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Syria crisis

One killed, several injured in northeast Syria pro-government protest

Published: Updated:

Kurdish security forces opened fire on pro-government protesters in northeast Syria on Sunday, killing one person and wounding several others, a monitor and state media said, as tensions rise between the sides.

Kurdish forces control a large part of the northeast of the war-torn country, but regime forces are also present there including in the main regional cities of Hasakeh and Qamishli.

Damascus and the Kurds have mostly coexisted during nearly a decade of conflict, but tensions have risen in recent weeks with both sides accusing the other of restricting goods movements to areas under their control.

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State news agency SANA published images of dozens of men in civilian clothing protesting in Hasakeh on Sunday against an alleged “siege” by Kurdish forces of a government-held part of the city.

Kurdish security forces shot at the crowd, “killing one civilian and wounding four others,” SANA said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information, put the toll of wounded at three.

“The Asayesh Kurdish police force opened fire, killing one person and wounding three people among the protesters,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said, adding the person killed was a regime policeman.

An Asayesh spokesman declined to respond to an AFP request for comment.

The Observatory says regime forces are limiting access to Kurdish-majority areas under its control in the northern Aleppo province, and imposing hefty fees for supplies going into those areas.

SANA has accused the Kurds of preventing fuel and flour deliveries into Hasakeh, and of surrounding a neighborhood in Qamishli.

A member of the Kurdish internal security services known as Asayish stands guard as Syrian Kurds demonstrate in the northeastern city of Qamishli on January 20, 2021 to protest the Turkish occupation of the Kurdish Syrian city of Afrin, marking three years since Turkey and its Syrian proxies took control of the region in the northern Aleppo province. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)
A member of the Kurdish internal security services known as Asayish stands guard as Syrian Kurds demonstrate in the northeastern city of Qamishli on January 20, 2021 to protest the Turkish occupation of the Kurdish Syrian city of Afrin, marking three years since Turkey and its Syrian proxies took control of the region in the northern Aleppo province. (Delil Souleiman/AFP)

Syria’s Kurdish minority built up their own semi-autonomous authorities in the northeast of the country during the civil war, although some state institutions remain.

The Kurds have been a key partner in the US-backed military campaign against ISIS terrorist group.

But when Turkey launched a cross-border operation against them in late 2019, the Kurds were forced to seek help from Damascus and the latter’s ally Russia to stem the attack, leading to regime and Russian forces deploying in the area.

Moscow has been trying to mediate between Damascus and the Kurds in recent weeks, the Observatory says.

Syria’s war has killed more than 387,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since starting in 2011 with a deadly crackdown on anti-government protests. Fighting quickly mushroomed into a multi-fronted conflict pulling in extremists and foreign powers.

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