Syriac Commander: We are marching towards Raqqa; the heart of ISIS
Syriac Military Council Commander Kino Gabriel stated that the operation to liberate Raqqa would determine the fate of the war in Syria.
Syriac Military Council Commander Kino Gabriel stated that Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, Circassians and Syriacs are fighting side by side and will continue to protect their lands. Gabriel said that they are obliged by their faith to save Syria from the swamp it has sunk in and give life to the construction of democracy in the country.
Syriac Military Council Commander Kino Gabriel spoke to ANF on the establishment of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the second phase of the operation to liberate Raqqa.
It has been one year since the establishment of the SDF. Many important achievements have been made over the past year. How do you evaluate the successes the SDF has gained since its establishment?
Actually, the SDF experience is not a new one. The forces inside the SDF had previously collaborated on many fronts. Sectarian and ethnic conflicts are at the foundation of the crisis in Syria. SDF is undoubtedly the only force representing all Syrian peoples and is the key to the solution of the ongoing crisis.
The main characteristic of the SDF is that it is the first democratic Syrian army that has brought together different ethnic and religious groups for a democratic change in Syria. It is a Syrian national army made up of Syrian peoples. With the successes it has gained, the SDF has made it clear that it is the only force that can resolve the crisis and mayhem in Syria.
When we look at the performance of SDF forces over the past year, we see that there are many successes. What is the secret to these successes?
People rose up in 2011 for equality, freedom and a truly democratic Syria. People had been separated along Shia-Sunni, Muslim-Christian and ethnic lines. People of different ethnic and faith groups always felt like they were the others due to state policies. People were not able to speak their languages or live their faiths fully.
The process that followed 2011 made this situation worse. Many people were massacred and tortured because of their faith. ISIS, al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham, Sultan Murat Brigade, Jaysh al Islam and other gang groups massacred or exiled people simply because they were not Sunni or Arab.
In response, the current Ba’athist regime tortured people simply because they were not Alevi or Arab. In this environment, the SDF was born.
SDF never differentiated people of different faiths or ethnicities, and stood up for all people. With its practice, principles and achievements, SDF has show that it is the only representative of all Syrian peoples. The success of the SDF lies in the trust of Syrian peoples that it has gained in order to respond to the population’s needs and desires.
Could you summarize the process that led SDF forces to the Operation Wrath of Euphrates?
We carried out crucial operations after the establishment of the SDF but our most important move was our establishment. We brought together Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen, Syriac and other peoples under the umbrella of the SDF.
With our establishment, we did the nearly impossible. After this mobilization, we began our military operations. Today, as the SDF enters its second year, we have a history in which we liberated Hawl, Tishreen, Shaddadi, Elin, Cudi and Manbij from ISIS gangs. And now, we are marching towards Raqqa; the heart of ISIS gangs.
How and why did SDF forces launch the Operation Wrath of Euphrates? What is the goal of this operation?
Recently, we had a series of meeting on the military campaigns we will be carrying out. We started preparations for these campaigns. During our establishment, we had announced that we would be fighting for the liberation of Syrian peoples. As part of this dedication, we launched our critical operation to liberate Raqqa on November 5. The only reason for this operation is our desire to respond to the calls of our peoples.
The first phase of the operation to liberate Raqqa ended successfully. During a meeting in Siluk on December 10, World Human Rights Day, we launched the second phase of our Operation Wrath of Euphrates against ISIS gangs that disrespect the values of humanity.
Raqqa is known for its rich culture. We are honored to be participating in an operation that will liberate a city of peoples’ mosaic. We are the children of Syrian peoples and we want to end the cruelty that the people of Raqqa endured first under al Nusra control and then now under ISIS occupation. We would like to give the gift of freedom to the people of Raqqa, who have been massacred, exiled or pillaged by ISIS gang groups.
What are the most recent updates from the second phase of the operation to liberate Raqqa?
The second phase of the Operation Wrath of Euphrates, which our forces launched to liberate Raqqa from ISIS gang groups, continues in western Raqqa. It has been a week since the operation began on December 10, and our forces advancing from the Kadiriyê and Kerduşa villages of Tishreen Dam have inflicted heavy blows against ISIS.
SDF forces advanced 30 kms from Kadiriyê and 37 kms from Kerduşa, and have liberated nearly 40 villages and tens of hamlets and strategic hilltops. International coalition forces have carried out nearly 40 air strikes and at least 54 gangs have been killed, 5 gangs have been captured alive, and large amounts of guns and ammunition have been seized so far.
Which groups are participating in the second phase of the operation?
Nexbe, Teyyar al Xad, Dere Zor Military Council and Thuwar al Raqqa forces recently joined the Shuheda al Raqqa, Thuwar Til Abyad, Liwa al Tahrir, Ketip Shuheda al Fırat, Ketip Shehid al Cimo, and YPG and YPJ forces that have been carrying out the operation under the umbrella of the SDF. 500 young people from Raqqa that received military training in the recently liberated areas are actively participating in the operation in western Raqqa. Members of the Maxmuri tribe, one of the biggest Arab tribes in the country, have also joined the operation. There are many other groups, made up of Arab people from Cizir, Raqqa and Dera Zor, which want to join the operation. More groups will join us as we advance, and our operation will bring us closer to the solution of social and political issues.
What is your message to the peoples of Raqqa and Syria?
Raqqa is a city known for its rich culture, and we are honored to be participating in an operation that will liberate a city of peoples’ mosaic.
We are the children of Syrian people and we want to end the cruelty that the people of Raqqa endured first under al Nusra control and then under ISIS occupation. We would like to give the gift of freedom to the people of Raqqa, who have been massacred, exiled or pillaged by ISIS gang groups.
To all peoples in Syria, I would like to say that Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, Circassians and Syriacs are fighting side by side and will continue to protect their lands. We are obliged by our faith to save Syria from the swamp it has sunk in and give life to the construction of democracy in the country.