Space constraints in a newspaper naturally mean that certain nuances can be overlooked or omitted for the sake of clarity for the reader. Here are some further important points as regards the situation of Assyrians in Syria, following on from my article in The Daily Star:
1. The Assyrian identity is not to be exclusively associated with the Assyrian Church of the East, much as that association has garnered increasing currency in modern times. As a matter of fact, the word 'Assyrian' is only a recent addition to the church's name, and historically it was simply known as the 'Church of the East', including a number of adherents as far east as what is now China and Mongolia. On account of the association of the historical Church of the East with the teachings of Nestorius- condemned as heretical by the First Council of Ephesus in AD 431- one may hear Aramean nationalists from the Syriac Orthodox Church derisively refer to Assyrian nationalists as a small group of 'Nestorians' simply working actively in online circles.
In any case, one can also find adherents of the Ancient Church of the East, the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Chaldean Catholic Church who identify as Assyrians. However, one may find those in the latter two denominations who identify by other designations and are keen to downplay the prevalence of Assyrian nationalism, or will set up an historical narrative to emphasize separateness.
For example, on Wikipedia, one finds that Chaldean nationalists have deemed there to be a 'Chaldean Neo-Aramaic' distinct from 'Assyrian Neo-Aramaic'. Such a division of Eastern Neo-Aramaic is tenuous indeed. It is more accurate to divide variations in Eastern Neo-Aramaic among Christians and Jews by geographical location.
2. It is more accurate to say that the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) in Syria is only 'considered' a branch of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) in Iraq (to borrow Smyth's terminology). The reality is that the ADO was founded in 1957- 22 years before the ADM- and its founders were members of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The conception that the ADO is a branch of the ADM derives from the fact that the two organizations enjoy close ties and the fact that the ADM has more influential status today. Nevertheless, as Australia-based Assyrian scholar Nicholas al-Jeloo puts it, 'their political bureaus are different, and they each have their own agendas and programs'.
3. As al-Jeloo also notes, in the area of al-Hasakeh, there exists an Assyrian Democratic Party (ADP) that opposes the ADO and its support for the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime. This organization has been active since the 1970s: reinforcing my opening point about the complexity of the relations between the Assyrian community of Syria and the Syrian government. That said, there is nothing about it that is analogous to the heated rhetoric and overtures to Assad displayed by the Aramean nationalist group Aram Nahrin.