We spoke with Kobane Defense Minister Ismet Sheikh Hasan about the situation in the city
According to reports last night, Kobane is about to fall, or there is a possibility it might fall. What is the situation now?
Yes it is true. Generally, the clashes are ongoing in the surrounding areas of Kobane. The clashes that started 18 days ago are still continuing. ISIS is attacking Kobane with all its force and heavy weaponry. We only have light arms. We are fighting with Kalashnikovs and RPGs. This is the situation as of now, and they have not been able to enter Kobane until now. We are defending Kobane. They have surrounded Kobane on all sides but we are defending the city. They are attacking us with their artillery and tanks.
Why have they not been able to enter the city? Is it because they are waiting for something or is it down to your resistance?
We are upholding a historical resistance. In many places, in Helunce village on the east side there are many dead bodies they have left lying there. They were unable to progress from the east side. As it is well known, they are able to bring reinforcements and ammunition from Raqqa, Hasakah and Aleppo. Last night around 10pm-12am they attacked once more tanks and and artilleries and were able to breach the border of the city.
You had also said yesterday that they were able to bring reinforcements from Raqqa and the other districts. How are they able to come so easily? I thought there were air strikes against them by America and the coalition. Were these ineffective?
I don’t know. I haven’t seen new air strikes. However, 3-4 days ago they had hit a tank and a vehicle of theirs in an air strike. The place they hit last night was a village called Muburba in the east side of Kobane. I never saw any other air strike. If they have so much air power, why don’t they use it? They couldn’t have progressed so much. They could not have brought so many reinforcements.
According to some experts, ISIS is now too close to the city so air strikes are now pointless. It is said that ISIS and YPG are intertwined at the moment. They also say that ISIS has changed tactics and is no longer moving in convoys but in smaller groups so that the planes cannot spot them. What do you say to this?
I can say that ISIS are NOT inside of town. They are outside. I can show their location to whoever wants. All their forces are in Mezra Dawud village in a house with red brick which is 4-5 kilometers far away from the east of Kobane. From the West, they are in Yedoqe Village near the broadcast center [radio center which is 2 km far from Kobane] and in school of Gulmet Village and Alpanore. They are there and [US] can bomb them. Again, there are no ISIS forces inside of Kobane.
Why is this kind of information coming out then? Is it on purpose or accidental?
I would say that there are plans for Kobane. Some are thinking about their own interests, some people, states, I don’t know maybe they are spreading this information. But these are not true. They haven’t entered Kobane, they are outside Kobane. If they really wanted they could strike ISIS, even their headquarters.
I want to come back to Kobane. What is the situation of the people in Kobane? Those of you in the administration, what do you think?
We are all living in Kobane, with our children. Two of my children are on the front lines. We will not leave Kobane, we will stay. We will resist in Kobane. We are the YPG/YPJ, those that want to combat terrorism, the whole world has shut its eyes, they don’t want too see us or listen to us. They want ISIS to succeed and not the Kurdish people.
Have you received any help from the Kurds of other parts?
Until now we have not received any help from the whole world. Only some people from the North [Kurdistan], civilized people from the North have come. Other than that no one has come and no ammunition or help has reached us. Some humanitarian aid and people have come from the North to help defend Kobane; but they are not trained and are inexperienced, we will train them.
If ISIS come, if they enter the city what will you do? Will you leave the city or will you fight?
We will resist to the end. Even if there is only one of us left we will fight for Kobane. Now we have made preparations for a fight in the city, and so we will fight in the city to the end, we will not leave Kobane for no one. The whole world is claiming that they are fighting terror; our call to them is where are they? Why are they not fighting terror? They have beheaded so many people, they took 6 people from the village of Murade, they were civilians and they beheaded two of them. The truth is the whole world has shut its eyes and don’t want to see or hear what is going on. We want to call upon those countries that are fighting against terrorism. It is the matter of time ISIS enters the city and commit a large scale massacre against the people in Kobane as happened in Sinjar. They [US and coalition] need to strike ISIS targets before too late. Threat of ISIS is not only for the Kurds but also for the entire world. Today it is the Kurds, tomorrow it will be someone else. If a massacre takes place tomorrow, international community will be responsible.
What do you think of the reaction shown by the Kurds as a people? The Kurds in Europe, or in the other parts; for example the Kurds of Diyarbakir have not opened their shops to protest ISIS.
It is not enough. The Kurds everywhere must walk to government institutions around the whole world, they must make the world aware that these are terrorists, we want all our Kurds in Europe in whichever country they are in and make their feelings known to these countries and the institutions there. The whole world is standing by as we fight with ISIS, there is no force that can defeat ISIS but us. They should make the whole world aware of this.