Al-Qamishli (Arabic: ?, Kurdish: , Syriac: Qamislo or Bet Zalin) also known as Al-Qamishly, Kamishli or Kamishly, is a city in northeastern Syria on the border with Turkey, adjoining the Turkish city of Nusaybin, and close to Iraq. It is part of the Al-Hasakah Governorate, and is the administrative capital of the Al-Qamishli District within the governorate. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Al-Qamishli had a population of 184,231 in the 2004 census. It is the administrative center of a nahiyah ("subdistrict") consisting of 92 localities with a combined population of 232,095 in 2004. Al-Qamishli is 680 kilometres (420 mi) northeast of Damascus.
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 Diyarbakir 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 citys population, the Baath government 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.
The city itself (not the Assyrian Bet Zain) was officially founded as Al-Qamishli in 1926 as a railway station on the Taurus railway.
Al-Qamishli is the second largest town in Al-Hasakah governorate and since 2013 it is regarded as the capital of Syrian Kurdistan, the Assyrians/Syriacs also claim it to be a community capital.
In March 2004, during a chaotic soccer match, a riot started when some people started praising Saddam, 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 as "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. 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 Al-Qamishli. The shooting left three people dead.
The city is renowned for throwing a large Christmas parade every year in December, and celebrating Newroz festival by a large crowd every year in March.