While the battle for Raqqa is raging on, Syriac Christians are among those on the frontline. They say they are fighting to liberate all Syrians but also “because Islamic State militants destroyed churches and forced Christians to convert to Islam”, reports Al-Monitor.
Abboud Seryan and his colleague Aleksan Chmou are both members of the Syriac Military Council (SMC), an organisation formed in 2013 to protect the Syriac Christian community, thousands of whom once lived in Raqqa.
Together with their Armenian, Kurdish and Sunni-Arab neighbours, they had to flee when Islamic State took over the city in 2014 and it became the extremists’ base in northern Syria.
It is exactly three years ago that IS declared the establishment of a “caliphate” – a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, or Sharia, including the areas that were then under its control in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
The SMC, with other factions, have now joined the Syrian Defence Force and, backed by the US-led coalition, they are driving IS militants out of their city.
Chmou says that he is driven to fight by IS’ atrocities against Syria’s minorities: “I’m sacrificing for what they did to our people, our sects, for the churches they blew up. For all these things”.