The situation in Istanbul is escalating once again as riot police have brought back tear gas and water cannons to try and clear demonstrators out of Taksim Square. On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan declared "no more tolerance" for the protestors who have taken over the square over the last two weeks, drawing a line between the more violent clashes in Taksim and the protestors in Gezi Park, who have generally been more peaceful.
Erdogan has described the protesters as "marginal groups," "looters," and "extremists," even though his deputy suggested he was willing to meet with environmentalists who led the Gezi Park protests. However, he's shown no sign that he's willing to back down on plans to turn the park (one of the last public parks remaining in Istanbul) into a business development or give into any demands from rioters.
Sometime around dawn in Istanbul, hundreds of riot cops began descending on the square with massive water cannons, which were met by crowds wearing gas masks and throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. Many of the protesters had erected barricades or created their own homemade riot shields to try and protect themselves from the larger police vehicles. Government officials also appeared to be upset by the demonstrators' decision to use a statue of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, Turkey's revered founder, as a centerpiece of their protests by covering it in banners. Erdogan thanked police for removing the "rags" from that statue and other nearby buildings.
Photographers and other journalists on the ground have managed to capture some incredible images of the conflict and we've gathered some of the most interesting ones below.
Protesters taunt the riot police during a protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
A protester catches fire as the throws a petrol bomb at riot police during a protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Protesters take cover behind a destroyed caterpillar during a protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
AP Photo/Thanassis Stavraki
A police vehicle fires water cannon to extinguish a fire of another vehicle after protesters threw a petrol bomb during a police operation to evacuate Taksim Square in Istanbul Tuesday, June 11, 2013. AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
A protester lays under a wheel of a police water cannon as other tries to pull out him during a police operation to evacuate Taksim Square in Istanbul Tuesday, June 11, 2013. AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis