Self-Defense Forces (DFNS regions)

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Self-Defense Forces
قوات الحماية الذاتية
Hêzên Xweparastinê
ܓܘܫܡܐ ܕܣܘܝܥܐ ܘܣܘܬܪܐ ܝܬܝܐ
HXP in 2016 (2).jpg
HXP militiamen with the organization's flag in the background.
Active 11 October 2014 - present
Country Syria
Allegiance Rojava & Syrian Democratic Forces
Type Militia

Syrian Civil War

Commander-in-Chief Renas Roza

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[edit]

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),[3] which often creates confusion that APF is a different armed force from HXP.

Conscription, training and service[edit]

HXP militiamen on parade.

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.”[4] 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.[5]

The recruits are to be trained by the YPG at the camps. The training generally lasts for 45 days,[4] 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.[3] After training, the recruit will begin service in the HXP.

The HXP also maintain a special forces unit.[6]

History in different cantons[edit]

HXP militiamen of Afrin Canton.

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.[7] After training for 40 days, the recruits graduated in November 20, 2014.[8]

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.[7] After training for about one month, the first batch of HXP troops graduated in July 5.[9]

In July 2014, some news claimed that both the Jazira and Kobane cantons would introduce conscription.[10][11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Afrin's HXP forces fought against the Operation Olive Branch in early 2018, suffering heavy casualties in the process.[14]

Military Discipline Units[edit]

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)[15] in July 2015. The main task of this force is to ensure military discipline, prevent arms smuggling and to protect military buildings.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ News, ANF. ""Manbij operation will continue until ISIS is completely expelled"". 
  2. ^ J.O (5 February 2017). "Self-defense fighters join Wrath of Euphrates". Hawar News Agency. 
  3. ^ a b "Kurds raise an army to defend new federal region - Middle East - News". Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  4. ^ a b "Kurds launch conscription campaign to protect Kobane from ISIS attacks". ARA News. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  5. ^ "All parties to conflict in Syria using force to recruit young men". ARA News. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  6. ^ Rojava News [@Rojava_News_] (23 May 2017). "Third batch of Special Forces consisting of 60 fighters graduate in the Self Defence Forces of Rojava, Efrîn canton…" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  7. ^ a b "Hêza Erka Xweparstinê mezin dibe". Hawar News Agency (in Kurdish). 2015-07-24. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  8. ^ "The Graduation of the First Session of the Self-Defense Forces in Jazeera Canton". Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  9. ^ pyd rojava [@PYD_Rojava] (5 July 2015). "L EFRÎNÊ DEWREYA YEKEM YA HÊZÊN PARASTINA XWESER DEST PÊKIR" (Tweet). Retrieved 2017 – via Twitter.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. ^ "YPG's Mandatory Military Service Rattles Kurds — Syria Deeply". 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  11. ^ "PYD to enforce 'conscription law' in Syria's Kobane". ARA News. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  12. ^ "Navenda Erka xweparastinê li Kobanê hat vekirin". Hawar News Agency (in Kurdish). Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  13. ^ "Kobanê yekem dewreya 'Xweparastinê' bidawî kir" (in Kurdish). Hawar News Agency. 2016-07-25. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  14. ^ "After continued and heavy shelling since Wednesday…the Turkish forces and the factions of Operation "Olive Branch" take the control of about half of the city of Afrin". SOHR. 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  15. ^
  16. ^