The Syriac Military Council, a Christian militia in Syria opposed to the Assad regime, condemned Turkey for bombing its U.S.-backed Kurdish allies who are fighting ISIS. The Christians accused Turkey of continuing the genocidal and anti-democratic campaigns of the Ottoman Empire.
The statement reads in part:
â€œThis attack came at the 102nd commemoration of the Syriac Assyrian, Armenian and Greek genocide â€˜Sayfo,â€™ while Turkey is continuing the same policies against the people living in the Middle East, trying to overthrow the democratic project that our people are working together to reach a political and administrational system based on pluralism, justice, equality and democracy.â€
Turkeyâ€™s airstrikes killed 40 Kurdish fighters in Iraq and 30 in Syria. The Kurds in Syria belonged to the People Defense Units (YPG). The Syriac Military Council (MFS) and its female wing, the Beth Nahrin Women Protection Forces, are allied with the YPG Kurds in a U.S.-backed alliance named the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a multi-ethnic coalition and it is leading the fight against ISIS as it prepares to attack Raqqa. Despite historical ethnic tensions, the Kurdish-led SDF was able to recruit so many Sunni Arabs that a top U.S. commander estimates that 60% of the fighters are Arab and 40% are Kurds.
Earlier this month, the Syriac Military Council published a letter asking for the U.S. to provide more direct military aid as it prepares to participate in the attack on ISISâ€™ capital, Raqqa, alongside its Arab and Kurdish allies. The Council said that the U.S. aid had favored the Arabs and Turkmen.
Turkey considers the YPGâ€”the Kurds in the U.S.-backed SDFâ€”to be part of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which the Turks and the U.S. State Department identify as a Marxist terrorist group. Although there are ideological ties between YPG and PKK, YPG says it is a separate group and the U.S. government agrees.
In Iraq, five members of the Kurdish Peshmerga military force were killed by the Turkish airstrikes in the Sinjar area. The Kurdish Regional Government said that Turkey did it by mistake and blamed the PKK for the deaths by operating in the area.
The Syriac Military Council reiterated that it is â€œstanding next to our brothers-in-arms against this barbaric attack against our forces that had been and still [is] sacrificing their lives to defeat ISIS and liberate Syria from their tyranny.â€ It asks the international community to oppose Turkish â€œaggression.â€
In October, the Syriac Military Council threatened to fight Turkish forces and its Islamist proxies with the Free Syria Army banner when Turkey intervened to stop SDF advances. The Christian militia accused President Erdoganâ€™s regime of having an â€œISIS mentalityâ€ by pursuing an â€œIslamic regimeâ€ and supporting extremists.
The U.S. attitude towards Turkey is long overdue for a reversal. We must face the reality that Turkey is now in the Islamist camp and we are in an undeclared proxy war with Erdogan. One of the first things the U.S. should do is grant the Syriac Military Councilâ€™s request that the U.S. stand firmly against Erdoganâ€™s neo-Ottoman jihad and adequately support the Christians and Kurds in the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.orgâ€™s national security analyst and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. To invite Ryan to speak please contact us.