Hasaka, Syria (AINA) -- Kurdish forces belonging to the People's Protection Units (YPG) have setup training camps in three Assyrian villages on the Khabur river, in the Hasaka province in northeast Syria. The largest camp is in the village of Tel Nasri, with more than 200 YPG fighters now living in the village. Two smaller camps have been setup in two other Assyrian villages. The YPG fighters are being trained by Russian military personnel. The camps were setup beginning on January 26.
The YPG is the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Narsai Oshana, an Assyrian from Tel Nasri who now lives in Chicago, has spoken to Assyrians from Tel Nasri and Tel Tamar. Mr. Oshana says the YPG have stated they will only stay in the villages for the duration of the training, which is expected to last about two months.
"I don't expect them to leave," said Mr. Oshana, "and neither do the Assyrians in Syria."
Mr. Oshana reports that on January 31 the Asayish, the intelligence arm of the YPG, opened an office in Tel Tamar.
Tel Nasri is about 900 meters from Tel Tamar and both are on the north bank of the river.
Before the Syrian civil war began Tel Nasri had 180 Assyrian households, with a population of 950. Today there are only 4 or 5 households in Tel Nasri, with about 25 Assyrians. About 60 households from Tel Nasri have fled to Beirut, 20 to Tel Tamar, and the rest to America, Australia, Canada and Europe.
Tel Nasri and Tel Tamar are two of 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur river which were attacked by ISIS on February 23, 2015, causing nearly 3000 Assyrian to flee their homes. Most have not returned. ISIS captured 253 Assyrians in that initial attack and has been releasing them for ransom in batches; there are now 73 Assyrians from Khabur still being held by ISIS (AINA 2016-01-29).