More than 5,000 people gathered in Istanbul Thursday in protest of the growing tensions between Turkey and Syria; urging Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to declare war on Damascus.
Protestors waved signs reading: "No to war!," "Peace now! We won't be soldiers of imperialists!" and "This war is not my war"; in addition to signs mocking PM Erdogan and his party: "Justice and Development Party wants war, the people want peace. No to war, Peace Now." One sign had a swastika drawn on it.
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The BBC reported that other, smaller anti-war rallies were witnessed in Izmir, Mersin, Eskisehir and other cities and towns. A few dozen people chanting "We don't war" gathered in Ankara, with police firing tear gas to stop them from reaching the parliament building.
The rally (Photos: AP)
As result of the tension with Damascus, the Turkish parliament authorized on Thursday taking "the necessary military action" across the border, though Erdogan said: "We want peace and security and nothing else. We could never be interested in something like starting a war.
"The Turkish Republic is a state capable of defending its citizens and borders. Nobody should try and test our determination on this subject," he added.
A survey by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet concluded that 60% of the public were opposed the parliamentary bill.
Also on Thursday, the UN Security Council issued an official condemnation of the fire that killed five Turks earlier in the week and called on the Syrian government to "Fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors."
It said the incident "Highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbors and on regional peace and stability".
The UNSC further added that Syria's breach of International law should stop immediately. Diplomats privy to the matter said issuing the censure was a compromise between the West and Russia.
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