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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Syria's Christian "Sutoro" fighters (VIDEO)


Syriac Christians are generally considered to fear Islamic rebels and therefore unconditionally back Assad's regime, but this is not the case in the predominantly Kurdish autonomous cantons commonly known as "Rojava", where they have their own armed forces, rule their districts and advocate coexistence as an "alternative" to the civil war. 

"Sutoro" is now the official Syriac Christian security force of the Kurdish-led autonomous cantons in northeast Syria.

It was founded in 2013 as a loose united front to defend the Christian neighbourhoods, but turned official earlier this year on January 22, when Syriac Christians joined the establishment of three predominantly Kurdish autonomous cantons of Cizire, Kobane and Efrin in northeast Syria.
Sutoro initially included Christian locals tied to the Syriac Union Party (SUP), but anybody can join now regardless of political affiliations.

"The Christian autonomist fighters of Sutoro secure the inner city of the cantons"
The Christian autonomist fighters of Sutoro secure the inner city of the cantons while it is the Syriac Military Council (SMC), formerly a paramilitary wing of the SUP, that mainly fights in the frontlines alongside the Kurdish armed forces in the outskirts against regime soldiers and Islamic rebels.

Sutoro secures the supply lines to the frontlines and occasionally join the battles whenever simultaneous offensives by the army and jihadist groups seem on the rise.
The Sutoro central command is now based in the predominantly Kurdish city of Al-Qamishli, considered as part of the Cizre autonomous canton.
It is relatively safe compared to rest of war-torn Syria, but sudden skirmishes in Al-Qamishli city center and constant fighting in the outskirts are all too common these days.

This is because the entire Al-Hasakah province is divided between and controlled by rival armed forces.
The regime's National Defense Force (NDF) controls parts of Al-Hasakah province as well as a couple of Arab neighbourhoods in Al-Qamishli.

Islamic rebels of the Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) control their respective areas in the Al-Hasakah province toward the plains and neighbouring Deir Ezzor province.

Kurds and Christians control the rest of the Al-Hasakah province, including large swathes of the plains as well as the their districts in central and northwest Al-Qamishli.

Prior to the civil war, a car journey from the city of Al-Hasakah to Al-Qamishli took around 1 hour; it now takes several hours, as one has to discretely avoid the always-on-alert checkpoints set up along the way by these territorial armed forces.

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