ISTANBUL: Turkish police Sunday blocked the entrance to Istanbul's Gezi Park, the epicentre of anti-government protests in June, to prevent a demonstration there against a possible military intervention in Syria.
Riot police advanced with shields but held back from using tear gas or water cannon against about 1000 activists who instead formed a human chain on the city's celebrated Istiklal Avenue, according to an AFP photographer who witnessed the scene.
"United States, killers, stay out of Syria," shouted protesters, who are firmly opposed to Ankara's support for proposed US-led air strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Smaller human chains were formed in neighbourhoods across Istanbul, with many protests organised by the same groups who had occupied the park to fight against its commercial development.
June's unrest erupted when a peaceful sit-in on May 31 was met with a heavy-handed response that left at least five dead and thousands injured in three weeks of clashes between protesters and police.
The violence spiralled into nationwide demos against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), accused of repressing critics and of forcing Islamic values on the mainly Muslim but staunchly secular nation.