AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – On the highway between Hasakah and Qamishli, Nechirvan Barzan Sabri, 20, was killed; two others were wounded on Saturday.
The Syrian state news agency reported that security forces had killed a terrorist who had fled from a checkpoint near Abu
The pro-Kurdish news agency ANF reported that Sabri, born in Derek, was killed, but his body had not been delivered to his family. Omar Farhan Omar and Barzan Sabri Omar were named as the wounded. According to Syrian activist Hivin Kako, the car was shot at because there were explosives inside. “There is news of one person killed and his dad was injured,” Kako told Rudaw. London-based Kurdish activist Azad Dewani told Rudaw that the incident happened in the region of Qamishli, but he was not sure exactly where the checkpoint was. “According to the statement, they did not stop when they were asked to by security,” Dewani said.
Last week, an IED explosion also rocked the Qamishli neighborhood of al-Bashiri, according to the Syria Observatory for Human Rights. The bomb targeted one of the military security branches in the city; there are unconfirmed reports that two officers in the branch were killed. According to the news website Avesta Arabic, several civilians were wounded, and the area has been closed off by Syrian security forces. The bomb was attached to a three-wheeler.
A unit of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack. “We confirm that the target was an infamous security HQ which is known as [Abu Ali’s platoon]. According to our information, the explosives we placed on a tricycle,” Avesta reported. The attack might be related to new strategies of the FSA. Riad al-Asaad, the head of the FSA, told Rudaw that the FSA has Kurdish contacts and had tried to form a joint military body in Kurdish areas under FSA command.
“We have sent some officers on a special mission in Hasakah and Qamishli in order to form this battalion of the FSA and work together,” Asaad said. On Aug. 12, the FSA announced the formation of a military council in Hasakah in a statement on YouTube. The same day, the Martyrs Battalion of Al-Zahra in Qamishli was formed. FSA member Fahad al-Masri called on Kurds to join the FSA, but so far the group’s units in Hasakah province are mostly Arabs.
This resulted in several clashes with President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces, especially in the mixed town of Hasakah. According to the Facebook page of the Kurdish Youth Coordinators Union, heavy gunfire was heard in Hasakah’s Nasra neighborhood last Friday.
Saturday also saw violence in Qamishli after regime forces targeted demonstrators with gunfire and tear gas in the central mall, and arrested many activists, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC-Syria).
The Kurdish news site Welati reported that a small demonstration greeted the FSA, after being shot by unknown gunmen, possibly members of the feared pro-state Shabiha militia. Welati noted that these events spread fear in the area.
Moreover, Syria’s state-run news agency SANA claimed three terrorists were arrested on the Qamishli-Hasakah highway, and five more in the Abu Rassain area in Qamishli, which may indicate the presence of FSA elements in the city. Fadi Mqayed, a Syrian activist living in Germany, told Rudaw that before the formation of the military council, the Al Jazeera Shield Brigade, which consists of local Arabs from the region, carried out operations in Hasakah province. Al Jazeera is a synonym for Hasakah province.
“But they don’t operate in Qamishli, just in Hasakah,” Mqayed added. According to the Kurdish news website Xabar24, the operations of the FSA in Kurdish areas could lead to tensions between the FSA rebels and militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which opposes the presence of the FSA in Kurdish areas. Kurdish leaders told the BBC that Kurds now control 50 percent of Kurdish areas in Syria. Kawa Rashid, a Kurdish activist and spokesperson of the Movement of Syrian Kurdistan, told Rudaw that Riad al-Asaad does not represent the FSA. “It seems the FSA wants to enter the Kurdish areas to relieve the pressure on other [Arab] cities,” Rashid noted.
“The Arab opposition thinks the Kurds are not active in the revolution. But that is not true, and they have participated from the beginning,” he added.
Rashid emphasizes that Syrian Kurds do not want armed groups in their areas. “We must be careful that certain groups do not bring problems to our region. The regime will not fall in Qamishli or Hasakah; it will fall in Aleppo and Damascus. If they want to fight, they have to fight there. We want to protect our region against the Syrian army, terrorists and criminal groups,” he said. Bekir Mustafa, a member of the Kurdish Youth Movement, told Rudaw that “there are groups who always try to blow up the military security branch in Qamishli.” It seems that most Kurdish political groups oppose the presence of the FSA in Kurdish areas and fear that this will bring chaos to regions that have remained relatively safe. Even Kurdish politician Mustafa Juma, head of the Kurdish Freedom Party (Azadi), said in a statement that he opposes the presence of the FSA in Kurdish areas, although he supports the overthrow of the regime. Despite this, there have been improvements in relations between Kurds and the FSA in Aleppo province. According to the Wall Street Journal, FSA rebel commanders in Aleppo say a flare-up in Kurd relations would play into the regime’s hands.
Dewani told Rudaw that the Syrian Kurds “do not accept Salafi sectarian Islamic propaganda, although we respect the rights of defending civilians who are oppressed by the regime.” He added that the FSA “contacted Arabs in Kurdistan, and a few Kurdish activists. They established a group in Hasakah. Their existence in Kurdistan will not help the revolution. It will create tensions and conflicts between the Kurds and Arabs and they do not accept or recognize Kurdish rights.”