BEIRUT, (Reuters) – Syrian security forces have killed three Kurdish men in north eastern Syria who were celebrating on the eve of the Kurdish new year, a Syrian human rights organisation said on Friday.
“An argument between the revellers and the police in the city of Qamishli developed into a shooting on Thursday evening,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.
Five people were also wounded, the statement said.
Residents of the city, which is near Syria’s border with Turkey and Iraq, gave different accounts of the shooting.
One resident said the youths burned tires and threw stones at the riot police, who are permanently deployed in the city which is home to a large Kurdish population. Another resident said the police fired at the crowd unprovoked.
The funeral of the three men, aged 20 to 25, was being held on Friday under a heavy security presence, witnesses said.
Syria’s estimated 1 million Kurdish minority have longstanding grievances in tightly controlled Syria.
The Baathist government does not allow the Kurdish language to be taught in schools and thousands of Kurds were denied citizenship after a 1960s census.
Security forces killed a Kurdish youth and wounded four people in Qamishli last year while breaking up a protest against Turkish preparations to attack northern Iraq in pursuit of separatist PKK rebels.
Thirty people were killed in riots and demonstrations by Kurds that followed a football match in 2004.