Syrian Kurds resume establishment of army for north Syria, graduate 3,500 fighters
HASSAKE, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish-led administration in north Syria on Thursday graduated a new batch of forces to be prepared as an army and border security force.
The force, established in 2014 and known as the self-defense forces, was formed to help the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the all-female brigades of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fight the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
The batch which contained about 3,500 fighters was announced during a military parade with the presence of dozens of media and news agencies in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).
Speaking to Kurdistan 24, Siyamend Welat, the general command of the self-defense forces in north Syria, said their forces would defend the border and cities of the region.
“This force will be a basic element of an army for north Syria,” he said.
“We started with graduating batches of 50 or 100 fighters, and now we are graduating batches containing thousands,” Welat added.
According to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) officials, the elements of these forces have so far reached about 15,000 fighters in north Syria and, in the near future, the number will increase to 35,000 soldiers.
This force contains fighters from all ethnic and religious groups of the region, including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Syriacs, and many others.
Fighters at the graduation ceremony spoke to Kurdistan 24 about their training.
“We have had good training in 45 days on the political and military levels,” Zinar Arafat, a newly graduated fighter, said. “We were trained on light and heavy weapons.”
The YPG and YPJ were the first forces established in Rojava after the breakout of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Then the self-defense units were formed to help the YPG in their fight against IS.
In 2014, the YPG became a US ally in Syria to defeat the militant group, starting from Kobani town on the border with Turkey and recently in Raqqa city which was the de facto capital of IS.
In 2015, the SDF, which the YPG and YPJ are the leading components, was established to contain more ethnic and religious groups from north Syria.
The SDF, backed by the US, is still fighting IS in the rural areas of Deir al-Zor Province in eastern Syria, east of the Euphrates River.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Reporting in Kurdish by Dilovan Chato)