Over 100,000 Gather at Erdogan Rally Against ‘Terrorism’ in Turkey

Over 100,000 people attend “anti-terrorism” rally in Istanbul; Erdogan presses major offensive against Kurdish rebels

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More than 100,000 people — many waving Turkish flags — attended an “anti-terrorism” rally in Istanbul today, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presses a major offensive against Kurdish rebels.

The huge crowd thronged Yenikapi Square on the shores of the Marmara Sea for the demonstration, which was to culminate with an address by Erdogan.

On Thursday, thousands took part in a similar rally in the capital Ankara to denounce the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has killed dozens of police and soldiers in a string of attacks in the mainly Kurdish southeast since the collapse of a two-year ceasefire in July.

Many of the demonstrators wore red headbands that eulogised the slain security force members as “martyrs”.

“Martyrs never die, the homeland cannot be divided,” the headbands read.

Over 100,000 people attend “anti-terrorism” rally in Istanbul; Erdogan presses major offensive against Kurdish rebels
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan makes his speech during a rally against recent Kurdish militant attacks on Turkish security forces in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photos: Reuters)

Erdogan’s two-month-old offensive against the outlawed PKK -- which comes as the country prepares for a November 1 general election -- has divided Turks.

His critics accuse him of using a suicide bombing in a southeastern Turkish town that was blamed on Islamic State (IS) jihadists as a pretext for reigniting a three-decade conflict with the PKK for electoral gain.

Erdogan has tarred the PKK and IS with the same brush of extremism, but devoted much more firepower to airstrikes on PKK’s bases along Turkey’s border with Iraq than to air raids against the Kurds’ jihadist foes.

No political emblems were visible among the sea of red Turkish flags in Istanbul but many of the demonstrators expressed fervent support for Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

We will support Erdogan to the end. We are behind him because he defends our flag and our nation.
— Gunel Yildiz, Textile industry worker

(With Inputs from PTI)

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Topics:  Turkey   Istanbul   Erdogan 

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