Syriac Military Council of North and East Syria facing off against Turkey in Khabur River Valley

TEL TAMR, Syria — During a decade of war, the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) of North and East Syria have fought many battles against various other forces, from the Islamic State (ISIS) to Turkish forces and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA).

The SDF fought against the world’s most violent terrorist organization, ISIS, in a successful partnership with the U.S.-led International Coalition, which includes eight Western countries.

The Turkish occupation of northern Syria, stretching from Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn) to Tal Abyad, displaced tens of thousands of the region’s indigenous peoples and looted their homes and property. With the arrival of Turkish-backed forces to the Khabur River Valley, the site to more than 30 Syriac-Assyrian villages. The Khabur had already been attacked and largely emptied following attacks by ISIS in 2015. Churches and homes were bombed, more than 200 Syriacs–Assyrians were kidnapped.

As a result, the General Command of the Syriac Military Council (Mawtbo Fulḥoyo Suryoyo, MFS), a founding member of the SDF, took responsibility for securing Tel Tamr, the main town in the Khabur, and its surrounding villages. Having pushed ISIS out of the region, MFS now defends the Khabur from Turkey and the Turkish-backed SNA after they invaded in October 2019.

Although Russian soldiers have been spread across the area as guarantors of a cease-fire agreement between them and Turkey over a year and a half ago, Turkish forces and their proxies continue to commit violations: from artillery bombardment and small incursions to cutting off drinking water for Hasakah and its countryside.

Our correspondent Ahmed Samela conducted an interview with the MFS spokesman Aram Hanna about the latest military developments in the Khabur.

“On the initiative of the MFS General Command, at the orders of SDF General Command, the MFS deployed on all lines of contact with the Turkish occupation and its mercenaries, to ensure the safety of our Syriac people and villages in the Khabur and Tel Tamr,” Hanna stated. “On this basis, we have adhered to the Russian–Turkish ceasefire agreement.”

Hanna touched on the joint agreement and their adherence to it, declaring that, “We have not initiated any attack at any time, but we had many Turkish violations in all of our regions.”

“The attacks had little effect,” said Hanna, indicating that the Russian forces have spread throughout the border strip in the Syrian areas, in implementation of the ceasefire agreement.

“We have not seen a significant impact on the military events in the past year and a half,” he added. “The Turkish violations, however, have been continuing in all regions, especially in the areas of Al-Shahba and Mabbug (Manbij).

“We, in turn, respond to all the Turkish violations with what military capabilities we have.”

Hanna concluded, saying, “Today, we in the MFS, are asking the entire international community and the actors involved in Syrian affairs, especially the Russian forces, to maintain the security and safety of the lines of contact and limit the Turkish violations towards our people and villages in the Khabur.”