Syrian Kurds, Arab Rebels and Assyrians Form New Alliance

A U.S.-backed Syrian-Kurdish militia, a number of Arab rebel groups and an Assyrian Christian group in Syria have formed a coalition to build a democratic representation for a number of moderate parties within Syria, according to a statement seen by Reuters on Monday.

The new alliance, which is calling itself the Democratic Forces of Syria, includes the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) that beat back the Islamic State (ISIS) with the support of U.S. airstrikes in the Syrian-Kurdish border town of Kobani earlier this year. The YPG continues to battle the radical Islamist group in areas of northeastern Syria and the formation of this coalition may act as a step towards an offensive against the group.

The group also includes Syrian rebel groups such as Jaysh al-Thuwwar (Army of Rebels)—a coalition of seven groups of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army that is fighting both ISIS and the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—as well as three other rebel factions. These Arab groups fall under the umbrella of the Syrian Arab Coalition. Christian Assyrian group named the Syriac Military Council (MFS) that is fighting ISIS in northern Syria has also joined the new alliance.

"The sensitive stage our country Syria is going through and rapid developments on the military and political front...require that there be a united national military force for all Syrians, joining Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs and other groups," the statement read.

The move may bolster the strength of these moderate parties in their fight to prevent radical groups such as ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front gaining territory in northern Syria and uniting their voices has already resulted in additional U.S. support. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to CNN, revealed that the U.S. provided an airdrop of 50 tonnes of ammunition to the coalition early Monday.

Nuri Kino, the founder and president of A Demand For Action, a group that advocates for the protection of ethno-religious minorities in the Middle East, confirmed the existence of the alliance in an email to Newsweek Monday, but added that it was unclear what impact the group would have in the country's ongoing civil war, which has seen 240,000 people killed, 7.6 million displaced within Syria and four million refugees flee the country.

"Syria is a mess, it's impossible to predict anything about the future of the country," Kino says. The country's "Assyrians/Syriacs/Chaldeans are desperate," Kino says, referring to the ethnic minority group that forms the MFS and face persecution at the hands of ISIS. "Our people are searching different solutions to save themselves."

"We can confirm that MFS has done an agreement," he adds.

The new alliance is likely to unsettle the Turkish government, which has been wary of Kurdish advances in northern Syria near the Turkish border. In July, Turkish tanks allegedly shelled Kurdish-held villages in the Syrian province of Aleppo, the YPG and the U.K.-based monitoring group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, as well as ISIS-held positions. Ankara denied the claims that it had targeted Kurdish territory.

Ankara accuses the Kurdish YPG of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that is outlawed in Turkey and which has conducted a number of deadly attacks against Turkish authorities in recent months.

Earlier this year, Kurdish militiamen captured a number of key towns near ISIS's de-facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. In a notable victory for the Kurdish fighters, they seized the town of Tal Abyad in June and regained full control in July after an ISIS assault.

Correction: This article previously stated that Assyrians, Syriacs and Chaldeans are separate ethnic groups. It has been amended to reflect that they are one ethnic group.