ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: Clashes erupt as thousands of Kurds gathered in the southeast town of Viransehir on Sunday for a demonstration organized by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party to show solidarity with Syrian Kurds.
Clashes broke out when riot police charged at a group of protesters who chanted illegal slogans favoring PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Syrian Kurds have long faced discrimination, a lack of full citizenship rights and forced displacements. But Assad sought to dissuade them from joining the uprising against him that erupted elsewhere in March 2011 by promising citizenship.
In the last few weeks, Syrian President Assad's forces have withdrawn from Kurdish towns or left only a token presence, opposition activists, security experts and diplomats say. The rebel Free Syrian Army is also absent, leaving Kurds to their own devices.
Turkey has accused Assad of arming a Syrian Kurdish party closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey for the past 28 years in a struggle in which 40,000 people have been killed.