Assad Loyalists Said to Have Killed Kurds in Qahtaniya

Yossi Melman
Haaretz Correspondent
Yossi Melman
Haaretz Correspondent

As clashes continued Monday between pro-regime forces in Syria and the nation's Kurdish minority, loyalists of President Bashar Assad were reported to have committed acts of violence against Kurds in the Syrian city of Qahtaniya, killing a number of them.

Most of the Kurds in the city, where the some 2,000 Kurds comprise 10 percent of the population, were said to have fled Qahtaniya for a Kurdish town close to the Iraqi border.

Syria Monday sealed off its borders with Iraq after Iraqi Kurd fighters threatened to enter the country if violent clashes between security forces and their Syrian brethren were not brought to an end.

Other reports, from hospitals in the city of Qamishli on the Turkish border, where the riots began last Friday, indicated that some 400 Kurds who had been hospitalized for injuries sustained in the unrest, were expelled from the hospital in order to make room for Syrian soldiers to be housed there.

The internet site of the Kurdish party in Syria published video footage in which Syrian soldiers were seen going house to house in the course of the rioting.

Disturbances continued throughout the Kurdish regions in the north of the country, as an American delegation was sent in to try to stabilize the situation.

The American team travelled in secret from Iraq to the Kurd region in northern Syria following the several days of riots which came on the heels of a violent soccer game between a Kurdish-backed and a mostly Arab-backed team, Kurdish sources and Syrian exiles in Europe told Haaretz on Monday.

The information was also published on Kurdish websites in Europe.

The U.S. team, which includes intelligence officers, contacted senior officers in a Syrian delegation sent to the region by President Bashar Assad to negotiate with local leaders.

According to the sources, two U.S. helicopters arrived Sunday from Iraq to the city of Qamishli on the Turkish border, where the riots began.

The sources believe that the American delegation has warned the Syrian government that if the riots continue, the situation could get out of control and the Syrians will find it difficult to restrain the Kurdish militias in northern Iraq, who want to come to the aid of the Kurds in Syria.

According to Kurdish sources, isolated exchanges of gunfire continued overnight Sunday in several towns, but in general, the violence was diminishing. The sources claim that demonstrations continued in the city of Haleb and that 19 Kurds were killed during the exchanges of fire in the northern town of Hassake.

The sources said that Syrian security services were conducting mass arrests, claiming that some 2000 people have been detained in Damascus and Aleppo.

Kurdish sources said that in Damascus, almost every male Kurd over the age of 16 has been detained.

The legal advisor of the Paris-based National Council for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Syria, George Sara, Sara claimed he could not determine the exact number of people killed during the riots, but that his organization estimated the number to be between 60 and 100. He expressed disappointment with the lack of coverage of the riots in the western media, but asserted that Kurdish media in Turkey began showing interest on Sunday.

Kurdish sources in Europe claim that in the city of Qamishli on the Turkish border, where the riots began, authorities are stipulating the release of 25 bodies from a hospital with the families conducting quiet funerals that will not again turn into political rallies.

Kurdish activists take over Syrian consulate Some 60 Kurdish activists took over the Syrian consulate in Geneva on Monday, in what they said was an attempt to raise public awareness in the world to "the massacre of Kurdish civilians being carried out by Syrian army and police forces."

The Kurds agreed to leave the consulate after a few hours, with the intervention of Swiss police and a promise that a letter concerning their matter would be sent to the United Nations.



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid Is the Most Israeli of All

An El Al jet sits on the tarmac at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Thursday, in 2003.

El Al to Stop Flying to Toronto, Warsaw and Brussels

An anti-abortion protester holds a cross in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Roe v. Wade: The Supreme Court Leaves a Barely United States

A young Zeschke during down time, while serving with the Wehrmacht in Scandinavia.

How a Spanish Beach Town Became a Haven for Nazis

Ayelet Shaked.

What's Ayelet Shaked's Next Move?

A Palestinian flag is taken down from a building by Israeli authorities after being put up by an advocacy group that promotes coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis, in Ramat Gan, Israel earlier this month

Israel-Palestine Confederation: A Response to Eric Yoffie