Issa Hisso, a leading figure in the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) was killed by a bomb planted under his car, outside his home in the city.
The murder happened a few days after a meeting between Kurdish officials, including Hisso and the leader of PYD, Saleh Msallam, and a number of Turkish officials in Istanbul to discuss relations between the Kurds and the Turkey.
Msallam said a war was being waged against the Kurds who are exercising the legitimate right to self-defense. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We were part of the revolution and still are, and we know we are specifically targeted because of our Kurdish identity. The evidence to support that lies in the attacks against us, the latest of which was the assassination of Issa Hisso.”
He added: “The large number of enemies the Kurdish people have means it is too early to blame a specific party. We have our suspicions but prefer to wait until we have the proof.”
Msallam said the meeting with the Turkish government was instigated by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and that the meeting was positive. He added that the meeting represented a new stage in the relations between the two sides, and that the Kurds received promises of emergency aid from Turkey.
Meanwhile, a member of the Syrian opposition told Asharq Al-Awsat anonymously that the Kurdish-Turkish meeting involved Turkish intelligence officers, not foreign ministry officials.
The PYD issued a statement in which it condemned the assassination of Hisso. The statement said: “Hisso was arrested by the regime’s intelligence a number of times and was jailed for long periods, and he was a member of the Syrian revolution’s fight for liberty, justice and democracy.”
In another development, the leader of the main Kurdish party in Turkey has welcomed the meetings between the Turkish government and the Syrian Kurds, saying they may intensify pressure on President Bashar Al-Assad and help change the course of the Syrian civil war,
Selahattin Demirtaş, head of the parliamentary group of the Turkish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), told Reuters that Msallam Saleh’s visit to Istanbul was a clear indication that Turkey was trying to move away from the idea that the Kurds were a threat.
He said “this will not only affect Turkish-Kurdish relations, but also the course of events in Syria by putting pressure on the regime.” He added: “The Kurds can be active in Syria and we need to increase the support for them, and Western nations, including the USA, must establish similar relations with the Syrian Kurds.”
Meanwhile, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Rami Abdelrahman, told the French news agency (AFP) that “it is not clear whether the perpetrators of Issa Hisso’s murder are from the regime’s forces or Islamists, or if they were members of foreign intelligence.”