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Pro-Turkey fighters kill 4 Syria Kurds celebrating Nevruz: rights group

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Turkish-backed fighters shot at a family of Kurds celebrating the festival of Nevruz in northern Syria on Monday, killing at least four people, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a rights group.

Several others were wounded in the incident that began when the fighters from the Ahrar al-Sharqiya armed group hurled insults at the young men, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Kurdish men had lit a fire near their home to celebrate Nevruz, a pre-Islamic festival marking the advent of spring and the Kurdish new year.

The fighters then “opened fire on the citizens in cold blood,” killing four people and wounding three others, “all from the same family”, said the Observatory which relies on a wide network of sources in Syria.

The shooting happened at a village near the town of Jindayris, Aleppo province, in an area outside of the Damascus government’s control that was badly hit by last month’s devastating earthquake.

Syria’s rebel-held north and northwest, controlled by jihadists and Turkish-backed fighters, are home to more than four million people, at least half of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country.

Jindayris was seized by Turkey and its Syrian rebel proxies in a 2018 offensive that drove Kurdish forces from the Afrin region.

Many of its Kurdish inhabitants were displaced by the Turkish offensive.

The US Treasury sanctioned Ahrar al-Sharqiya in July 2021.

Fighters from the group had pulled a 35-year-old Syrian Kurdish politician, Hevrin Khalaf, out of her car and shot her dead in a possible war crime, according to the United Nations rights office.

The Treasury Department said the group killed hundreds more since 2018 in a prison it runs near Aleppo and had integrated former members of the Islamic State extremist group.

The brutal repression of 2011 protests in Syria during the Middle East’s Arab Spring uprisings triggered a complex civil war in Syria that drew in foreign powers and extremists.

It has claimed more than 500,000 lives and left millions displaced internally and abroad.

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