Category Archives: Mutlu Civiroglu

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

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

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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

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.

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“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.”

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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

Senior YPG Commander Berxwedan: We Firmly Believe Kobane Will Triumph Soon

YPG Fighter in Kobane (Photo: DIHA)
A YPG Fighter in Kobane (DIHA)

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

Mr. Berxwedan, I would firstly like to wish a happy New Year to you and all Kobane. Exciting news are coming through from Kobane for the last several days. What is the result of the recent clashes?

We wish especially to the Christian world and the whole world a happy new year. As you know, we started the operation to liberate Kobane about 15 days ago. Operations at the eastern and southern fronts were carried out as part of this offensive during which YPG and YPJ fighters have achieved a great success.

Most recently, the Mekteba Resh [Black School] where the ISIS thugs were deployed and carried out attacks from, and several other strategic points were liberated by us three days ago. A number of thugs were killed and their ammunition were seized by us. That’s why our fighters are in high morale and do firmly believe they will triumph.

Mahmud Berxwedan
Mahmud Berxwedan

What is the strategic importance of the liberated Black School and the other strategic points on the path to victory?

The area of the Black School and other points we took control over, divides Kobane into two sides. From Mishtenur Hill extends a line to the border and under the hill and above at the 48th Street there is a pool, from where dominance can be gained over the western and eastern sides. The strategic importance of this area is very great. When ISIS thugs were there, they could see each side of the city both with naked eye and with binoculars. We can say that we have been able to liberate this point from the ISIS thugs completely and now it is in our control. That’s why the operation of the night before was of great importance and successful.

The ISIS entered the city from the eastern front and attacked mainly from this side. What kind of an impact would the liberation of the mentioned points have on the eastern front?

ISIS made advances through these mentioned points which are the areas that enable to gain domination over the city. Now that we have captured these areas, ISIS will no longer be able to move as easily as it has done so far, because we have also taken the control of a reinforcement route they used. Therefore, ISIS is in panic now. They are startled and have withdrawn from Kobane many tanks and armored vehicles of theirs.

YPG Fighter in Kobane (DIHA)
YPG Fighters in Kobane (Photo: DIHA)

What is the course of the fighting in Kobane, are you hopeful that a greater progress can be achieved or the Kobane city can be entirely cleansed of the ISIS within a short period?

We know that ISIS will not give up on Kobane that easily. During recent clashes we saw once again that they are firmly resisting to not to leave Kobane. They are using all their possibilities to the fullest extent, carrying out suicide attacks with vehicles or individuals. In order not to leave Kobane, they have brought their most skilled teams here. It is not true to say that the ISIS thugs are withdrawing from Kobane but they all are being killed by the YPG and YPJ fighters who are fighting at every point with courage and commitment to victory and liberating these areas step by step. Journalists can come here and document it; their corpses are to be found in every single house liberated by us now. Therefore, we cannot speak of a simple and quick triumph but we believe that the thugs will no longer be able to resist in the face of the operation we are waging.

Do you attribute their recently increased suicide attacks to this offensive?

ISIS is making every effort to make a progress in Kobane. Everyone knows that the main method of ISIS is the suicide attacks. A few more explosions took place in the Black School and some other houses the in past few days. They are carrying out both suicide attacks and other explosion tactics. In this way, they want to spread fear but this tactics of theirs has not really worked in Kobane since our fighters are on the alert and moving in a professional manner.

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YPG Fighters and Local Defenders Photo: DIHA

 

Many experts on Kurds and Syria thought that Kobane would fall in a two weeks time. What is the secret of this resistance? How could YPG withstand a power like ISIS and is heading on the way to victory as you put it?

If examined well, it will be seen that the secret of the resistance lies hidden in the soul of every single fighter of the YPG not accepting to surrender. Putting up a heroic fight, these fighters wrote epics such as the Serzori Epic, they fought to the last drop of blood despite being encircled from all sides, and fell a martyr saying “Bijî Berxwedana Kobane” [Long live Kobane resistance].

arin-mirkan1
YPG Fighter Arin

 

Fighters like Martyr Zozan and Martyr Erish were martyred whilst fighting by saying that the ISIS tanks could enter Kobane only by walking over their bodies. This is where lies the secret of this resistance which is the struggle of tens of others like Arin and Kendal.

This secret is the devotion to the land and to an honorable life. ISIS thugs have so far been able to capture in a short time all the areas they headed for, but they haven’t been able to take Kobane where they have been suffering heavy losses for over three months now. They will never be able to take it either. The spirit of resistance born by YPG and YPJ fighters is present nowhere else all around the world. This spirit is also the guarantee of the success to be achieved in 2015.

Is ISIS still bringing in reinforcements from other cities as Raqqa which are under its control, to launch new attacks?

At every opportunity they are bringing in reinforcements from the cities of Manbij, Jarablus, Al-Bab, Raqqa and Tal Abyad under their control. Having suffered a setback here, they now want to turn the situation to their advantage by means of these forces. We are making a progress and have now taken some more significant points under control but they continue to resist. Despite all the reinforcements being deployed by them, we believe we are going to liberate Kobane in not a very long time.

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YPG Fighters in a Newly Liberated Building (Photo: DIHA)

 

Recently a number of air strikes were carried out by the coalition. Is there a new strategy of the coalition forces regarding the roads used by the ISIS to dispatch reinforcements?

There is no major change in question regarding the coalition’s strategy. However, considerable airstrikes were conducted earlier against the roads in Tal Abyad and Jarablus areas. The strikes are mainly targeting the forepart of the battlefield and partially the backside.

What is the impact of the enhanced and effective air attacks on you?

Air attacks have increased in the last few days. This support of coalition forces also causes a psychological destruction for the ISIS.

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What do you think about the return of more civilians to Kobane?

Many of our people are waiting at the border and want to return to Kobane as soon as possible. There are also those who have not left Kobane and continue living here despite the war. The inhabitants of Kobane have never lived anywhere else before, they have no such an incident in their history. Many families are turning back to Kobane of their own accord. On the one hand this is good in terms of support but on the other bad, because due to the harsh winter conditions we have some problems, especially with the heating. Besides, a humanitarian corridor into Kobane has yet to be opened. There is also a lack of experienced doctors. But the people who have returned say that they will not leave Kobane even if they have to eat soil out of necessity.

Finally, what is your message to the Kurds and the world for the year 2015?

2014 was the year of the Kurdish resistance as the Kurds showed the whole world that they will never accept defeat. This people, who stick to liberty, has fought against ISIS not only for themselves but also for the peoples of the Middle East and the whole world. We hope the fight which began in 2014 brings freedom to the Kurdish people in 2015. We wish a happy new year to the resisting Kurdish people and all the peoples of the world.

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

YPG Chief Commander in Kobane Berxwedan: Kobane is Resisting for Humanity

Kobane_YPG

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

Thank you very much Mr. Berxwedan for making time to talk us under these extra-ordinary conditions of war. We wish to hear your thoughts, as the General Commander of YPG in Kobane on the ongoing war

Mahmud Berxwedan: Everyone is talking about a three-months old resistance in Kobane, in reality people of Kobane has been resisting aggression since July 19, 2013. We as the YPG organized our forces to protect our people, their values and way of life from aggressors. First we expelled Assad regime forces) with very limited means but full support of the people of Kobane. As first region to expel regime forces Kobane became a source of hope for people of Rojava and for all freedom seeking people of greater Middle East. Unfortunately in no time we become target for ISIS other Jihadist and various forces of Arab chauvinism. These Jihadist and chauvinist thugs, who have benefited from not even the most basics human values, have been attacking ever since. Our forces have been resisting these terrorist gangs in the east, west and south for more than one and a half year.

Mahmud Berxwedan
Top YPG General Mahmud Berxwedan, after so many sleepless nights

What about the current situation?

On September 15th, ISIS thugs have started the fiercest attacks ever. The attacks came from all fronts; they were better organized and better armed comparing to their advance in Shengal [Sinjar], Mosul and other Syrian territories. Many assumed that Kobane could only resist for about a week, but now nearly 100 days passed and we are confident of victory. The most important question is: Why did Kobane manage to resist for such a long time, while Mosul and Shengal fell only days after ISIS attacked?

How did a small place like Kobane resisted to ISIS while much bigger cities like Mosul and Raqqa fell to these terrorists even though they were protected by large and well-armed garrisons?

YPJ_Kob3

Mahmud Berxwedan: People of Kobane have always had the spirit of resistance; have been loyal to their lands since they came into existence. They have never surrendered; it has no place in their culture. Every warrior of YPG/YPJ said the terrorists can capture Kobane only by walking on the warriors dead bodies. The martyrs Erish, Zozan, Emin, Kendal and symbol of our resistance Arin Mikran are manifestations of this spirit of resistance. Let be frank, had it been anyone force other than warriors of YPG/YPJ, this battle would have been lost long time again given the imbalance of forces. Old the world, the Europe and the USA should know that we are fighting Jihadi terrorists with AK-47 light infantry weapons and or will power.

Some media claim the danger is over – as if Kobane was liberated from ISIS. Others say that ISIS reinforced their attacks on the eastern front. What about that?

It is not true that the danger is over. Clearly, IS won’t take over Kobane – but that doesn’t prevent them from trying to do so with all they have. We are in an urban warfare and there is a house-to-house fight. ISIS is using every trick on the books and all the means available to it to launch attacks. Kobane is being liberated one house and street at a time with our martyrs’ blood. Until this very day, ISIS thugs have sent 33 VBIEDs into the city. Every day, -there is suicide attacks carried out by ISIS mercenaries.

Common notion was that coalition jets and YPG have destroyed most of the ISIS’ tanks and heavy weaponry. How heavily armed are ISIS right now?

Kobane_Exp

Mahmud Berxwedan: ISIS is still in possessions of heavy weapons and tanks even though many of these have been destroyed by coalition airstrikes and YPG. They hide their weapons and wait for the most opportunities to attack, i.e. when there are no air raids, as it happened today.

ISIS claims they are in control of half the city. What portion of Kobane do you control?

Mahmud Berxwedan: As a person originally from Kobane, I can say that all strategic points in the city are under YPG/YPJ control. These include most of old city, city center, and border crossing. Helinch district that is downhill from Mishtenur Hill, only 40% of the eastern sector is controlled by ISIS,

Why are they particularly attacking on the eastern sector and what is keeping you from expelling them from eastern sector?

Mahmud Berxwedan: ISIS rotates its forces after very attack. They receive reinforcements from Raqqa, Tal Abyad, Manbij, and Sarrin without any hindrance. They are doing all they can to maintain a presence in the city Kobane.  They do not have the intensions to leave the city and end the invasion. It is important that coalition airstrikes support our troops but we are surrounded from all sides and we are fighting only with light weapons. We need weapons to fight but with exception of one-time airdrop no country has provided us with any weapons. What are all these countries that profess to be against ISIS are waiting for? Let it be known that we determined to fight ISIS everywhere and all the time.

YPG is being criticized for not communicating with world public opinion. For example it is being criticized for press releases mostly in Arabic rather than English. What do you have to say about it?

Mahmud Berxwedan: But is there someone that doesn’t know about Kobane right now? The whole world knows where we are and what our situation is. The whole world knows where YPG is fighting. Dozens of times, we have asked the international community to establish a humanitarian, safe corridor. As of now, civilians remaining in the outskirts of the city are not looked after. In 100 days only one single load of weapons has been delivered.

Well US led coalition air force has attacked ISIS positions daily. US also airdropped weapons to you although the guns may have come from Iraqi Kurdish depots.

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Mahmud Berxwedan: We are grateful for assistance rendered by the coalition and for all the support from people all over the world. We are honored to have sympathy and support of American people. We want all concerned to know that the weapons we possess are not nearly enough for dislodging ISIS and defeating. If we can get enough fire power we promise to finish off ISIS in Kobane within 2 days.

What does YPG need urgently, in military terms?

Mahmud Berxwedan: We need all kind of heavy weapons such as tanks, Hummers and bullet-proof vehicles and anti-tank missiles. If we had such heavy weapons we could liberate many villages in west and south Kobane in a short period of time.

Also, we desperately need sniper rifles, night vision goggles and thermal cameras. Even 50 night vision goggles will allow us to inflict heavy casualties on ISIS tugs as they mostly move at nights. Otherwise, our morale is high. Our warriors are not afraid of ISIS and ready to confront it at every opportunity.

Turkey has been criticized in regards to Kobane. It is said that they did not allow passage of Hummers and similar vehicles. How do you, as YPG, see Turkey’s attitude?

Mahmud Berxwedan: Turkey could play an important role in our fight against ISIS. We are neighbor with Turkey from Jazira to all the way to Afrin. We do not have any issue with Turkey and wish to have them as neighbor and good friend. We know Turkey has been criticized for her conduct; Turkey should revise her policies. We think she should play a positive role in the war against ISIS.  ISIS will surely target Turkey and cause her harm in the future. We always knew Turkey was turning a blind eye to ISIS and hoping that she would abandon those policies. We certainly hope and believe that Turkey will change her policies.

How are your relations with free Syrian Army (FSA) groupings and peshmerga forces of Kurdish Regional Government?

Ismett

Mahmud Berxwedan: We have relationships with and fighting alongside with select FSA groupings. Nearly 70 members of Shamsi Shimal, Siwar Raqqa ve Jabhat al Akrad groups died while fighting alongside with us in Kobane.  We wish to collaborate with these groups for a free Syria that encompasses all peoples. All these groups are complaining from lack of armaments. Aside from these, we have been collaborating with peshmerga forces, mostly on indirect-fire positions for more than two months. Our relations are cordial and professional.

Is it true that ISIS is tunneling under Kobane?

Mahmud Berxwedan: We have learned of this a while back. We don’t think such effort will get them any results. We know they are digging to minimize their losses from airstrikes. We have every precaution taken for such a thing.

YPG has become the most important force fighting ISIS on the ground. There are reportedly people from USA, Canada, Germany, Holland, Israel, Austria etc. who have joined YPG?

British YPG

Mahmud Berxwedan: ISIS is attacking and offending all good people of this planet. All progressive, democracy and freedom loving people are welcome to join us in this fight against ISIS. We will be honored to have them. We consider ISIS to be our enemies regardless of time and space. For us this is a matter of being a force for good. We don’t discriminate between people based on their creed or beliefs. We have in our ranks people from America, Europe, different Middle East countries, Iran and even from Argentina are fighting with us in and for Kobane. Our warriors will enthusiastically embrace any new fighters from around the world.

Activists around the world are asking via Twitter that what they could do for YPG?

Mahmud Berxwedan: Kobane is resisting for all humanity, YPG is fighting for all of the world. Everyone should do whatever they can to support us and Kobane. With this occasion, on behalf of YPG, YPJ and all others defending Kobane I wish Christian world a happy Christmas. We see Christmas as our own holiday also and celebrate it in that spirit. Jesus was a symbol of resistance. We wish all the people of the world a happy New Year.

Also, I want to emphasize that the war in Kobane is the war of honor for all Kurdish people. The Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan and beyond helped us in this war. We are grateful to all. Our special thanks goes to people of Suruç who have been with us from day one.

Thanks for @johannajaufer , @haktas12  and whoRtheKurds for translating this interview into English

PM of Kobane: A Humanitarian Corridor for Thousands of Civilians Urgently Needed

Enwo

Mr. Anwar Moslem, clashes in Kobane continue for over three months now. What is the latest situation in Kobane now, especially with regard to military developments?

ISIS has been attacking Kobane with heavy weapons for more than three months. YPG and YPJ forces have mounted a great resistance to these attacks. Recently, YPG and YPJ have advanced several streets further on the eastern front, and also made further advances on the southern front. However, the main problem on these fronts is the presence of a street fighting. The ISIS is already outside the city on the western front. Airstrikes of the coalition led by the U.S. are targeting the positions and munitions of the ISIS. We can say that defeating ISIS in Kobane will be a huge gain for the entire humanity. We want everyone to see this point very clearly.

Kobane will attain victory soon, and we truly believe this. However, there still remain some dangers, as there are thousands of civilians in Kobane, including children, who are facing great difficulties due to harsh winter conditions. We are once again calling on the international community to enable the opening of a humanitarian corridor into Kobane. This Tuesday’s mortar attacks by the ISIS have left three civilians martyred and dozens of others injured.

Kobane_Zar3

What do the civilians stranded in Kobane and on the border primarily need in the face of harsh winter conditions?

Three quarters of the Kobane city have turned into ruin as result of the attacks by the ISIS. The civilians in Kobane and on the border are mainly in need of clothing, food and beverage. They are also facing a great shortage of medicine. In addition, camps are needed to be built in order to provide shelter and a warm place for these people. This is also needed for thousands of people who will remain outside when they turn back once the resistance in Kobane ends up in victory.

Kobane_Zar2

Human rights defenders and international aid organizations need to extend a hand to these people whose houses have all been demolished. Since the day clashes broke out in Kobane, it has been only the municipalities, civilian aid organizations and the people of North Kurdistan [of Turkey] to look after the people of Kobane. Regardless of all the calls we have issued so far, I regret to tell that international organizations are yet to provide any help. The situation of the Kobane people in the city, on the border and in tent cities in Suruc is really heartbreaking.

Turkish government says it has provided great help to the Kobane people and opened its doors to them. You are, however, saying that it has been only the ‘municipalities in the north [of Kurdistan/Turkey’ to provide help?

Kobane_Zar

The statements by Turkey do really sadden us. We weren’t expecting Turkey to act like this. ISIS has recently attacked Kobane from the Mursitpinar Border Crossing on the Turkish side, but Turkey denied this. In relation with that attack, we asked politicians and civilians, from either inside or outside Turkey, to establish a commission of investigation, but Turkey remained silent.

Our people in refugee camps in Suruc are in a dire situation and children aren’t even allowed to receive education in their mother tongue. Turkey is always repeating the same thing, saying that ‘we have opened our doors’. After all, it is a humanitarian duty to open doors to these people who fled the massacres committed by the ISIS in Mosul, Tikrit and everywhere else. Apart from “opening its doors”, Turkey has provided no noticeable help, this is the truth. All human rights defenders, independent organizations and media workers can examine the situation in camps in Suruc in order to see and witness this truth themselves.

What would you like to say about the ISIS attack which left two civilians dead in Australia?

Terrorist actions do really hurt all humanity. Several years ago, thousands of innocent civilians were killed in September 11 terror attacks America. This was followed by similar incidents in France, Spain, Canada and most recently in Australia. The terror in Kobane is the same of the terror in these countries. We offer our condolences to the families of these people and the Australian government. The entire world needs to act together against this terror which is targeting the peoples and religions.

Ms. Hillary Clinton said in a most recent statement that the U.S. should provide assistance to the Kurdish female fighters of the YPJ, and spoke highly of them. What would you say in this regard?

YPJ_Kob4

From Kobane, we are sending our greetings to all the American people who have supported us. The statement of Ms. Hillary Clinton has honored us. We are once again extending our thanks to all the American authorities that have lent a helping hand to us. They also have a share in this resistance. The resistance of the YPJ in Kobane is the resistance of all the world’s women. Ms. Hillary Clinton does also have a share in this resistance for she has supported it. We hope that the whole world will in the same way support the YPG, the YPJ and Kobane. The victory in Kobane will be the victory of all the peoples standing against terror.

Kobane now is a place known by the whole world and people from across the world who want to provide help inquire about how to reach you. Is there a certain mechanism in place for people to assist you?

All three sides of Kobane have been surrounded by the ISIS and Turkey is on the other side. Turkey is just permitting the crossing of some wounded people and aid. We are facing some problems in this regard as we cannot move freely. A bank account belong to our administration will be opened soon to enable the people intending to help to reach us. It is not only the Kurdish people but everyone who believes in democracy, peace and humanity that should provide support to the civilians in Kobane.

The Christmas Day and the New Year is approaching. What is your message for the people whose hearts are with Kobane?

I celebrate the Christmas Day of the whole world. There were people who wanted to celebrate it here too but there is a war still going on, the ISIS has not allowed this. I hope 2015 will be a year of peace and fraternity. I wish a Happy New Year where there is no cruelty and all peoples and religions can live together and in peace. All those hearing our voice should support the resistance in Kobane in the New Year also, and provide any help they can for a new Kobane to be built in the wake of victory.

 

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

Kurdish Politician Isa: Kobane Is Fighting ISIS For the Whole World

Gêlo Îsa, 3rd from left
Gêlo Îsa, 3rd from left

Gelo Isa is a well-known politician and a senior official of the Kurdish Democratic Party (PDKS) in Kobane. He has been inside Kobane since the first day of the conflict and wounded seriously in the fight against ISIS. We wanted to get his perspective about the situation in Kobane.

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

Mr. Isa it has been left over a period of two months behind resistance against the ISIS in Kobane.  In the latest news the Kurds have been taken advantageous position. What can you tell us about the life in Kobane?

I can easily say that the advantage in conflict zone that the power into the hands of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).  They are able to do any action in all fronts.  YPG can easily repel any attacks, In case of any exceeding by the ISIS.  Kobane resistance has left two months behind it, as we observe ISIS has suffered a great loss of morale, they have disputes among themselves. On one hand YPG is attacking them. On the other hand peshmergas are attacking them with heavy artillery canons and weapons.  They are trying to get out of this the circle of fire that they got into. Recently in the eastern, western and southern front YPG took back many neighborhoods that were previously occupied by the ISIS.

You said that ISIS had fell into a circle of the fire.  You mentioned that the strong ISIS has strong morale loss. What happened, what has changed that the advantageous had passed into hands of YPG?

When ISIS was starting to attack it had a large number of militants and had heavy weapons.  During the remaining time that they had no more heavy weapons, thousands of its militants have been killed in Kobane. In this way they experience depression. When the fighter loses the morale in the battlefield, they cannot fight anyway. ISIS Emirates orders when they go anywhere, it had become accustomed to take that place or seize the place within a few hours under their control. They encounter the resistance from YPJ and YPG, previously beheading the children, burning houses with heavy weapons, were releasing fear and moving ahead. But they could not achieve in Kobane that what. That means the resistance in Kobane broke the morale of ISIS.

Today we have FSA groups among; dozens of them were martyred while fighting alongside YPG in Kobane. Again, when peshmerga forces became a part of resistance and the airstrike of the US led coalition has defied all their plans. Kurdish problem passed through Kobane and Rojava, the Syrian Kurdistan, and it has since become an international problem. All these elements have become a great morale for YPG in Kobane, and it put the ISIS to fall into a circle of fire.

Although it has lost so why ISIS still does not retreat? On what aims their insistence in Kobane, what do you think?

Villages outside Kobane, or Sirin, Jarablus, Manbij, Tal Abyad, in case of defeat, the emirs and the militants, their command orders and prınces title will be loosing. According to their war of this case, i.e. when an emir [prince] is defeated, that means he will lose “blessed virgins, concubines etc.”, and other privileges would not remain.  This is the main reason they are continue to fight despite they inflict very heavy loses.

A second thing that if the victory to be achieved against ISIS in Kobane is a victory for all Syrian land to be acquired. If ISIS defeated totally in Kobane, they will lose half of its power.  It’s very well known by everyone that ISIS has seized many territories in a short period of time without any serious losses. However, the resistance shown in Kobane by YPG would be an example for every city in Syria and Iraq after this time that ISIS is defeatable. That is the reason that ISIS fights until its last militant, and do not give up in Kobane.  But Kobane has entered in a new era. YPG fighters have slowly surrounded Kobane, both inside and outside the city, and cut he supply routes for ISIS. Reinforcements coming from neighboring ISIS cities will also be targeted by YPG and more of their fighters will be killed. In this way we are hoping to finish ISIS in Kobane and clean the city from them.

What percentage of the city estimated is currently under the ISIS hand?

A portion of about 20-25% of the currently under the control of ISIS, this part is in the section of the South east of Kobane.  If we will capture the Mishtenur Hill completely, less than 10% of the area will remain under the control of ISIS, Mishtenur Hill has a strategic importance; it oversees the entire Kobane. When we will be able to get the other side of Kobane, we will be able to drive ISIS away from Kobane.

We as the people of Kobane thank to freedom and peace defenders all over the world, to the United States of America and other countries in the coalition. We also thank to the 42 countries and their people the rallies held and people walk for Kobane and YPG.

Every country of human rights defenders, every civil society organizations, every human rights organization should support us because Kobane is fighting for the whole world. The success to be obtained in Kobane against the terror would be the success of the all countries that are fighting against the terrorism as terrorism does not recognize the boundaries.

Kobane Defense Chief Hasan: We Want Turkey to Change Its Faulty Attitude Towards Us

Defense Minister of Kobane Canton Ismet Hasan (3rd on the right) with peshmerga commanders and YPG fighters

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

Interview conducted on November 6, 2014

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Mr. Hasan, we are informed that the clashes continue at the eastern front, shelling and mortar attacks at the western front. Can you update us about the recent situation?

As you also now, it has been 54 days that Kobane has demonstrated a historical resistance. ISIS is bombing our citizens waiting at the border in the western front and also at the Tilsahr Hill. The clashes have not stopped since the first day at the eastern front. They try to recruit forces from surrounding cities and continue attacking us. As long as Kobane is surrounded by attacks from all three fronts, it is always going to be dangerous for Kobane. Since the winter came, people at the front lines are having many difficulties.

You stated that ISIS attacks with bombs. The coalition was assuming that it destroyed most of the heavy weaponry of ISIS, is that not true? Do they continue to attack you and civilians comfortably because they still have a big amount of weaponry?

They have mortars such as the M57s, they have a tank in industrial zone and they are using it heavily. When airstrike starts, they hide those and when it stops, they take them out again and attack.

Ismet_Hasan

You mentioned about cold weather, what are the needs of people between Suruc and Kobane, and at the border, what can be done for those?

These civilians are under terrible conditions. There is no house or tent that they can stay in. They sleep outside. There are many women and children. We try to at least provide them with basic needs such as food, but it has become a huge challenge for us as the weather is getting colder. This is a very serious problem that needs urgent attention. Also, there are some civilians still in the city and they cannot go out because of continuous attacks and shelling.

Firstly, we want a safe corridor for these civilians. Secondly, today a group of young men and women wanted to come to Kobane to support us from the other side of the border. However, because of the attacks by Turkish soldiers, a young woman lost her life and a few got injured. We are going through a very though time. People who had crossed the border to Turkey are being shot when they want to come back to support their city. We want them to allow our people to cross the borders.

How do you interpret the attitude of Turkey in this regard?

Turkey has a faulty attitude towards us and we want it to change. We are not fighting against Turkey; we are fighting against the terrorist group ISIS that does not only target Kurds, but the whole world. If they attack us here today, they are going to attack Turkey tomorrow. They have organized crimes in many cities and killed many civilians. For instance, in Iraq, they killed about 400 people from a tribe. Turkey needs to reanalyze its politics and alter them. We are neighbor with Turkey and as Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and as Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ); we are fighting against a terrorist group, ISIS. Even if Turkey does not provide any support, it should stop to interfere and attack our people so we can carry out a more efficient resistance.

The world media is watching you closely and writing very positively about you. There were protests in all over the world a few days ago. What do you want to say about this?

This is very important for us. We want to thank all those who support us. We will never forget the airstrike support of America and international coalition. Turkey is out neighbor and they should have reacted accordingly, but what can we say. The support from people of different countries in the same date has increased our morale. Today, when YPG and YPJ fight against terrorism, they do not do this only to support Kobane or Kurdish people, but for the people of the world.

We are talking about a terrorist organization that has carried attacks in many European countries including Spain and France, and we still remember September 11 attack. They have one hand in Baghdad and one in Lebanon, one other in Raqqa and nobody dared to resist against this group, but us. ISIS took control of Mosul, which has a population of 4 million, within a few hours, the same is true for Raqqa and Manbij, however, even though they surrounded Kobane, they were not able to win and therefore, they are fighting us wholeheartedly. For this reason, we need the support of international community and we send our greetings to those who already did so.

You said that ISIS attacks with all its strength; can you say that new forces arrive in the last days?

According to information provided to us, additional forces are joining them from Talabyad, Raqqa, Manbij and Jarablus. As we understand from the radio, a lot of their members are coming from Afghanistan.

Some media sources claimed that YPG retook some villages from them. However, YPG sources disputed this, what is the issue here?

No, there is not any village that we retook now. Yesterday, 9 ISIS members were killed in the conflict that emerged in Ebruşk village.  We just got Tilsahr back, but nowhere else. However, our forces go to the villages and attack ISIS. For instance, they attacked ISIS in Karamox, which is about 20 km from here, but they withdrew. It is true that we advanced a little bit in the city, but there is not any village that we saved yet.

What is the role of peshmergas, what are you going to tell about them?

It is a very positive thing. 150 people may not be a big as a support materially, but they are a big support morally.  It is an honor for us that peshmergas came from the southern Kurdistan to here for us. Kurds are being slaughtered every few years. We want Kobane to be the last one. A national army should be established and Kurds need to defend themselves.

Are peshmergas fighting only at the western front or at all fronts?

Not only at the western front, but anywhere we need them most to work with heavy weaponry. They work with 57’s, mortars, Katyushas, whichever is needed in whichever front.

I want to ask about Abdul Jabbar Akidi’s group. Are they also fighting actively and supporting YPG? It is speculated that some left the group. Is that true?

Previously, some groups named “Euphrates Volcano” from Free Syrian Army (FSA) were with us. It has been 8-10 months we have been fighting together and they lost a lot of martyrs. Lastly, a group of 50 from Akidi came to Kobane, but we did not really want them. Instead, since ISIS are in many other areas in Jarablus, Azaz and many other Syrian cities, we wanted them to collaborate with Kurds from Afrin or other areas and do something in those areas. However, they refused it saying that they do not have the power to do so, but instead wanted to come to Kobane to fight. We want an egalitarian, democratic Syria where everybody has a say and for this reason we accepted them. While they throw mortars, they are not actively fighting yet. I do not know, but 9-10 of them went back. But as I said we have our doors open to everyone, who wants to support this mission.

You see YPG and YPJ fighters and peshmergas while you go through the war fronts. How is their morale in general?

YPG, YPJ, and peshmerge forces are fighting together. This is a very crucial thing for us morally and our morale is very high because of this. We are hopeful that we will achieve significant results in a short time.

We want to thank again to the United States, Europe and the coalition for their support. As long as they support us in our struggle, our resistance will prevail. They need to know that Kurdish people are brave. We will continue resisting and they should keep in mind that their support is very crucial for us and for our resistance against ISIS.

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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

You can follow me on Twitter for latest updates from Kobani  https://twitter.com/mutludc

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Thanks for Demet Arpacik for translating this interview from Kurdish into English