Category Archives: English

Euphrates Volcano Chief Commander: ISIS Suffered A Major Breakdown on All Fronts

Haqi Kobani (Photo Mahmoud Balli)
Haqi Kobani (Photo Mahmoud Balli)

In an exclusive interview,  Euphrates Volcano Chief Commander Haqi Kobani says  ISIS suffered a major breakdown on all fronts.

Mutlu Civiroglu  www.twitter.com/mutludc

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Mr. Kobani, the day before, you announced the entire liberation of Ain Isa. What is the latest situation in Ain Isa and on other fronts?

Haqi Kobani: ISIS have launched extensive operations at a number of locations in recent days. Their aim was to stop the operations we recently conducted. They attacked in Ain Isa and on all the fronts but ended up suffering a major breakdown. As we shared with the public opinion two days ago, 140 gangs were killed and corpses of 94 of them are held by our side. These figures do not include those killed within the past three days. We took Ain Isa under full control two days ago. The night after, they attempted once again for an attack but were repelled.

Some media agencies have recently reported the fall of Ain Isa to ISIS. Was this true, why was such a news spread?

FullSizeRende2r
YPG Fighters in Tal Abyad

Haqi Kobani: We didn’t understand yet what sort of media agencies those spreading this news are. The entire world is, unfortunately, not siding with revolution. Half of the world is supporting ISIS, while the other half is against it. They reported the fall of Ain Isa to ISIS as propaganda against us. ISIS has taken some points in recent days but the strategic points were always under our control. And, we re-seized those points back from ISIS which thereafter attempted suicide attacks with 5-6 attackers the day before. We killed them yet much before they got close to us. The ISIS thugs who can make no progress or achievement over us are being inflicted heavy blows by both the coalition strikes from the air and our offensives from the ground. They are continuously trying to keep us occupied with an aim to stop our operations and hinder us from making further advances.

Further advances towards where?

Haqi Kobani: We are on the Sarrin side at the moment and hold all the strategic points where, clashes are also taking place. ISIS is making an effort to weaken us everywhere. Yet, it is not happening as they wish.

Is the expansion of the front from the Euphrates to Hasaka not making things more difficult for you?

Haqi Kobani: Not at all. We have taken every precaution. We have organized ourselves and taken measures in accordance with the fronts.

Officials in Washington have in recent days voiced very positive statements about the YPG and Euphrates Volcano. Are you having any opportunity to follow the messages given there?

Haqi Kobani: Of course! We closely follow every single word and development. YPG has proved its power to the whole world by now. The greatest proof has been in Kobane where we believed we would succeed when there were only two neighborhoods left under our control. There is no force other than Kurdish forces that can act together with the coalition today. We have no aircraft, but the coalition is supporting us with strikes. Coalition doesn’t have a ground force, but we are a powerful force on the ground for them. This reality has also been seen by the coalition which is therefore acting together with the YPG. Everyone has seen that victory against ISIS could be achieved only this way.

You have said you are around Sarrin at the moment. What are you expecting to happen in the battlefield in the coming days?

Haqi Kobani: In this regard, we currently have no information available to share with the public opinion. We want no fuss to emerge. Yet, we will take every single area we are clashing in now, this is a truth beyond argument. No matter what ISIS may resort to do with bomb-laden vehicles; we are determined to take control of the areas witnessing a battle at the moment. ISIS has detonated 9-10 cars within the past several days. This, however, doesn’t matter as we have taken our precautions and are doing our work.

Some media reports argued ill-treatment by your side against Arabs and Turkmens. What do you have to say in this regard, what is your relationship with other minorities?

Haqi Kobani: This kind of reports appearing on media have nothing to do with the truth. We are acting on the basis of fraternity of peoples and implementing no different practices on any of them. Our aim is a democratic Syria. As we have recently highlighted in some statements, which we don’t know if reached to the media and people as we have been taking part in operations, we conceive of an operation room which consists of Turkey, ISIS and the regime. Their media agencies, Rûdaw, Orient TV, Al-Jazeera are against the revolution in Syria. Rûdaw and Orient TV pretend to be embracing the revolution here but, yet, they are against it. As we fight and achieve success against ISIS, they are writing exact opposite things. There exists a success of YPG and they are not pleased with it.

***

Translated into English by Berna Özgencil https://twitter.com/bzgncl

Readout of the President and Vice President’s Meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani

Photo: The White House
Photo: The White House

President Obama participated in a meeting at the White House with Vice President Biden and Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They discussed a range of issues, including the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL and the status of ongoing political initiatives to address the needs of the Iraqi people and foster cooperation across all communities.

President Obama and Vice President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ strong and continued support to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the Kurdish people.

They also reaffirmed the United States’ enduring commitment under the Strategic Framework Agreement to a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.

President Obama and Vice President Biden each commended the bravery of the Kurdish Peshmerga and expressed condolences to the victims of ISIL throughout Iraq.

President Barzani thanked President Obama and Vice President Biden for the significant military support that the United States has provided to Kurdish Peshmerga in coordination with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Security Forces, including the military action taken to protect Erbil and other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan following the fall of Mosul.

Both sides agreed on the importance of strengthening relations between Baghdad and Erbil and underscored their continued shared commitment to provide support to the millions of civilians displaced by the violence in the region.

YPG Spokesman Redur Xelil: Liberation of Tal Hamis is a Very Strategic Gain

Hêzên YPG li nêzîkî bajarokê Til Hemîs
Hêzên YPG li nêzîkî bajarokê Til Hemîs

Mr. Redur Xelil, Tal Hamis has drawn all attention on itself now. What is the current situation, has Tal Hamis come under full control of the YPG forces?

As YPG and YPJ forces, we made significant advances within a short time of five-six days as a result of the operations we launched on 21 February. At around 11 this morning [February 27], our forces managed to enter Tal Hamis which was taken under full control by our forces several hours ago.

Over a hundred villages and hamlets in three sides of Tal Hamis have also come under our control. Besides, an operation to clear the city of mines and other traps laid by ISIS has just been started.

For our readers not very acquainted with the geography of the region, could you explain the strategic importance of Tal Hamis?

The town of Tal Hamis to the south of Qamishlo was one of the main headquarters of ISIS and constituted a great danger for Shengal [Sinjar]. ISIS were continuously providing back front support from Tal Hamis which was therefore a constant problem for the south of Kurdistan and at the same time for Qamishlo and other Kurdish-inhabited towns. This is why ISIS needed to be driven out of here, which YPG have accomplished with a significant victory today.

The operation you carried out last year didn’t succeed and Arabs in the region opposed you. What attitude was displayed by the local Arab population this time?

All the minorities in the Jazira Canton participated in this operation. I may not mention all of them one by one but a number of tribes such as Shamar, Jawala, Sharabi, Benitaba and Rashid all took part in the operation. In addition to units affiliated to the Syriac Military Council and the tribe of Shamar. It was a successful operation. That is to say, the attitude of the local Arabs wasn’t like last year’s. This is because everyone knows by now that ISIS is a dark force. The methods of torture ISIS perpetrated on people also caused great reaction from the local people.

Redo
Spokesperson of the YPG Redur Xelil

 

Are ISIS planning further attacks in the coming days against places of strategic importance such as Al-Houl?

Our fight against ISIS will continue as long as the threat on the Canton of Jazira remains, we know no bounds in this regard.

It is being reported that the same kind of the solidarity between the U.S.-led coalition and YPG forces is taking place in Jazira at the moment. What would you as the YPG Spokesman say about the role of the coalition strikes?

Coalition forces too have actively participated in this operation and provided a major support to us, thus enabling the operation to accomplish.

You’ve said you had acted together with Syriac forces. Many Christian civilians have been kidnapped. What is the current situation in Tal Tamir?

ISIS attempted attacks in Tal Tamir especially after their defeat in Kobanê and our advance in Tal Hamis. Three Syriac villages were unfortunately taken by ISIS in these attacks. According to the information we have, more than a hundred civilians including children, women and elders have been kidnapped by ISIS. No information is yet available regarding their fate but they are guessed to have been taken to the Abdulaziz Mountain which is also held by the ISIS. Very fierce clashes are currently taking place between YPG and ISIS in order for the retaking of these Assyrian villages.

Bashar Assad was being asserted to be protecting the Christian community in Syria and the villages you’ve mentioned are said to be close to the Syrian regime which however remained silent at the siege and abduction of Christians. How do you assess this attitude of the regime?

Allegations on the Assad regime being the protector of minorities should be approached with suspicion. The regime made no intervention, despite having opportunities, while ISIS attacked these villages. The fact that YPG’s manner of protecting minorities is not just a politics or propaganda is known very well by everyone now. YPG is struggling to protect all minorities in practice too. I suppose minorities also know this very well now. Everyone aware of this truth backs YPG which is thus growing more and more every day. In all the areas controlled by YPG, everyone can continue their life in peace and tranquility.

What about Tal Abyad. The cantons of Jazira and Kobanê have parted from each other now. Are attacks being planned on Tal Abyad in the coming days to ensure the merging of the two cantons?

As I’ve just said, our fight will continue as long as the ISIS threat remains. We know no bounds in this struggle which, in other words, will not be concluded with the liberation of Kobanê and Tal Hamis alone.

What would you as the YPG Spokesman like to say regarding your Australian fighter Johnson who lost his life few days ago?

Ashley Johnson’s joining the YPG ranks, which happened despite the Australian and Kurdistan territories being kilometers away from each other, honored us. Inspired by the resistance we mounted, Ashley joined the anti-terror fight we are waging for humanity, and played an active role in it. He was fighting on the front lines. He was martyred in the village of Xesan in Tal Hamis.

Ashley is a martyr of the Kurdish people and humanity. We offer our condolences to both his family and the Australian people. We believe the solidarity between peoples and the spirit of struggle will grow stronger with his memory.

***

Translated into English by Berna Özgencil  https://twitter.com/bzgncl

Kurdish-Arab Rebel Alliance May be Key to Obama’s Syrian Strategy

*Kurdish-Arab Rebel Alliance May be Key to Obama’s Syrian Strategy

YPG_FSA_Kobane

By Mutlu Civiroglu and Wladimir Van Wilgenburg

Now that the anti-ISIS coalition has struck Raqqa in Syria, it must seriously consider the Kurds as its most effective on the ground partners. The Obama administration needs local partners in Iraq and Syria to fight against the jihadist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, ISIL, or the Islamic State) if it hopes to maintain any gains resulting from its attacks on ISIS positions.

A spokesperson of the main Kurdish armed group in Syria highlighted the importance of Kurdish assets. “Whoever wants to destroy ISIS should take YPG into consideration. Let me say clearly that any strategy in Syria without YPG is doomed to fail,” the People’s Protection Units (YPG) spokesperson Polat Can said in our interview with him. Given the Kurds’ extensive experience and professionalism, they represent the best the best chance to revitalize a beleaguered Syrian resistance and help President Obama achieve his objectives.

In his September 10 speech, President Obama ruled out the Assad regime as a partner in fighting ISIS and emphasized strengthening the Syrian opposition. “We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all,” he said. While admirable that the president choose not to work with a man whose preferred strategy involves bombing his own civilian population, it leaves a dearth of effective partners on the ground. However, in Syria—just as in Iraq—cooperation between Kurds and Arabs could play a key role in eliminating ISIS. US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey recognized the fact that Kurds constitute an important part of Obama’s new strategy to fight ISIS.

Although Iraq has witnessed firsthand the effects of ISIS-induced instability, neighboring Syria has suffered far more with the advances and atrocities of the extremist group. ISIS has succeeded in wiping out many Syrian nationalist armed groups that comprise the bulk of moderate anti-Assad opposition. Both the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Kurds have faced attacks by ISIS, leading to incredibly large refugee flows into Turkey.

Nonetheless, the Kurdish YPG forces have successfully fought ISIS and won most of its battles in both Iraq and Syria. Not only was the YPG an asset in the rescue operation for thousands of Yezidis fleeing from Iraq’s Sinjar, it also secured a wide area in northern Syria from the Kurdish city of Afrin to Yarubiya, a town border to Iraq, despite the extremist push against Kurdish villages. These regions maintain relative stability compared to other parts of Syria, allowing Kurds, Arabs, and Christians to live peacefully together, thanks in large part to the ability of the YPG to keep a modicum of security.

Western diplomats have traditionally been reluctant to meet the PYD for their ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), viewed as a terrorist group in the United States and Turkey. After successful operations against ISIS extremists, however, both countries have begun reevaluating their positions towards it. The Wall Street Journal reported that US officials recognize the fact that Kurdish fighters in Syria may play a critical role in the campaign against ISIS, and have conducted talks with Syrian Kurds. The success of the YPG also prompted Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman to write about how the fight against ISIS has given the YPG and the PKK more legitimacy.

For their part, the Syrian Kurds have not only expressed interest and enthusiasm in pursuing Obama strategy against ISIS, they have already laid the groundwork for cooperation with Syrian nationalists. In an interview with Voice of America (VOA), YPG Spokesman Polat Can said, “We are the most experienced military force fighting against IS, and we are willing to actively participate in the international coalition. We are currently meeting many countries on this issue including with those who are decision makers.”

As the YPG continue its fight against ISIS on several fronts, it hosted a former rival on August 22. FSA Colonel Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi sought to mend fences with the Kurds by meeting YPG commander with General Commander of YPG Sipan Hemo in the Kurdish city of Afrin, north of Aleppo. Al-Oqaidi, the former head of the FSA’s military council in Aleppo, initially angered the Kurds by fighting jointly with Islamist groups against the Kurds in Aleppo. The FSA said it attacked the YPG for supporting Assad. Kurds allege this led to the killing of nineteen Kurdish civilians and the kidnapping of at least 400 others by the various rebel groups.

But in January last year, alliances started to change, when the Free Syrian Army clashed with ISIS, and lost huge swaths of territory in Syria, including Raqqa and the oil fields in Deir Ezzor. This led new cooperation between rebel groups and the Kurds, resulting in an agreement between the YPG and the Ahl as-Sham operation room in April last year to fight ISIS in Aleppo, and to cooperate against Assad. On August 22, al-Akidi and an FSA-delegation apologized for the FSA’s past mistakes, saying that Kurds, Christians, and Arabs, should work for the overthrow of the Syrian regime. “We want to work with the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the FSA if they accept the rights of Kurdish people and correct past mistakes,” Hemo said in a video.

In an exclusive interview, the Defense Minister of local Afrin Canton government Abdo Chilo, who took part in the meeting between the YPG and the FSA in Afrin, also told the Atlantic Council that the FSA wants to open a new page with the Kurds. “We told him we accepted his apology and we valued his visit. He realizes the power of YPG and wants closer relations with us, something we have long desired as well.”

The Kurds appear ready to fight alongside any secular group that will work for a pluralistic and democratic Syria against ISIS and the Assad regime. “We value Akidi’s visit and his request of help from YPG. It shows his willingness to work and create something good. We are ready to form a joint front with FSA and work against IS thugs and the brutal Assad regime,” Chilo added.

YPG spokesman Polat Can told Turkey’s daily Radikal that they are ready to work with anyone who is willing to fight against ISIS. “It has been over two years that we have been fighting against ISIS and like-minded extremist groups. We are keen on collaborating with moderate that respect to democracy, human rights and accept our national rights as Kurds.”

This historic meeting signifies a major starting point for effective cooperation against ISIS as well as the Assad regime. The meeting led to the formation of a new joint FSA-YPG operations room named “Euphrates Volcano” on September 10 in Kobane, which will carry out operations in areas surrounding Kobane, including the ISIS-stronghold of Raqqah. One day after its formation, the joint operation room carried out its first attack against ISIS in Qara Qawzak.

Abdurrahman Saleh, a spokesperson for ISIS, confirmed in our interview with him an alliance between Syrian anti-Assad rebels and Kurds, but suggested it to be a local alliance rather than a cohesive policy. “Some battalions of al-Tawheed brigade in Aleppo cooperate with the YPG against ISIS, but I do not know if this is a general decision, or a specific case. It may be a local agreement, rather than an overall strategy,” he said.

The new rebel alliance between the Kurds and the FSA could provide a determining factor to stop the expansion of the ISIS caliphate. If the FSA and the YPG can maintain a joint front, it will likely have a major impact on the success of fight both the militant group and the Assad regime in the longer run. The YPG, with its experienced and skilled fighters and strong popular support can provide a morale boost for the secular and moderate Syrian opposition and be a determining factor in preventing ISIS expansion in Syria. For Obama and the anti-ISIS coalition, keeping the Kurds incentivized to be their boots on the ground will be the key to fighting this war.

Mutlu Civiroglu is a Kurdish affairs analyst focusing on Syria and Turkey. He has been closely monitoring YPG’s fight against IS and other jihadist groups. You can follow him on Twitter @mutludc

Wladimir van Wilgenburg is an analyst of Kurdish politics for the Jamestown Foundation and a contributing writer for Al-Monitor

* This article was originally published on Atlantic Council Website on September 23,  2014

Psaki: We’ll Continue to Support the Brave Defenders of Kobani

Jen Psaki, Spokesperson of the US State Department
Jen Psaki, Spokesperson of the US State Department

Jen Psaki, Spokesperson of the State Department comments on Kobane on Daily Press Briefing of January 27, 2015:

QUESTION:  The biggest challenge in Kobani seems to be over. The Kurdish officials from Iraq and from Kobani have declared victory there.  But as you know, there are many more challenges that faces the rebels protecting the city.  Of course, they have said it officially that they don’t have ammunition – enough ammunition and stuff.  Also the civilians who want to go back to the city, when they want to rebuild the city – I’m wondering whether the United States is going to be a major player in terms of providing humanitarian and military assistance for the people and the rebels there to help alleviate the challenge that remain.

PSAKI:  Well, we have been, continue to be, have consistently been the largest provider of humanitarian assistance as it relates to the Syria conflict in the world, and that won’t change.  And certainly, as there are humanitarian needs, whether it’s in Kobani and other places, I expect that we will contribute – continue to be major contributors.

I know you’re looking ahead, but obviously the point we’re at now, so let me just reiterate this.  As CENTCOM announced yesterday, anti-ISIL forces now control approximately 90 percent of the city of Kobani, and we congratulate its brave defenders.  We’ll continue to support them as we look to the coming weeks ahead.  This is an important step in the first phase of a long-term campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, because of the strategic value ISIL places on Kobani.

I think, broadly speaking, the fight against ISIL is far from over, but we do feel that their failure in Kobani has denied them one of their strategic objectives.  And over time, we’ve seen that they’ve not only used Kobani as a base for driving their own narrative of inevitability, but also they’ve put a lot of resources and people into Kobani as well.

QUESTION:  There is no doubt that without the United States military support, the rebels would not have been able, probably, to do what they have done.  But as you know, the United States has helped transfer weapons to those rebels.  But should we expect that they would receive more ammunition?  Because probably the United States is the only partner they can look up to now.  Turkey is not going to do that; Syrian Government is not going to do that.  Should we expect the United States to do that?  Because ISIS could, at any moment, when the airstrikes are gone, come back and recapture the town and attack the town.

PSAKI:  As I mentioned, we will continue to support the effort.  In terms of more specifics, I’d certainly point you to my colleagues at the Department of Defense.

Source: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/01/236800.htm#SYRIA

 

Chief YPG Commander Berxwedan: Our Victory is the Beginning of the End for ISIS

YPG Commander Mahmud Berxwedan, Canton PM Anwar Moslem, Defense Chied Ismet Hasan and other officoals Photo (Mislim Nebo)
YPG Commander Mahmud Berxwedan, Canton PM Anwar Moslem other officials Photo (Mislim Nebo)

Mahmud Berxwedan, the chief commander of the YPG in Kobane delivered a speech at the special ceremony held about the liberation of Kobane City.

“ISIS thugs should know that just as the houses of Kobane became a graveyard for them, our villages will also be a graveyard for them. Our victory is the beginning of the end for ISIS worldwide.”

Berxwedan recalled that victory had come a day before the anniversary of the declaration of the founding of the Kobane canton, adding: “We will continue to resist until not one square meter of our land is under occupation. We would like to thank everyone who supported us, in particular those maintaining the vigil on the border.”

YPG commander also thanked the coalition forces led by the USA that supported the Kobane resistance from the air, the FSA forces that fought alongside the YPG/YPJ and peshmerga forces that provided support with heavy weaponry.

“Our struggle has not ended yet. Our villages are under occupation and the threat to Kobane has not gone away. I call on the youth of Rojava and Kobane to join the operation to liberate the villages. If we cannot liberate our land we will have to live a 100 years under ISIS barbarism.”

Source: http://en.firatajans.com/gallery/our-victory-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-isis/our-victory-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-isis-1422360472

Anwar Moslem: All World Has a Share in Kobane’s Victory

kobani ozgur

In an interview conducted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015, the PM of the Kobane Canton administration Anwar Moslem comments on the liberation of the city after along battle.

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

While news had been spreading of the victory in Kobane for a number of days you officially declared victory the other day. The victory has echoed around the world, and everyone is speaking about it. What are you feeling? What would you like to say about this victory?

The assault by ISIS on Kobane is entering its 5th month. Here our female and male youths exhibited an example of unmatched resistance in order to protect the civilian population here. The victory which this resistance resulted in has shocked the whole world, and they have shown much respect for this victory. The airstrikes undertaken by the coalition led by America also had a role in this victory. The coalition, from America to Europe, and those people who have supported us from around the world all have a share in this victory. They united for brotherhood among peoples, peace and democracy against ISIS whose only philosophy and goal is to burn and destroy. Groups such as Siwar Rakka and Shamsal Sham from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), as well as our peshmerga brothers who supported us with heavy weapons also made a big contribution to this victory. Working together we should not only drive ISIS from Kobane but from everywhere.

Yesterday American State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki also celebrated the victory in Kobane and declared that the United States would continue to provide support. How do you evaluate this statement and the attitude of America to Kobane thus far?

Enwer Mislim

We are also celebrating them because they too have a share in this victory. Kobane is now a city that belongs not only to the residents of Kobane but to all of those people who have supported it. In the days ahead we will achieve more important victories. We hope that as a government, as a people and as House members and Senators all Americans will continue to support us. ISIS carried out around 40 suicide attacks employing vehicles in Kobane and fired thousands of shells into the city. When civilians return they will face many great difficulties. We hope that America, which has supported our fighters, will also support our children and mothers who have been driven from their homes and lands and were forced to seek refuge in different countries. With their support we will build a new Kobane.

-What kind of work are you carrying out to rebuild Kobane? How can those who want to support you do so?

In Kobane there are still ISIS corpses among the rubble. There is a risk of certain infectious diseases such as Ebola beginning to spread. There are a number of things they could do to help on the subject of health. In order to remove this wreckage we need things like backhoes and other municipal vehicles. The entire infrastructure of the city has been damaged. We need to rebuild this infrastructure. There is a committee which we as the canton administration formed in which there are engineers, doctors, lawyers and teachers. This commission will come out with a report shortly for all of those who are interested in providing support.

As of now have any large states promised to help? Have you met with any of the states which are part of the coalition or any international organizations?

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We have just been able to achieve liberation and our victory is only two days old. Our meetings with all states will continue. Because ISIS attacks still continue. We will have meetings with international organizations and preparations are underway. We will establish a peaceful environment for our people both in the city center and in the villages.

I want to ask about the villages. It is being reported that the YPG has begun operations to liberate the villages. What kind of difficulties will be experienced in retaking the villages and how long will it take to completely retake the villages?

In Kobane there are 380 villages however ISIS is not in all of these villages. Many of their important commanders also died in Kobane. The YPG is planning to take back the villages within the shortest possible period however ISIS is still reinforcing the area with heavy weapons. In order to take back the villages there will once again be a need for airstrikes from the US-led coalition.

How many villages have been liberated as of now?

Now the villages in the immediate vicinity of Kobane have been liberated. The push to liberate the villages is still continuing, and in the east toward Tilşehir the villages of Minaz, Gulmit, Memit, and Helinc have been liberated. We will continue to inform the public as we retake more villages.

Are coalition airstrikes continuing or has there been a reduction in the number of airstrikes?

No, the airstrikes are still ongoing. Every peace-loving democratic person is grateful to the American-led coalition for these airstrikes. Right now the city is entirely under our control and the coalition is carrying out effective bombings against ISIS positions in the villages and these strikes continue to degrade ISIS.

According to some American sources you have not entirely retaken Kobane but only 90% of the city. Why did they say 90% and not the entire city? Has Kobane been entirely liberated? Is what you are saying correct?

When they said 90% there was in fact still a certain danger however now it has been entirely liberated and yesterday we made that statement. The American sources had made this statement the previous day. However we need to make this clear, the enemy we are facing, ISIS, is a serious enemy. The ISIS danger continues in our villages but let everyone now relax, the city is entirely under our control. God willing we will liberate the villages too within a short amount of time.

Not only Kurds but all peoples of the world were very pleased with the victory in Kobane. What would you like to say to everyone who has supported you and to Kurds in particular?

In the name of all of the organizations in Kobane and in the name of the canton we thank everyone who supported us regardless of their political ideas. We hope that this support will continue. We hope in particular that young women and men will return to Kobane and take a place within the resistance. As we offer thanks to everyone, we also celebrate everyone who has supported us in this victory.

***

Thanks for https://twitter.com/TheRojavaReport and  https://twitter.com/devbarkin for translating this interview into English

Interview with Dutch YPG Fighter Richard Jansen

Richardjns
Richard Jansen (Photo by Roel Geeraedts)

Richard Jansen is one of the Westerners who has joined Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to fight against ISIS.

In this interview Richard explains why he decided to go to Rojava and join Kurds, and his experience since he arrived there.

Richard Jansen and Australian YPG Fighter Benjamin

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Van Hollen, Blackburn Urge State Department to Grant Travel Visa to Co-Chairman of the PYD

 

Chris                                                    Marsha

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Co-Chairs of the Kurdish American Caucus, released a letter on January 14 to Secretary of State Kerry urging him to grant the travel visa request of Salih Muslim Mohammed, Co-Chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of Syria.

“As the U.S. continues its campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), we believe that the PYD is one of the most effective partners the U.S. has on the ground in Syria,” they wrote.

Salih_Moslem

“We urge you to permit Salih Muslim to come to Washington in January to meet with non-governmental members of the American foreign policy community and others to discuss directly what we can do together to defeat ISIL and advance the cause of a secular, democratic Syria.”

***

Full text of the letter:

The Honorable John F. Kerry

Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC  20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

As Co-Chairs of the Kurdish American Congressional Caucus we are writing to request that you grant the visa request of Salih Muslim Mohammed, Co-Chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of Syria, to travel to the United States to attend a conference in Washington DC in January 2015.

As the U.S. continues its campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), we believe that the PYD is one of the most effective partners the U.S. has on the ground in Syria.

Earlier this year PYD fighters helped to end the ISIL siege around Mount Sinjar thus allowing thousands of Iraqi Yazidis to escape death at the hands of ISIL. Since then they have also been fighting valiantly to prevent the expansion of ISIL in northern Syria, most prominently in the border town of Kobani.

While we welcome the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIL targets and the dropping of arms supplies which have helped the PYD forces defending Kobani, we think it is important to expand our contacts with this critical Syrian partner in the war against the IS and other salafist jihadists active in the country.

As we understand it, the reluctance to issue a visa to Salih Muslim is partly due to Turkey’s concerns about the PYD and its links with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). However, the Turkish government has itself been negotiating directly with the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. It has also engaged on a number of occasions in conversations with Salih Muslim in Ankara, including at the level of the Under Secretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The PYD has made it clear that they seek good relations with the Government of Turkey.

Last but not least, the PYD unlike the PKK, is not on the United States Foreign Terrorist Organizations List.  In fact, the PYD is a distinct organization with distinct goals and objectives to protect the Kurdish minority in Syria from the on-going violence in that war-torn country and to participate in an eventual national reconciliation agreement that will provide guarantees and protection for Syria’s many minority groups, including the Kurds.

We urge you to permit Salih Muslim to come to Washington in January to meet with non-governmental members of the American foreign policy community and others to discuss directly what we can do together to defeat ISIL and advance the cause of a secular, democratic Syria.

We appreciate your urgent consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Chris Van Hollen
Co-Chair
Kurdistan American Caucus

Marsha Blackburn
Co-Chair
Kurdistan American Caucus

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Source: http://vanhollen.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/van-hollen-blackburn-urge-state-department-to-grant-travel-visa-to-co

YPG Spokesman in Kobane: We Are Continuing Our Victory Operation

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Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

Fighting in Kobane which has left four months behind has become harder with the onset of the winter. What has been witnessed on the battlefield in the past three, four days?

Within the last four months left behind, we have mounted unprecedented resistance against the dark terrorist powers of the Middle East. Gaining strength from this resistance, we have in recent days repelled the ISIS attacks in Mekteba Reş (Black School) area and Mishtenur Neighborhood also. We have reseized many streets and avenues under ISIS control as part of the operation to liberate Kobane which we are continuing for nearly one month now. The ISIS couldn’t tolerate losing these areas of course. They launched quite severe attacks to take back what they have lost. We however proved with our resistance that even a single inch of the areas taken by YPG will not fall into the hands of the ISIS anymore. They carried out suicide car attacks that resulted in the demolition of dozens of houses around the scenes, while dozens of theirs committed suicide attacks too. Yet they haven’t been able to advance. This is how the ISIS is being forced out of Kobane and how we are continuing our victory operation to liberate Kobane . I can say that Kobane is taking one more step on the path to victory every day.

Şoreş Hesen (Foto: Hawar News)
Şoreş Hesen (Foto: Hawar News)

Are the areas you have mentioned, which include the Water Reservoir, Mekteba Reş and Mishtenur Neighborhood, currently under your control?

Right, these areas are under our control now and being protected against fresh attacks by the ISIS. Besides remaining in defensive position, we are also continuing our work to liberate the city. We are repelling all the heavy attacks and making further advances. We have established the criteria of this move, which is based on not retreating.

Public opinion widely convinced by now that Kobane will not fall and the YPG will not be defeated. Many believe, however, the process of liberating Kobane is progressing slowly. How do you comment on that?

As we stated several times previously, street fighting is a difficult one which has no rules. All the houses and streets currently under ISIS control are connected to each other, forming completeness. It is therefore not possible to draw the ISIS back from all these houses and streets within a short time. The ISIS is an organization that recognizes neither humanity nor rules. We are making a slow progress because we secure the areas we seize, making sure to give them no opportunity to infiltrate into these areas again.

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For the last several days, it has been reported that the ISIS is bringing in reinforcements from Sarrin, Tal Abyad and surrounding cities. Is that true?

Yes, those reports are absolutely true. ISIS brings up reinforcements every day and owing to the winter conditions, exhaustion and other reasons they are rotating out different groups every 5-6 days. None of their fighters has the will to stay and fight in Kobane for more than a month. Therefore they are continuously changing groups of fighters. Those who get tired go back to the surrounding villages and cities and new ones come to take their place. We see how whenever we destroy a unit another comes to take its place. Up until now more than 10 Chechen units have been destroyed. 6-7 Turkish have been destroyed, and in addition many other groups from countries such as Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan and others have also been destroyed. We see every group we kill being replaced by a new one.  The ISIS thugs fighting us in Kobane consist of fighters from 27 various countries. These remarks of ours are grounded on evidences and documents.

Apart from that, a large number of ISIS members that are coming to fight against the Kurds in Rojava are crossing through Turkish borders. Whether or not the [Turkish] state is aware of this we are saying this as a criticism. Turkey must stop and think about this matter seriously. Up until now hundreds of people from Turkey have been killed here, and if you want to proof then we are happy to share these documents with the press in a suitable manner.

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You are making an interesting claim, and it would be possible for you to share these documents with the public. Because people seem to be talking about a small number but you are talking about hundreds.

Yes, we could share these documents with you and it would not be difficult. Turkey should look into its control of the border. If Turkey is not cooperating with ISIS they must prove to the world that they have no connections with the people that cross through their own territory. Moreover they should stop ISIS from organizing everywhere from Ankara to the Kurdish cities [of Turkey]. The large number of Turkish ISIS members who have been killed in Kobane has raised our suspicions. Everyone knows that all of these gang members – those from Chechnya, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, the Arab countries, but also the United States, France and Germany – are crossing from Turkey to Rojava.

YPG Kobane

I want to ask about the support for ISIS coming from Tal Abyad, Sirrin and some of the other from surrounding cities. Some question why the coalition does not target the roads on which they are bringing up their support. If they continue to be able to bring up support in this manner the battle will go on much longer. What can you tell us on this?

Up until now 95% of the airstrikes in Kobane have been successful. They have gotten the expected results, and under the rubble of the collapsed houses we have recovered many ISIS corpses. I cannot say with any certainty why the coalition is not targeting areas outside of Kobane. We have no authority over them.

However as a suggestion we can propose that they use more warplanes. This is to say that if there is a plane patrolling over Kobane another plane should be patrolling outside of Kobane. We think such a possibility exists, and that in the place of one plane the coalition could send seven. We know that the coalition is operating heavily around Shengal [Sinjar], Til Hamis, Rakka and even Baghdad but we believe that the coalition can send another plane. We are of the opinion that even if it is just one more plane that the logistics and weapons support could be cut. A short time ago the coalition targeted ISIS 7km to the east in the village of Şêran and destroyed a 10 person squad. This is something new that is an airstrike outside of Kobane is taking place! Right now there is a plane above Kobane ready to carry out airstrikes and searching for targets. Of course if there had been two planes then one could be over Kobane and the other patrolling outside and we would get better results.

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Last week  there were two attacks in France and 17 people were killed. As the YPG how do you assess these attacks?

ISIS is an inhumane organization. We consider it important that different people and democratic countries are coming together and working together against such groups. It might even have been a little overdue. We have been fighting against ISIS for a year and a half in Syria. Everyone saw this but remained silent about it. We criticized this silence. We look at the many different world leaders who took part in the march in France as a response to our criticism. We now know that the whole world will support us in the battle we are waging against the enemies of humanity.

We want to emphasize once more that as much as we are protecting ourselves, we are also protecting humanity from a brutal organization that is a threat for the entire world. For this reason, we believe more support needs to be given to the YPG, which has fought ISIS on the frontlines and has been paying the heaviest price. All countries including France and other coalition members and even countries not in the coalition should support us. With this support we can be rid of ISIS which is the enemy of humanity, even more quickly.

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In some news reports recently it has been reported that France has provided the YPG with armed support. Are these claims true?

No, such aid has not yet been discussed. Other than the weapons provided by Southern Kurdistan [KRG] and airdropped by American planes and those brought by the peshmergas themselves, no other weapons have reached us. I want to underline this. However of course we need weapons and ammunition to win this battle. We are certainly expecting aid from France and other countries.

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For French translation of the interview: https://civiroglu.net/2015/01/16/ypg-a-kobane/

For German translation of the interview: https://civiroglu.net/2015/01/16/ypg-kobane-2/

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For my participation to a show, interview me or get a quote on Kobane and other Kurdish related issues, please contact me at mciviroglu@gmail.com

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Thanks for https://twitter.com/bzgncl and https://twitter.com/TheRojavaReport for translating this interview into English