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Syrian Kurd sets himself on fire outside UNHCR headquarters in Geneva

Emergency services responded promptly and were able to save his life. [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 October, 2019

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Tensions have been running high between the Turkish and Kurdish communities in Germany following the Turkish military's cross border offensive against Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria.
A 31-year-old Syrian Kurdish man set himself on fire outside the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday.

The man was later transported to a local hospital by helicopter.

Emergency services responded promptly and were reportedly able to save his life, transferring him to the Lausanne University Hospital which specialises in the treatment of burns.

"He is a Syrian Kurd, born in 1988 and a resident in Germany," the Geneva police spokesperson Silvain Guillaume-Gentil told local news outlet 20Minutes

"We can speculate about his motives, but have nothing concrete. He had trouble explaining himself when help arrived," he added.

Also read: Cutting deals with the devil: US betrayal pushes Syria's Kurds into clutches of regime

The incident reportedly took place at around 7.40am when employees were entering the building to begin their workday.

"I was woken up by screams from the street," a local resident told the news station. "Repeated cries of distress, I saw that something was happening outside UNHCR. There were many police cars, an ambulance and firemen…later I saw a man leave on a stretcher." 

High tensions

Emotions have been running high in Germany between the Turkish and Kurdish communities over the recent Turkish offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria. Large demonstrations have been held by both communities, with German police having to separate them. Some clashes have also been reported.

Turkish military forces launched a cross-border offensive on 9 October against the Kurdish YPG militia, viewed by Ankara as "terrorists" linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

A US-brokered ceasefire halted the conflict, following which
Turkey said on Wednesday there was "no need" to restart its offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria. 

The comments came after Russia and Turkey agreed on Tuesday to ensure Kurdish forces withdraw from areas close to Syria's border with Turkey and to launch joint patrols. 

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the fighting, and more than 200,000 have been forced to flee, according the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

[click to enlarge]

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