The Third Line
Much of Syria is a nightmarish landscape of bombed-out buildings and scorched countryside laid to waste by brutal civil war. But the northeastern region of Syria, a section of the country controlled by the Kurds and labelled by them Rojava, is the exception. This quiet agricultural region has been spared the worst of the war’s brutality. The Kurdish population here has thus far refused to overtly align with either side of the conflict, taking a diplomatic position they have labeled “The Third Line.”
It appears to be working. As Assad’s regime focuses their fight on the rebels in the Syria's western regions, the Kurds in Rojava have established an interim government, local councils, and armed forces like the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdish police force known as Asayish. In stark contrast to the ruins of other Syrian cities, downtown areas of Qamishli, one of the largest Kurdish cities in Syria, are lively and appear untouched by the war raging a few hundred miles away.
But this self-rule in the midst of an ongoing civil war comes at a cost -- Rojava’s economy has suffered and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) continues to attack its borders, wreaking havoc and terror as they fight to establish their caliphate. Kurdish forces try to keep them at bay.
Al Qamishli, Syria