Violent clashes between Kurds and police erupted in the north Syrian town of Ein al-Arab Aug. 16, according to the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in Syria (AOHRS). The organization said the violence flared after police halted a march in support of a banned separatist group, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Cars were burned, and stones hurled at police who responded by firing tear gas and making a number of arrests.
The PKK, which is active primarily in Turkey, had been backed by Syria in the 1980s and early ’90s. During this period, the war between the PKK and the Turkish state claimed more than 30,000 lives. In recent years, the Syrian authorities have clamped down on the group as relations with Turkey have improved. It was outlawed in Syria in 1998. (BBC, Aug. 16)
Meanwhile in Iran, Kurdish separatist guerrillas said to be linked to the PKK have released four police officers they were holding as hostages.
Officials did not say how long the men had been held by guerillas from the Pezhak group. One police officer and several Kurds were killed last week in a failed attempt to rescue the men. Authorites say Pezhak is the Iranian wing of the Kurdistan PKK. (Reuters, Aug. 18)