Internal conflict hit ranks of Assyrian ‘Sutoro’ forces north Syria

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Christian fighters of Sutoro (The Syriac Security Office) carry their weapons as they man a checkpoint in the town of Tel Tamr February 25, 2015. (Reuters)

ARA News

QAMISHLI – Clashes broke out between members of the Assyrian armed forces of Sutoro in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, activists reported on Friday. 

Rifts erupted between two units of the Sutoro forces in Qamishli city over power. The disputes turned violent when a unit responsible for protecting the city of Derik (al-Malikiyah) arrived in Qamishli and opened fire at fellow Sutoro forces there.

At least four members of the Sutoro were injured during the clashes. 

A spokesman for the Assyrian Sutoro forces told ARA News that the rifts have been caused by lack of coordination between the central leadership in Qamishli and the local units in the neighboring areas.

“Members of the Derik unit protested the growing power of Qamishli members of the Sutoro. All decisions are being issued in Qamishli without delegating other local units,” said the source, who preferred to stay anonymous.

Political activist Raman Khallow told ARA News in Qamishli that the unprecedented internal conflict in the ranks of the Assyrian forces “indicates institutional weakness”.

“The decision-making process is monopolized by the Sutoro’s power center in Qamishli, while hundreds of members in other areas are obliged to follow the orders,” he said. 

The Assyrian forces of Sutoro include more than 1000 fighters. The group is responsible for the protection of Christian districts and villages in the Kurdish region northeast Syria.

Since its establishment in 2013, the Sutoro declared its allegiance to the PYD-linked Auto-Administration and is operating in cooperation with the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Reporting by: Jan Nasro

Source: ARA News 

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