Summary Press Conference, Press Club Brussels, 3rd March 2015

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Overview war against ISIS in Al-­?Hassaka region (Jazeera / Gozarto Canton, North-­?East Syria)
The Jazeera / Gozarto Canton is (roughly) the same area as the Al-Hassaka governorate, which is in the
utter North-East of Syria. This canton is the largest of the three cantons of the Democratic Self-
Administration areas in Syria. These three cantons share their common Social Contract, expressing their
goal for a democratic and multi-ethnic and multi-religious Syria. Recent years have proved that these are
not hollow words but a reality that is hold firm against all onslaught from both ISIS and the Syrian regime.
Kurds, Syriac-Assyrians, Arabs and Yazidi’s as well as others live and stand together through this
incredible difficult time. The Democratic Self-Administration based on these principles and putting it in
practice is unique in the Middle East.
The Syriac Military Council (SMC/MFS) is the self-defence force in this region of the Syriac-Assyrian
people, who are predominant Christian. It operates under the political and social framework of the
mentioned Social Contract. Its allies are the YPG/YPJ and the YBS (Yezidi’s) as well as Peshmerga in the
war against ISIS.
After the joint military operation of YPG/YPJ and SMC/MFS on 22nd February against ISIS in Tal Hamis
frontline (East of Al-Hassaka city – see attached map) 22 villages have been liberated from control of ISIS.
This military operation proved very successful and is still ongoing with major breakthroughs. So far Tel
Hamis and Tel Brak have been liberated (1st March) as well as the villages around these places.
However in the Khabour region along the Khabour river (North-West of Hassaka city), ISIS attacked on
23rd February several villages and after days of fierce battle they managed to keep control of several
villages on the south side of the Khabour river. Then ISIS took several hundreds of Syriac-Assyrian
villagers. Both the ISIS offensive and the capturing of these people was possible as Turkey had opened the
floodgates in the dams that control the waterlevel of this river. The unusual high waterlevel prevented
supporting reinforcements to reach these villages in time and prevented villagers from escaping ISIS.
Already at 23rd February the Democratic Self-Administration allied forces prevented further gains by ISIS
and ISIS lost many of its gang members. SMC/MFS lost 13 fighters and around 25 YPG fighters were
killed. The preparations for liberation of the places taken by ISIS are underway and we need international
support to defeat ISIS in that specific area and defend the Syriac-Assyrian villages.
The fate of the Syriac-Assyrian captives
Hundreds have been taken by ISIS. 23 have been released last week and have found refuge in Hassaka city.
Over the remaining people in hands of ISIS and local Arab tribes we try to negotiate a prisoners swap as
the Democratic Self-Administration forces have taken more ISIS prisoners than the number of Syriac-
Assyrian civilians that ISIS took captive.
The case for international support for the Democratic Self-Administration
We welcome the international air support by the US and other allied forces in the battle of Kobani and Al-
Hassaka region. We note furthermore the following.
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1. President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Mr. Barzani rightly stated in the 51st Munich
Conference that it is insufficient to defeat ISIS in Iraq. It has to be defeated in Syria as well. The
Western powers are (for good reasons) very reluctant to put their ground forces in Syria and rightly
refuse to choose Assad as ally against ISIS. The logical conclusion is that the Alliance against ISIS
supports those forces in Syria that stand for freedom and democracy and lead the fight against ISIS.
The Democratic Self-Administration fits in this category.
2. The Democratic Self-Administration represents not just a program or political movement but the
people who live in the Democratic Self-Administration Cantons. The goal of the Democratic Self-
Administration is to have a secular state that offers fundamental rights and freedoms to its peoples.
This includes democratic rights and freedom of religion.
3. Its geographical positioning in Syria makes the Democratic Self-Administration the most obvious
partner in defeating ISIS in Syria. Almost all ISIS forces in Syria are concentrated on the East side
of the Euphrat river. The Democratic Self-Administration is the only force against ISIS on the
ground on the East side of the Euphrat river in Syria.
4. The new peace talks between the PKK and the Turkish government create an opening for the
international community and allied forces towards co-operation with the Democratic Self-
5. There is no Syrian state that protects our peoples. We ask therefore the international community to
step in and support our rightful self-defence.
6. As Syriac-Assyrian Christians we have taken up our self-defence, as we will not idly stand by and
let others (like the Kurds) fight and die for us.
7. Recognition of the Democratic Self-Administration as partner to the allied forces, EU and EU
Member States and international community for military and humanitarian aid is not only crucial
for the survival of the many refugees in our areas but also for the victory of humanitarian values
over the Barbary of ISIS.
In this light our immediate needs are:
• Lifting embargo on the Jazeera / Gozarto canton.
• Official recognition of the cantons Jazeera, Afrin and Kobane, which had been put in place with the
will of people.
• Official visit to the Jazeera / Gozarto cantons from European Union (there is a safe area around
• Military support to Syriac Military Council, Sutoro and Nineveh Plain Forces. Immediate air drop
of ammunition in the Khabour region.
• Political support to the organisations of Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people.
• The support from the EU for the minorities in Iraq to become their partner in negotiations with the
Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government and Iraqi Central Government in achieving a reasonable and
needed degree of self-defence and self-government as expressed in the Common Declaration which
has been presented in the European Parliament at 19 November.
In all of this the survival of the mosaic reality and many peoples of the Middle East is at stake.
European Syriac Union | &; 3rd March 2015

Rima Tüzün ESU – Head of Foreign Affairs