Four killed by Turkish-backed militants while celebrating Nowruz in north Syria
Four civilians from the same family celebrating Nowruz, the Persian and Kurdish new year, were killed by Turkish-backed militants in northern Syria on Monday, prompting outrage among the Kurdish community worldwide.
Nowruz – meaning "new day" – is a 13-day celebration of the new year, which in Iraq and Syria includes lighting and carrying torches.
The four were shot in the city of Jinderis by members of the Sharqiya militia, part of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA), after an argument as the family began their Nowruz celebrations.
"They were lighting fires on their roof for Nowruz when members of the Sharqiya army came," Ibrahim Sheikho, the director of the Afrin Center for Human Rights, told The New Arab.
Two others from the same family were wounded in the shooting and were taken to the Afrin military hospital, the Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi reported.
High-ranking members of the Syrian Interim Government, which governs the area, attended the funerals for the victims and said that the perpetrators would be held responsible.
The head of foreign relations for Iraqi Kurdistan, Safeen Dizayee, issued a statement in which he "strongly condemned" the murder of the four civilians.
Demonstrators hoisted the Kurdistan flag on Tuesday and called for the gunmen responsible for the killing of the young men to be held accountable.
"We don't want funerals, we want the rights of the [murdered] young men. We want our rights," one woman said at a protest in Jinderis.
The leader of the Sharqiya militia denied that his militia had anything to do with the killings and said that he "condemned this cowardly act" and called for justice.
Afrin and Jinderis have been controlled by the SNA since Turkey launched an offensive in the area and drove out the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in 2018.
The SNA is a loose patchwork of affiliated militias, several of which have been accused of human rights violations, including kidnappings, looting and extortion.
Amnesty International in 2018 documented a "wide range of violations, mostly at the hands of Syrian armed groups that have been equipped and armed by Turkey."