Thousands protest after pro-Turkish group kills four Kurds in Jinderis
The four civilians, who had lit a fire to celebrate Nowruz, were shot at by a splinter group supported by Ankara. The incident has increased tensions between factions, in an area long disputed by Kurds, anti-Assad groups, and pro-Turkish militias. For Human Rights Watch, the area has seen “over five years of unaddressed human rights abuses”.
Aleppo (AsiaNews) – Thousands of Syrian Kurds have taken to the streets in the town of Jinderis to protest against the recent killing of four civilians at the hands of a Turkish-backed armed rebel group.
The incident could raise tensions in the area, which has long been targeted by Ankara with threats of ground military operations, thus frustrating tentative attempts at collaboration in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 6 February.
Monday night, 20 March, some Kurdish men lit a fire to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year, but were probably shot by members of Jaish al-Sharqiya, a splinter group once part of Ahrar Sharqiya. The latter fought against the Syrian regime with Turkish support during the country’s civil war.
In order to defuse tensions and avoid an escalation, the Syrian National Army (an alliance of groups linked to Ankara) was quick to condemn the attack and deaths, pledging to bring the culprits to justice.
The attack and subsequent street protests have reignited tensions between the Turkish-backed armed groups that control the area and the mostly Kurdish residents, further fuelling the power struggle among rival armed factions over control of different areas in the north-western Syria.
Once held by Kurds, Jinderis fell to pro-Turkish groups in 2018, displacing many Kurds, while those who remained complain of violence, ill-treatment and discrimination.
Faced with attacks by Jaish al-Sharqiya, local Kurds turned for help to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which deployed some fighters.
For the United States and Western countries, HTS is a terrorist group because of its historical ties to al-Qaeda, but for the local Kurdish population, it is better than Turkish-backed groups, as evinced by a recent meeting between the families of the victims and HTS leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani who pledged revenge.
“These killings come after over five years of unaddressed human rights abuses at the hands of Turkish forces and the local Syrian factions they empower,” said Adam Coogle, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“Turkey,” he added, “has allowed these fighters to abuse people living in the areas under their control with impunity, risking making itself complicit in the violations.”