Christians in Syria have welcomed the statement by US General John Allen, the special coordinator of the International Coalition against ISIS, in which he recognised the need for all peoples in Syria to have some degree of autonomy when they are freed from tyranny. The Syriac-Assyrians made their comments in a press release in which they also welcomed the continuing efforts of the coalition against ISIS. “This demonstrates,” they said, “that the war against the militant group is a war to defend the whole of humanity.”
There is a growing understanding that the peoples of Syria should be able to defend themselves against ISIS and be free to determine their own future, noted spokesperson Rima Tüzün. “In reality,” she said, “our peoples have been denied self-determination and administration. Although we welcome the continuing and intense air support, we believe that we can only build a safe future and self-administration regions if we receive substantial military support of training and equipment in order to defend ourselves against ISIS on the ground.” The same is true for the Kurds, Arabs and other neighbours of the Syriacs, she insisted.
The need for such support is even more important, Tüzün pointed out, following the recent revelations that ISIS has used chemical weapons. “We beg the world not to stand idly by but to give us the means to survive,” said the Head of Foreign Affairs of the European Syriac Union. “We do not ask for international troops on the ground but for support on the ground for our own self-defence and self-administration and those of our neighbours.”
The Syriac-Assyrian people are also asking for international recognition of the Democratic Self-Administration, which they have created together with the Kurds, Arabs and other groups in the region. “Given that our self-administration is clearly welcomed we assume that in this framework we are free as a people to decide to govern ourselves together with our neighbours,” said Tüzün. “This is a simple necessity, given that the districts and villages where all our peoples live are adjacent and mixed in a demographic mosaic.” It is only by managing our areas together that they can secure all civil and basic services like power, water and hospitals, she explained. “As your allies in Syria, we urge the International Coalition against ISIS, and specifically the US, Canada and all EU member states, to increase support for our common self-defence and self-administration as the answer against ISIS and as the future of Syria.”