Kurdish security forces recently opened two five-lane checkpoints spanning the entire width of the eastern and western roads into Qamishli, a city near the Syrian border with Turkey in northern Al-Hasakah province.
Qamishli is the de facto capital of the Kurdish-controlled territories in northern Syria known as Rojava, or western Kurdistan.
Equipped with explosives-detecting equipment and daytime and nighttime cameras, the checkpoints, more like security posts, represent the latest effort to protect a city where several bombings, most claimed by the Islamic State, have killed and injured dozens of civilians in recent months.
The PYD-led Self Administration rules most of Qamishli, while Syrian regime forces and their allies control a number of neighborhoods and an airport immediately south. Occasional tensions notwithstanding, the two forces do not actively contest each other.
The latest bombing, targeting a Christian-majority neighborhood, came one day after the new security measures were implemented to “fortify and secure Qamishli against terrorist organizations,” Aras Mistou, a spokesman from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD)-led Self Administration tells Syria Direct’s Mohammad Abdulssattar Ibrahim.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Q: Where are the new gates located and what is their significance?
One is at the western entrance to Qamishli, on the road coming from Amouda. The other is on the eastern side, on the road coming from areas along the Turkish border.
[Ed.: Three main roads lead into Qamishli from the east, west and south.]
There are five lanes for the inspection of cars and trucks and to check ID cards. The crossing is for security first and foremost, and is equipped with surveillance cameras and modern devices to detect explosives, IEDs and car bombs.
The importance of the gates is to fortify and secure Qamishli against terrorist organizations.
Q: Why haven’t similar measures been taken at the southern entrance, given that there are areas to the south controlled by the Islamic State?
There are already regime roadblocks on the Al-Hasakah-Qamishli road, since the regime controls the Qamishli airport. There are also Asayish checkpoints, and nobody is allowed to pass without being inspected by them, even if they were already checked by the regime.
Q: Is there any difference in how those coming to Qamishli from non-Kurdish territories will be dealt with?
Kurds, Arabs and Christians all participate in the Self-Administration’s institutions and legislative council. Those coming from other areas have their identity checked like any other citizen to ensure that they are not suspicious, then enter the city and move about freely.