ADANA, Turkey, November 5 (Reuters) – Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon when hundreds of people at a pro-Palestinian march on Sunday tried to storm an air base hosting U.S. forces hours before a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He is scheduled to arrive in Ankara for talks on Gaza.
Turkey, which has intensified its criticism of Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens, supports a two-state solution while hosting members of the Palestinian Hamas movement. Since the war between Israel and Hamas began, protests have broken out across the country.
Earlier this week, IHH, a Turkish Muslim aid agency, organized a convoy to travel to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey’s southern Adana province to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza and US support for Israel.
The Incirlik base, which is used to support the international coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, includes American forces. The IHH protest called for the Incirlik base to be closed.
Footage from the protests showed police firing tear gas and using water cannons to disperse crowds waving Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanting slogans. The demonstrators toppled barriers and clashed with riot police.
Protesters were also seen throwing plastic chairs, rocks and other objects at police, who fired smoke bombs into the crowds. Clashes broke out between crowds and security forces
IHH President Bulent Yildirim addressed the crowds in Adana and urged them to refrain from attacking the police.
“Friends, it is wrong to throw stones or do similar things because the police and soldiers both want to go to Gaza and fight and they will go when the time comes,” he said.
He added: “Our anger is enormous. We cannot curb it. But Turkey is doing what it can.” The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation ended its demonstration earlier than scheduled due to clashes with the police.
The demonstration comes hours before Blinken’s expected arrival in Ankara for talks on Gaza with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan on Monday, and after Ankara’s repeated criticism of the West over support for Israel.
(Reporting by Dilara Sinkaya, Murat Sezer, Mehmet Emin Caliskan and Ali Kucukcukmen – Prepared by Mehmet for the Arabic Bulletin for the Arabic Bulletin) Writing by Tufan Cumrukcu. Edited by Giles Elgood
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