Qamishli's children defy IS in New Year celebrations
Qamishli, Syrian Kurdistan (K24) - Assyrian and Kurdish children in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli (Qamishlo) danced and sang along with several Santa Clauses during a New Year's celebration at a cultural centre in the self-declared Jazeera Canton of Syrian Kurdistan on Wednesday.
Hundreds of children attended a party held by the local Union of Assyrian Women, defying threats by the Islamic State (IS) that often uses car bombs to attack population centres it does not control.
Indeed, a series of attacks the day after in a Syrian government-held district of the city killed at least 17 and injured dozens more. In another incident in mid-December, IS attacks cost dozens of lives in Tel Tamer, southwest of Qamishli.
The deputy head of the union, Nezira Gewriye told K24 that her team organised the event so that children could get away from the atmosphere of the ongoing civil war in the country.
"We are telling everyone that we will remain here, our kids will play, and we are going to have celebrations for many other festivals," said Gewriye, adding that she hoped the new year brings an end to the five-year-long Syrian civil war.
The children, some of whom wore Santa Claus outfits, made human trains and also danced govend, a traditional hand-holding dance to American pop as well as Kurdish, Syriac, and Arabic songs.
One of the organisers of the event, a member of the Christian Cultural Centre in Qamishli, Joumana Gebro said, "I do not want to see kids thinking that they lack a lot of things. We can, at least, give them [some] fun." Gebro added that she wished all Syria was able to celebrate the new year in a similar fashion.
Toward the end of the event, the Santa Clauses gave out gifts of various kinds to children as the reggae song “Coco Jamboo” by Mr. President, a German band of the 1990s played on.
(Dilovan Cheto and Heybar Othman contributed to this report from Qamishli)