Columns


Time to sink divides to fight Isis militants

Militias worry me. No rules, no guidelines, no punishments. The Israelis used an undisciplined mob called South Lebanon Army. The Americans used their infamous Awakening groups to murder Al Qaeda members in Iraq who were themselves killing American soldiers. The Hezbollah is Iran's militia in Lebanon – and now in Syria.

So I was intrigued to visit Syria's National Defence Forces (NDF) in Qamishli, far to the north-east of the country, which includes – like the newly formed anti-Isis Dwekh Nawsha (Self-Sacrifice) group in the Iraqi village of Bakufa – Christians as well as Muslims. Do not have any illusions. This is a government-sponsored organisation whose flag depicts a fist in Syria's national colours. It has around 900 members – and its mission is perfectly clear.

Syria's army cannot control the country. It can recapture territory from Isis or other extremist groups, but it cannot hold all the ground it takes. Hence...

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