Self-Defense Forces (DFNS regions)
قوات الحماية الذاتية|
ܓܘܫܡܐ ܕܣܘܝܥܐ ܘܣܘܬܪܐ ܝܬܝܐ
HXP militiamen with the organization's flag in the background.
|Active||11 October 2014 - present|
|Allegiance||Rojava & Syrian Democratic Forces|
Self-Defense Forces (Kurdish: Hêzên Xweparastinê, abbreviated as HXP; Arabic: قوات الحماية الذاتية, translit. Quwwāt al-himāyati al-dhātiyati, Classical Syriac: ܓܘܫܡܐ ܕܣܘܝܥܐ ܘܣܘܬܪܐ ܝܬܝܐ, translit. Gushmo d'Suyo'o w'Sutoro Yothoyo) is a multi-ethnic territorial defense militia and the only conscripted armed force in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. As a self-defense force, manpower for the HXP is recruited locally.
Name and translation
The official name of HXP in Kurdish is Hêzên Xweparastinê. But in HXP's logo of Afrin Canton, there is another Kurdish name “Hêza Parastina Xweser” which may be only used in this canton. In some Kurdish news, “Erka Xweparastinê” has been used to entitle HXP.
The main English translation of HXP is Self-Defense Forces. Another rare translation is Autonomous Protection Force (abbreviated as APF), which often creates confusion that APF is a different armed force from HXP.
Conscription, training and service
A Rojava official has stated that the self-defense duty “is not conscription” and that “it’s a natural right to defend yourselves, if there is no protection, people will be eliminated and finished.” HXP has become the first and only armed force of conscription in Rojava.
The formation and conscription of the HXP is legally based on the self-defense duty laws (Kurdish: Erka Xweparastinê) of the different Rojava cantons, which has been respectively approved by the Legislative Assembly (Kurdish: Meclîsa Zagonsaz) of every canton. According to the law, the Defense Council (Kurdish: Desteya Parastin) of each canton will open a center for Self-Defense Duty (Kurdish: Navenda Erka Xweparastinê) to register and recruit for the HXP.
The introduction of conscription has caused some tensions in Rojava. Some people attempt to escape the recruitment in different ways (for example, traveling abroad to Turkey and Iraq, not registering at the Centers for Self-Defense Duty). Thus the Asayish is ordered to arrest people who escape the self-defense duty and force them to undertake the duty. The conscription has also been criticized and rejected by Kurdish National Council, the main opposition party in Rojava.
The recruits are to be trained by the YPG at the camps. The training generally lasts for 45 days, but sometimes for 40 days (for example, the first session of HXP training in the Jazira canton lasts for 40 days) or for one month (like the first session of HXP training in the Afrin canton). The training includes military structure and tactics, ideology and interaction with civilians. After training, the recruit will begin service in the HXP.
The HXP also maintain a special forces unit.
History in different cantons
The HXP was initially formed in the Jazira Canton. The Jazira canton approved the self-defense duty law as early as in July 13, 2014. The first batch of HXP troops started training in October 11, 2014 and served as the foundation of the Self-Defense Forces. After training for 40 days, the recruits graduated in November 20, 2014.
In Afrin Canton, the self-defense duty law was introduced in 19 May 2015. And the first center for self-defense duty opened in 4 June. After training for about one month, the first batch of HXP troops graduated in July 5.
In July 2014, some news claimed that both the Jazira and Kobane cantons would introduce conscription. But the introduction of the self-defense duty law and the opening of the Center didn’t happen until June 4, 2016 in Kobane canton. It is possible that the Kobane Canton attempted to introduce conscription as early as in July 2014, but had to suspend such an attempt for certain unknown reasons. The first batch of HXP troops were recruited in June 20, 2016 and graduated in July 25th.
Military Discipline Units
The HXP founded the Military Discipline Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Disiplîna Leşkerî, Arabic: وحدات الانضباط العسكري, translit. Waḥdāt al-Inḍibāṭi al-'Askariyyi, Classical Syriac: ܚܕܘܬܐ ܕܣܘܕܪܐ ܓܝܣܝܐ, translit. Ḥdowotho d'Sudoro Gaysoyo) in July 2015. The main task of this force is to ensure military discipline, prevent arms smuggling and to protect military buildings.
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