who fought with the United States against the Islamic State group of being “terrorists”.
Unconfirmed reports say several protesters were arrested on Saturday outside the Turkish embassy. So far Iranian or Turkish government officials have not commented on the protests.
However, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news website quoted the foreign ministry spokesman as saying that writing slogans on the embassy walls “cannot be condoned”. Given Iran’s usual harsh reactions against all protests, this can be seen as a mild reaction.
There were protests in at least five towns and cities on Friday and Saturday and a Kurdish human rights organization says several people who took part in demonstrations were arrested Saturday morning.
A large protest in Marivan, a Kurdish town in western Iran on Saturday.
Iran has millions of Kurdish citizens who sympathize with Syria’s Kurds. The Islamic Republic government faces a difficult situation as Turkey is a friendly country, but Tehran must also contain the anger of its Kurdish citizens. There are several Kurdish-Iranian opposition and insurgent armed groups demanding autonomy or independence and frequently engaging in bloody clashes with security forces.
As a result of Turkish shelling and air attacks there are many civilian casualties among Kurds in Syria. The United States adopted a tough tone against Turkey’s operation on Friday, threatening sanctions if Ankara continues to use overwhelming force.
Earlier, President Donald Trump had signaled his agreement or neutrality for the Turkish attack.