Qamishli (Arabic: القامشلي, Kurdish: Qamişlo/قامشلو, Classical Syriac: ܒܝܬ ܙܠܝ̈ܢ, romanized: Bēṯ Zālīn, lit. 'House of Reeds' or Syriac: ܩܡܫܠܐ, romanized: Qamishlo) is a city in northeastern Syria on the border with Turkey, adjoining the Turkish city of Nusaybin, and close to Iraq. According to the 2004 census, Qamishli had a population of 184,231. Qamishli is 680 kilometres (420 mi) northeast of Damascus.
Location of Qamishli in Syria
|Coordinates: 37°03′N 41°13′E|
|Elevation||455 m (1,493 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
|Area code||+963 52|
The city is the administrative capital of the Qamishli District of Al-Hasakah Governorate, and the administrative center of Qamishli Subdistrict consisting of 92 localities with a combined population of 232,095 in 2004. In the course of the Syrian Civil War, Qamishli became the capital of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.
The city was initially a small village inhabited by Assyrians/Syriacs called Syriac: ܒܝܬ ܙܠܝ̈ܢ, romanized: Bēṯ Zālīn meaning House of Reeds. The current name is a Turkified form of it, where "Kamış" means "reed" in Turkish (the Turkish name for the city is Kamışlı).
With a population of 184,231 (2004 Census), Qamishli is among the 10 largest cities in Syria by population.
Qamishli is an ethnically mixed city, inhabited predominantly by Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds and Armenians, with Assyrians and Armenians making up a significant minority. The city is considered to be a Christian center in Syria. It was founded by Assyrian/Syriac refugees fleeing the Assyrian genocide in Anatolia. Today, Kurds, Assyrians, Arabs and Armenians (about 8,500, of whom 2,000 are Armenian Catholics) live in the city.
The pre-war Christian population of Qamishli was about 40,000, of whom 25,000 belonged to the Syriac Orthodox Church, the biggest church in the city. Today it is believed that half of all Christians have left the town.
Qamishli was also home to a significant Jewish community. The origin of the Jews of Qamishli, unlike the Jews of Damascus and Aleppo who are a mixture of Sephardi Jews and Musta'arabi Jews, is the nearby city Nusaybin, in Turkey. In the 1930s the Jewish population of Qamishli numbered 3,000. After the escalation of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in 1947, the situation of the Jews of Qamishli deteriorated. The exodus of Jews from Syria peaked due to violence, such as the 1947 anti-Jewish riots in Aleppo. By 1963, the community had dwindled to 800, and after the Six-Day War it went down further to 150, of whom only few remain today.
The city dates back to the 1920s, when a sizable amount of Assyrians escaping the Assyrian genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire fled from northwestern Iran and southern Turkey built a small town which they initially called Bet-Zalin. One of the most important funders of the early development projects in the city was Masoud Asfar, an Assyrian who survived the Massacres of Diyarbakır (1895) as a young child. Masoud, along with stepbrother, whose last name was Najjar, established the Asfar & Najjar Corporation, a company that produced wheat in Qamishli. Throughout the 1920s–1940s, the Asfar & Najjar Corporation funded hospitals, Assyrian schools, and churches throughout the city. However, in the 1960s and until the late 1970s, when Assyrians constituted two-thirds of the city's population, the government of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Syria Region actively confiscated Assyrian farms, lands, and areas, causing an Assyrian exodus. At this same time, many Kurds, fleeing persecution from Iraq and Turkey, moved into the region.
Qamishli, the second largest city in al-Hasakah Governorate, is considered a center for both the Kurdish and the Assyrian ethnic groups in Syria. It is renowned for throwing a large Christmas parade every year in December, as well as celebrating Newroz festival by a large crowd every year in March and Kha b-Nisan or Akitu on the 1st of April each year.
In March 2004, during a chaotic soccer match, a 2004 Qamishli riots began when some people started praising Saddam Hussein, turning the match into political conflict against the Kurds. The riot expanded out of the stadium and weapons were used against people of Kurdish background. In the aftermath, at least 30 Kurds were killed as the Syrian security services took over the city. The event became known the "Qamishli massacre".
In June 2005, thousands of Kurds demonstrated in Qamishli to protest the assassination of Sheikh Khaznawi, a Kurdish cleric in Syria, resulting in the death of one policeman and injury to four Kurds. In March 2008, according to Human Rights Watch, Kurds were also killed when Syrian security forces opened fire on the Kurds when celebrating the spring festival of Newroz and purportedly gathering to revive the 2004 riot in Qamishli. The shooting left three people dead.
With the Syrian Civil War and the Rojava conflict from 2011, the city grew into a major political role, being the de facto capital of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, a self declared autonomous region in northern Syria.
In October 2015, the city's airport, the Qamishli Airport was briefly closed, before reopening again. Syrian airline companies including Cham Wings Airlines, FlyDamas and Syrian Air all provide regular flights into Qamishli from Damascus, Latakia and Beirut. The airport also receives seasonal foreign flights from Germany and Switzerland.
On 27 July 2016, 44 people were killed and many injured after twin blasts attack rocked the city. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Syrian government remains in control of the airport, the border crossing, and various government buildings such as hospitals, many residential neighborhoods, and various mosques and churches. The government also manages the salaries of its employees, the production and the distribution of the harvest in the countryside, and organizes flights into and from the city to other various Syrian cities and Beirut. Most of the city is under the administration of the de facto Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, whereby the city serves as the capital of Jazira Canton as well as the capital of the federation as a whole.
While the situation has proved stable over the years, there have been occasional instances of armed conflict between Pro Government forces and Sootoro against the Asayish, the most notable being the April 2016 Qamishli clashes, which lasted for 2 days before ending in a ceasefire and the recapture of the city's central prison by the Kurdish forces.
Also, many bombings have occurred in the city throughout the war, with ISIL claiming responsibility for many of the attacks, most notably on July 2016 where a double blast killed over 40 people and injured more. Qamishli is home to Chirkin prison, which houses detained Islamic State militants.
The Köppen climate classification subtype for this climate is "Csa" (Mediterranean climate; dry-summer subtropical climate). The summers tend to be dry and warm, with July being the hottest month of the year, while the winters are usually cold and wet, with January being the coldest month with also an average of 11 days of rain. In total, around 53 days of rain occur every year.
|Climate data for Qamishli (1961–1990, extremes 1952–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||23.6
|Average high °C (°F)||10.6
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.1
|Average low °C (°F)||2.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−11.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||78.3
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||8.6||7.9||8.3||8.0||3.6||0.6||0.0||0.0||0.1||3.2||4.9||7.9||53.1|
|Average relative humidity (%)||71||68||64||60||47||29||24||24||27||39||57||70||48|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||148.8||154.0||204.6||222.0||288.3||339.0||356.5||350.3||312.0||254.2||192.0||148.8||2,970.5|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||4.8||5.5||6.6||7.4||9.3||11.3||11.5||11.3||10.4||8.2||6.4||4.8||8.1|
|Source #1: NOAA|
|Source #2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (humidity, 1974–1978), Meteo Climat (record highs and lows)|
Qamishli Airport was closed to civilians in October 2015, but later reopened. Syrian flight companies including Cham Wings Airlines, FlyDamas and Syrian Air provide flights into Qamishli from Damascus, Latakia and Beirut.
The Al-Hasakah Governorate is not only Syria's most famed grain-producing governorate, but also the source of nearly half of Syria's extracted oil. In December 2017, in preparation for the winter grain season, the government signed deals with the farming corporation in al-Hasakah and many local farmers to receive the wheat and barley planted across 58,000 acres in al-Hasakah, and to plant more in preparation for next year.
Media and education
The Kurdish-language newspaper Nu Dem has its headquarters in Qamishli.
While prior to the Rojava conflict, there had been no institution of higher education in northeastern Syria, in September 2014 the Mesopotamian Social Sciences Academy started teaching. Following the University of Afrin, the Jazira Canton's Board of Education in July 2016 officially established the second Syrian Kurdish university in Qamishli. The University of Rojava initially comprised four faculties for Medicine, Engineering, Sciences, and Arts and Humanities. Programs taught include health, oil, computer and agricultural engineering; physics, chemistry, history, psychology, geography, mathematics, primary school teaching, and Kurdish literature.
- See also the article Terms for Syriac Christians
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- (in Armenian) Ծննդավայրս՝ Գամիշլի կամ Եղէգնուտ
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Qamishli.|
- "From Qamishli to Qamishlo: A Trip to Rojava’s New Capital ", Fabrice Balanche, The Washington Institute, 13 April 2017
- "Amnesty Raises Kurd Issue", on Kurds in Qamishli, 2005