On October 10th 2015, a coalition of different combat units in Northern Syria the so-called “SDF – Syrian Democratic Forces“ was established.
It set for itself the main aim to fight the Islamic State and is composed currently of the following combat units:
1. The Kurdish YPG and the female counterpart YPJ
2. The Christian MFS – Syriac Military Council (proper name – Suryoye or also called Assyrians, Aramean, Chaldeans)
3. Several Sunni-Arab tribes such as the Sanadid – Shamar – Tribe.
4. Parts of the “FSA – Free Syrian Army” – as follows
a) Al Raqqa Revolutionaries / Thwar Al – Raqqa
b) Shams Al Shamal – Northern Son
c) Gurfet Amadiat Burka Alfurat
d) Iiwaa Al Tahrir / Al Tahrir Brigade
According to the press officer of SDF Colonel Ali Tala Selo, being of Turkmen descent and also a member of the Free Syrian Army, further groups of the rebel army are going to join the newly founded organization in time. I had the opportunity to hold several talks with Colonel Tala on 22.12.2015 near Kobane, before he announced the march towards Raqqa, after he had given an attention grabbing media conference at which I was the only Western journalist.
Management structure of SDF
The Command Council of SDF consists of 42 persons who proportionally represent different fractions. This Command Council in turn advises the Leadership Council which makes the proper decisions. The Leadership Council consists of nine persons who also represent the individual groups. This is to ensure that everyone receives appropriate representation according to its force levels.
South of Kobane a large media conference took place at which all players were gathered. A constellation that wouldn´t have been expected by some people in the West. Kurds, Turkmen, Suryoye (Christians), and Arabs announced that they would begin to take back Raqqa now. Supported by air strikes from the West and an observation mission by Germany (Tornado reconnaissance aircrafts), IS could be pushed back further. It could be heard consistently through numerous discussions with representatives of SDF, that it is only a matter of time until IS will be defeated in Syria.
The fighting morale of the terrorist organization is not nearly as strong as it likes to pretend. Syrian captives would surrender immediately. Foreign fighters prefer to die. No matter what kind of combat operations the self-proclaimed holy warriors evince, the end of their days seems to be sealed. A clear sign therefore is that many Sunni – Arab tribes in Raqqa oppose IS publicly, even confronting the danger that their families may have to pay the ultimate price.
Personally I was able to talk to several members of tribes. But just under the condition that I don´t take pictures.
Two days later it was reported that some more strategic towns near Raqqa had been taken. It was not the aim to attack the capital of IS directly. The tactic of surrounding and the cutting off the supply routes has been the clear priority.
Reactions of the IS
Back in the relatively safe city of Qamishli in the north of the country, security forces discussed restricting Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve. It was assumed in general that IS, due to massive pressure, would mount attacks in the secure centers. I had already heard of something like this taking place in Iraqi Kirkuk, when I was at the front. It is in the nature of extremists to upset civilians in major cities for the reason of deterrence, if the pressure on them increases.
Only a few days after my departure, the feared assaults happened during the New Year celebrations in Qamishli. It was first suggested that this would take place in the southern city of Hassake as the region is still infiltrated by IS supporters. To that effect it was a surprise that the attack took place in a quite safe city.
Consequences for Europe
IS now behaves like a wild animal which is pushed back, said the Colonel. And the more it is trapped the more it will try to carry out attacks on Western cities. Precisely for these reasons IS should be brought to an end as quickly as possible. Incidentally not only IS but also “Al Nusra Front”, whose ideology is in no way more moderate than that of the IS, according to experienced Turkmen fighters. Rather both groups form a unit. While “Al Nusra” pretends to be a moderate version of IS, it could well take a more violent way. “Al Nusra” virtually is “IS light”.
Both organizations are extremely dangerous and negotiations with them are out of the question.
What comes next?
It can be seen congruently that there is neither a future with the extremists nor with the regime in its current form. The administrative structure has to be retained beyond a transitional period away from the Assad regime. The mistake made by the Americans in 2003 in Iraq, namely the dissolution of state structures, must not be repeated in Syria in any case.
Afterwards, a third goal has to be realized: the establishment of a democratic structure which assures all people and religions receive equal rights irrespective of their cultural background. If all citizens feel as though they have the same rights and are able to live peacefully, this war will come to an end.
This perhaps, could one day even serve as an example for other states in the Middle East.
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