Syrian killed in anti-Kurdish rally

BEIRUT (AP) — One Syrian was killed yesterday and four injured after Kurdish security forces opened fire at pro-government demonstrators in a northeastern city, state media said.

The state news agency SANA said the Kurdish forces opened fire at demonstrators protesting the siege on their neighbourhood in Hassakeh city. The area is known as the security square and is controlled by government forces.

A video of the rally showed dozens of men gathering in a street on a rainy day as fire rang out over their heads. The men began chanting, “With our blood we sacrifice for you Bashar,” in reference to the Syrian President Bashar Assad.

A Kurdish-run news agency, Hawar, said security forces at a checkpoint in the city had come under fire, prompting its members to respond to the source of fire. The clashes led to the death of a government security member, the agency said.

The different accounts could not be immediately reconciled or independently verified in the city where both security forces have presence.

The Kurds, Syria’s largest ethnic minority, have carved out a semi-autonomous enclave in Syria’s north since the start of the civil war in 2011. In the area, they run their own affairs and control most of the country’s oil resources.

In both Hassakeh and Qamishli cities, they share control with government forces — which have presence in security zones, near the airport and in some neighbourhoods.

Tension occasionally erupts between the two sides, but the Kurdish forces have more presence and control there. In recent weeks, Kurdish forces have imposed a siege on government neighbourhoods in Hassakeh and to a lesser degree in Qamishli.

In Hassakeh, the Kurdish forces prevented flour from entering the government-controlled areas, forcing bakeries to shut down in the last week. Fuel and water have also been prevented from passing through checkpoints erected around the neighbourhoods.