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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Syrian Kurds clash with police
Burnt out car in Kurdish Syrian town
Riots broke out in Kurdish areas of Syria last year
Violent clashes between Syrian Kurds and police have erupted in the northern town of Ein al-Arab, according to a human rights organisation.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in Syria said rioting broke out after Kurds were prevented from showing their support for a banned separatist group.

Cars were damaged and stones thrown at police who responded by firing tear gas and making a number of arrests.

The Kurds are supporters of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

A statement from the rights group condemned the violence of both sides, stressed the importance of national unity and urged self-restraint.

There was no response from the Syrian government, which rarely comments on security issues.


There are more than 1.5 million Kurds in Syria, who often complain of harassment by the security services.

In June, a popular Kurdish cleric was found dead in eastern Syria. Many Kurds blamed the government for his death.

Last year, five days of riots in Kurdish areas left 25 people dead and hundreds injured. They were sparked by a brawl at a football match in the northern town of Qameshli between rival Arab and Kurdish fans.

For 15 years, the PKK fought the Turkish state in a conflict which 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.

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