Syriac: ܒܝܬ ܙܠܝ̈ܢ, translit. Bēṯ Zālīn
Kurdish: Qamişlo

Location of Al-Qamishli in Syria

Coordinates: 37°03′N 41°13′E / 37.05°N 41.22°E / 37.05; 41.22Coordinates: 37°03′N 41°13′E / 37.05°N 41.22°E / 37.05; 41.22
Country  Syria
Governorate al-Hasakah
District al-Qamishli
Subdistrict al-Qamishli
Established 1926 (1926)
Elevation 455 m (1,493 ft)
Population (2004)[1] 184,231
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Area code +963 52
Geocode C4564

Al-Qamishli (Arabic: القامشلي, Syriac: ܒܝܬ ܙܠܝ̈ܢ, translit. Bēṯ Zālīn, lit. 'House of Reeds', Kurdish: Qamişlo), 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, Al-Qamishli had a population of 184,231.[1] Al-Qamishli is 680 kilometres (420 mi) northeast of Damascus.[2]

The city is the administrative capital of the Al-Qamishli District of Al-Hasakah Governorate, and the administrative center of Nahiya al-Qamishli consisting of 92 localities with a combined population of 232,095 in 2004. In the course of the Rojava conflict, al-Qamishli became the de facto capital of the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava.[3][4]


The city was initially a small village inhabited by Assyrians/Syriacs called Syriac: ܒܝܬ ܙܠܝ̈ܢ, translit. Bēṯ Zālīn meaning House of Reeds. The current name is a Turkified form of it, where "Kamış" means "reed" in Turkish. (Turkish: Kamışlı)


The President's street

With a population of 184,231 (2004 Census), Al-Qamishli is among the 10 largest cities in Syria by population.

Al-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. The city was founded by Assyrian/Syriac refugees fleeing the Assyrian genocide in modern Turkey. Today, Kurds, Assyrians, Arabs and Armenians (about 8500, of whom 2000 are Armenian Catholics[5]) live in the city.[6]

The pre-war population of the Christians in al-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.[7]

Al-Qamishli was also home to a significant Jewish community. In the 1930s the Jewish population of al-Qamishli numbered 3,000. Since 1947, the situation of the Jews of al-Qamishli deteriorated. All Jews employed in government offices were sacked at once. Many Jewish women were imprisoned and beaten with the approval of the authorities. Massive 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 Jewish persons, and after the Six-Day War it went down further to 150 of whom only few remain today. Unlike the Syrian Jews of Damascus and Aleppo who are a mixture of Sephardi Jews and Musta'arabi Jews, the Jews of al-Qamishli originate in the ancient Jewish community of Nusaybin, which was also depopulated during the creation of Israel.


Al-Qamishli streets during Christmas days

Al-Qamishli is situated at the base of the Taurus Mountains, located near the area of ancient Hurrian city of Urkesh which was founded during the fourth millennium BC.

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 Al-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 in to the region.[8]

The city itself (not the Assyrian Bet Zalin) was officially founded as Al-Qamishli in 1926 as a railway station on the Taurus railway.[9]

Al-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.

In March 2004, during a chaotic soccer match, a 2004 al-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.[10] The event became known the "al-Qamishli massacre".

In June 2005, thousands of Kurds demonstrated in Al-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.[11][12] In March 2008, according to Human Rights Watch,[13] 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 Al-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.


Current division of the city

The Assad government remains in control of the airport, the border crossing, and some government buildings. They also have control over the Arab and some Christian neighborhoods of the city, but most of the city is under the administration of the de facto Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava,[14] 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 loyalists of the Assad government and Rojava, the most notable being the April 2016 Qamishli clashes.


The Köppen climate classification subtype for this climate is "Csa" (Mediterranean climate; dry-summer subtropical climate).[15]

Climate data for Al-Qamishli
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 10.9
Average low °C (°F) 2.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 77.5
Average precipitation days 11 11 11 10 6 1 0 0 0 4 7 10 71
Source: World Meteorological Organization


Al-Qamishli Granaries

It has an international airport, Al-Qamishli Airport, with International Air Transport Association airport code KAC.

Syrian Railways operated a freight and passenger railway service to other parts of Syria from the city.

Media and education

The Kurdish-language newspaper Nu Dem has its headquarters in Al-Qamishli.[2]

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.[16][17] Following the University of Afrin,[18] the Jazira Canton's Board of Education in July 2016 officially established the second Syrian Kurdish university in Qamishli. The University of Rojava initially comprises 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 and primary school teaching and Kurdish literature.[19][20]

See also


  1. 1 2 "2004 Census Data for Nahiya al-Qamishli" (in Arabic). Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 October 2015. Also available in English: UN OCHA. "2004 Census Data". Humanitarian Data Exchange. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  2. 1 2 Zurutuza, Carlos. "Syria's first Kurdish-language newspaper." (Archive) Al Jazeera. 18 October 2013. Retrieved on 22 October 2013.
  3. "A Dream of Secular Utopia in ISIS' Backyard". New York Times. 2015-11-29. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  4. "Syrian Kurds declare Qamishli as capital for the new federal system". ARA news. 2016-07-05. Retrieved 2016-07-05.
  5. (Armenian) Ծննդավայրս՝ Գամիշլի կամ Եղէգնուտ
  6. "al-Qamishli - Syria". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  7. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH (24 November 2014). "Islamischer Staat: Die Kirche der Jungfrau in Qamischli". FAZ.NET. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  8. Nineveh Magazine, 2014, Bet-Shlimon, Andrew
  9. "Al-Qamishli" - Encyclopædia Britannica, 2006.
  10. James Brandon (February 15, 2007). "The PKK and Syria's Kurds". Washington, DC 20036, United States: Terrorism Monitor, The Jamestown Foundation. p. Volume 5, Issue 3.
  11. Blanford, Nicholas (June 15, 2005). "A murder stirs Kurds in Syria". USA Today.
  12. Fattah, Hassan M. (July 2, 2005). "Kurds, Emboldened by Lebanon, Rise Up in Tense Syria". The New York Times.
  13. "Syria: Investigate Killing of Kurds". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  14. "'We have nothing': Syrian Kurds risk their lives crossing into Turkey". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  15. "Qamishli, Syria Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  16. "A Dream of Secular Utopia in ISIS' Backyard". New York Times. 2015-11-29. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  17. "First New University To Open In Rojava". Rojava Report. 31 August 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  18. Sardar Mlla Drwish (18 May 2016). "Syria's first Kurdish university attracts controversy as well as students". Al Monitor. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  19. "'University of Rojava' to be opened". ANF. 2016-07-04. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  20. "Kurds establish university in Rojava amid Syrian instability". Kurdistan24. 2016-07-07. Retrieved 2016-07-07.

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