Syria’s Newroz: Tightening Security in Afrin and Fear of Attacks in Qamishli

“Newroz” festivities in north-eastern Syria – March 21 (AFP)

“Newroz” festivities in north-eastern Syria – March 21 (AFP)


Kurdish people in Syria celebrated “Newroz” differently this year, for festivities in Afrin were very much unlike those held in Qamishli, given each of the areas security conditions and expectations, most of which were forged of fear of hostilities and potential attacks on the gathered people, not to mention the security restrictions imposed on certain areas on this day.


Festivities in Qamishli and al-Hasakah

Areas and villages in Qamishli and al-Hasakah, north-eastern Syria, ignited the “Newroz” fire on March 20, in celebration of the Kurdish people’s national holiday, which they share with several other nations in eastern Asia.


Assemblages could be found in several areas, amidst the people’s fear of explosions that might target these gatherings against the background of the battles running in the village of the al-Baghuz, the last enclave of the “Islamic State” (IS).


Zainab, a school teacher in the city of Qamishli, said that the people gathered in an area called Himo in Qamishli and in another called Mazkaftah. The celebrations started at nine on March 21 and ended at four. The people wore the Kurdish traditional outfit, formed the folkloric dance rings, sang and recited poetry.


Akri Shaikho, a university student from the city of al-Hasakah, said that two celebrations brought the al-Hasakah’s people together, one in the village of Jaghrah and another in the village of Tell Afandi. She, however, pointed out that, driven by fear of gathering, some citizens preferred to celebrate at a smaller scale in some areas, including the family only, despite the security procedures undertaken by the “Autonomous Administration”, in preparation for the festivities.


Abbass, a journalist from the area of Al-Qahtaniyah, described the celebrations as “positive and good,” for no incidents of violence or bans on the part of the authorities of the “Autonomous Administration” were recorded. Accordingly, tents were erected, and events organized.


Dloufan, a civil activist, said that the majority of the cities and the towns in north-eastern Syria strove with people celebrating this “national” holiday; in some places, the participation was extensive; in others, the celebrations were limited to family gatherings, given the separate conditions of each area.


Security Restrictions in Afrin

While the “Newroz” celebrations took their natural rhythm in north-eastern Syria, those in Afrin, northern rural Aleppo, suffered a tightening security, where factions of the Syrian opposition spread, similar to what happened in areas such as Kansafra, district of Jindires, and the villages of Maidaniyat, Rajo district, as local sources informed Enab Baladi.


In an interview with Enab Baladi, Immad Othman, a Kurdish media activist, said that this year’s “Newroz” festivities did not include the usual rituals or celebrations that used to be organized prior to the entry of the “Free Army” and the Turkish Army to the area a year ago.


Enab Baladi attempted contacting the local council in Afrin and Jindires to have their comment but did not get a replay to the time this report was published.


According to Osman, an annunciation through the mosques was made as to prevent the people from the farms of Selo, Maabatli district, from gathering for security considerations, pointing out that there were limited festivities in  Rajo, Jindires, Sharran and al-Basoutah, the majority of which were held on houses and buildings’ rooftops.


The activist, in Afrin, added that this year’s celebrations were nothing like the ones before them, where people revived the rituals and celebrated, gathering in specific locations and playing the well-known Kurdish music.


Enab Baladi’s correspondent for Afrin said that major roads were blocked, pointing to the ban on gatherings during the working hours of official departments and schools.


For his turn, Shairo al-Alo, a media activist, said that activists organized a small celebration in the village of al-Basoutah, adding that there were restrictions similar to those during the control of the Syrian regime, where forces spread as to prevent gatherings, as he put it.


The gesture by the Arab activists in the Kurdish areas in Afrin, in the al-Basoutah particularly, is one of the most prominent events in the area, given the fear that reigned the people’s mood due to security restrictions during the days of celebration.

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