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Solidarity in Turkey While “Friends of Syria” Confer

[This just in from our man in Istanbul.] While the “Friends of Syria Group” met in Istanbul today for its second conference seeking solutions to the ongoing crisis, a group of 20 students and refugees marched in solidarity with the Syrian opposition down Istiklal Cadessi—the main pedestrian thoroughfare in Istanbul’s commercial district. Such pro-opposition protests have been few and far between in Turkey, but what distinguished this demonstration was neither the sentiment nor the number of participants.

Chanting anti-Assad slogans in Arabic, along with the occasional emphatic “Allahu Akbaru,” the group received several ovations from passers-by, stopping often to revel in the attention. Observers repeatedly gathered in groups and shouted “down with the Assad regime” in Turkish, some of them repeating the rhetoric of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has frequently condemned the embattled regime in Damascus.

While rumors are swirling about the proceedings and potential outcomes of the second Friends of Syria meeting, today’s protest—and the reaction of observers—is a rare glimpse at the solidarity felt by Istanbul residents toward Syrians suffering just over their country’s southeastern border.

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