The fight for Raqqa, the capital of ISIS in Syria, looks different than that for Mosul. The Syrian Democratic Forces contains a unit called the Syriac Military Council that contains mostly Christians but also Arabs and Kurds. They are fighting block by block to liberate Raqqa a mostly Sunni Arab city. Previously, they had worked together to free Christian and Kurdish villages to show unity. In cities already liberated, Syrians have worked to bring reconciliation between the diverse groups who reside there. Syrians have no illusions, they understand that the geographical defeat of ISIS does not spell the end to their ideology or ability to carry out attacks, nevertheless they fight on to free their home.
08/01/2017 Syria (National Review) – The coalition airstrikes lit up the night sky, perhaps a mile and a half away. The blast appears to be near the old city, where ISIS is making its last stand, as it did in Mosul’s OLD City weeks earlier. “Whatever’s there is important,” says Christian. “And you know they’re not getting it or they wouldn’t bomb the same spot every night.”
Christian is an American and a former Marine, short but strong, tattooed on the arms, neck and head. HEs on the front lines of a war that began when he wasn’t yet a teenager, but for the las ten years he’s been on its front lines. Much of his youth was spent at a reform school for boys in California after he was orphaned in childhood. Since leaving the Marine Corps, he’s served in the French Foreign Legion and most recently with the Syriac Military Council in the fight against ISIS in Northern Syria. “I’m not a soldier of fortune, I’m a soldier of conscience,” he says
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) penetrated the periphery of the Old City just days before. But the front line, at the edge of a no-man’s-land amid the rubble of what were once residential buildings, has moved little in recent weeks. The Syriac Military Council is but a small component of the SDF but it’s an important symbol for the pluralism that the SDF hopes will follow the war against the ISIS caliphate.