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YPJ Commander Engizek Khalil: In Raqqa We are Fighting for the Honor of all Women

YPJ Commander Engizek Khalil
YPJ Commander Engizek Khalil

Along with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the female fighters of the Women’s Protection Units have joined the Raqqa operation and are fighting on the front-line in order to rescue the women taken by ISIS. Pointing out that ISIS are still selling women like goods on the market, Engizek Khalil, one of the Women’s Protection Units’ commanders, said,

‘It’s not only Kurdish and Ezidi women they are fighting for, but for the honour of all the women of the world.’

Responding to claims that civilians have been wounded in the operation, Khalil replied,

‘We are not going into Raqqa to hurt civilians. We are there to save them from persecution’

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Mutlu Civiroglu @mutludc

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First of all I want to say thanks to you, Khalil, for making time for us in the middle of the battle in Raqqa. The operation inside the city of Raqqa has been going on for about a month now – what’s the situation on the front right now?

Engizek Khalil: The People’s Protection Units (YPG), Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and some groups of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have been engaged in the joint Raqqa operation for a month now. The liberation of Raqqa has a very special meaning for women, because it’s in this city, which ISIS have declared as their capital, that they are trading women and selling them like goods. I can say that at the moment almost half of Raqqa has been liberated as a result of our operation. Our morale is really high, despite the fact that our progress has been equalled by difficulties.

What kind of difficulties?

Engizek Khalil: One of the difficulties is that ISIS have left bombs with drones. Inside the city, there are a lot of vehicles packed with bombs and ready to be exploded. The streets are full of tunnels so that they can come up from behind and attack. As well as that, mines have been laid at nearly every house in Raqqa. It takes times to deal with these things and advance. Whenever ISIS are forced to leave a city, they decimate it. That’s pretty much the situation here.

Human rights groups say that large numbers of civilians are being killed during the operations. General Stephan Townsend, one of the commanders of the coalition against ISIS, said that every care is being taken to protect civilians during the operations. How do you try to protect civilians?

Engizek Khalil: In a war environment, unfortunately there is a possibility that civilians will be killed. But we do everything we can to protect them. When we reach civilians inside Raqqa, we immediately remove them to safe areas. ISIS are using civilians as a human shield in order to prevent our advance. A lot of our colleagues have been wounded when trying to protect civilians. If you can’t protect civilians, there’s no point in going into the city. We are not going into Raqqa to hurt civilians. We are going to save them from persecution. It’s not true that large numbers of civilians have been killed during the operations. The coalition is making a huge effort to protect civilians from harm.

You said that the liberation of Raqqa has a special meaning for women. The women fighting in Raqqa are much talked about around the world. As a female commander, how do you feel to be fighting against ISIS in a city where women have been subjected to such horrific abuse?

Engizek Khalil: The women taken from Shingal as slaves were sold in Raqqa like goods. During the operations, we’ve rescued a lot of Ezidi women from ISIS and reunited them with their families. This gives a very special feeling of vengeance. This vengeance is for all the women of the world, not just Kurdish and Ezidi women; because all over the world women are victims of slavery. In the Women’s Protection Units, we are women from different ethnicities, including Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians, and we want to show that women can fight for freedom everywhere and in every way. When we’re fighting against ISIS, we always advance to the sound of our ululations and it terrifies the ISIS fighters.

According to the media, a group of Ezidi women came to Raqqa from Shingal [Sinjar] to fight against ISIS. Can you say something about them?

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Engizek Khalil: The support of our female comrades from Shingal has been a great morale booster. These women have taken up positions in the front-line against ISIS. They say they will stay fighting in Raqqa until they have achieved retribution for all the Ezidi women. As members of the Women’s Protection Units, we all stand together in the fight against ISIS.

When ISIS surrounded Kobane, it terrified the whole world. But they were defeated in Kobane and from then on they lost their momentum. Now you are advancing right in the heart of ISIS and have rescued half the city. So what will bring the end of ISIS and what shape will the struggle of the YPJ take after this?

Engizek Khalil: Along with some of the countries that are working with them, ISIS surrounded Kobane with the aim of finishing off the Kurds. It’s not wrong to say that Kobane had a braking effect on ISIS. There were only two streets in Kobane that didn’t fall. Through the struggle of our comrades like Arin Mirxan, who we will never forget, a brake was put on ISIS. We’ll fight against ISIS anywhere in the world we need to, not just in Kobane. Two years ago, the Women’s Protection Units were fighting against ISIS in Kobane and today we are fighting in Raqqa. The wave of fear that ISIS spread has been halted and now everyone can see that.

 

*Translated into English by Paula Darwish http://countryandeastern.net/

 

 

Mahmud Berxwedan: Türkiye Afrin’e Operasyon Düzenlerse Büyük Bataklığa Saplanır

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YPG Afrin Genel Komutanı Mahmud Berxwedan ile Türkiye basınında çıkan Afrin’e karşı olası bir operasyonu ve YPG’nin hazırlıklarını ve böylesi bir operasyonun bölgeye ve Rakka operasyonuna etkilerini konuştuk

Mutlu Çiviroğlu  @mutludc

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Sayın Mahmud Berxwedan, Türkiye medyasında çıkan haberlere göre Türk ordusu ve desteklediği gruplar Afrin’e geniş çaplı bir operasyon hazırlığındalar. YPG komutanı olarak çıkan bu haberleri nasıl değerlendiriyorsunuz? Afrin’de son durum nedir?

Mahmud Berxwedan: Türkler, Erdoğan’a bağlı medya, uzun bir süredir Şehba ve Afrin ile ilgili asılsız haber hazırlıyorlar. Gerçekleri tümden çarpıtıyorlar. Başta herkes bilmelidir ki Türk devleti işgalcidir; Cerbalus’tan Bab’a, Ezaz’a kadar Suriye topraklarını işgal etmiştir. Bu bölgede radikal İslamcı grupları ve diğer terör örgütlerini de destekliyor ki bu da açık bir şekilde görülüyor. Bütün bu terör örgütleri Türkiye’den Suriye’ye geldiler ve Türkiye üzerinden Avrupa’ya gittiler. Şu an Türkiye’nin desteklediği grupların komutanlarının çoğu eskiden DAIŞ komutanıydılar. Bütün dünya biliyor ki bunlar aynı zamanda Türkiye’de eğitim görmüş kişiler. Bu gerçeğin üzerini örtbas etmeye çalışarak teröre karşı mücadele eden bizleri, dünya kamuoyuna terör örgütü olarak göstermeye çalışıyorlar.

Peki, Afrin’de YPG tarafından Türkiye’ye karşı idia edildiği gibi bir tehdit söz konusu mu?

Mahmud Berxwedan: Geçen altı yıllık süre zarfında Türk devleti ile aramızdaki sınırda herhangi bir sorun yaşanmadı. Şimdiye kadar tarafımızdan tek bir kurşun bile Türkiye topraklarına gitmemiştir. Fakat öte taraftan, Türk devleti sürekli olarak Afrin köylerini bombalayarak bu toprakları işgal etmeye çalışıyor. Birçok defa da sivillerimiz, arkadaşlarımız yaralanmış ve şehit düşmüştür.

Fakat Türk devleti her defasında YPG’nin başta saldırdığını ve ordunun da cevap verdiğini söylüyor. Önceki gün, Reuters’ın Türk ordusu kaynaklarına dayanarak verdiği habere göre de sizin saldırınıza cevap verilmiş?

Mahmud Berxwedan: Tam aksine, Türk devleti gerçekleri çarpıtıyor. Özel savaş konsepti ile doğruları tersyüz ediyor. Dünya kamuoyu biliyor ki başta Türk ordusu toplarla saldırıyor. Qestel’den Hizwan’a kadar, Şehba bölgelsinde köyler de dahil hep Türk devletinin saldırılarına maruz kalıyorlar.

Türk ordusu ve desteklediği gruplar Şehba bölgesini sözde terörden kurtarmak amacıyla operasyonlar düzenlediğini söylüyorlar. Bu köylerin birçoğu DAIŞ ve diğer radikal İslamcı grupların elindeydi fakat özgürleştirildi ve şimdi oranın köylüleri orada yaşıyor. Türk ordusunun saldırdığı yerlere insanlar korkup gidemiyor. Kefirna, Kefirnask, Tilrefat gibi yerlere insanlar dönmüş ama. O taraflarda yaşayan insalar Arap ve kendi köylerini koruyorlar. Yani başka herhangi kimse oraya gitmemiş.

Afrin bölgesi kamuoyunun da bildiği gibi 6 yıldır en huzurlu bölge. Bu bölgenin insanları kendileri topraklarını koruyorlar, dışardan kimse gelmiş değil. Türk devleti PKK ve terör bahanesiyle buraya saldırmak istiyor fakat asıl terör olarak Türkiye burayı işgal etmiş durumda.

Türkiye’nin tutumu dışında, bölgedeki diğer iki gücün, Amerika ve Rusya’nın tutumunu da sormak istiyorum.Bahsettiğiniz saldırılara karşı Rusya nasıl bir tepki gösteriyor? Amerika Roajva ve Suriye’de YPG ve HSD’yi destekliyor. Kobani Savaşı sırasında siz YPG’nin ordaki genel komutanıydız ve Amerika sizi destekliyordu. Sizce Amerika Afrin’deki YPG’yi Cezire ve Kobani’deki YPG’den ayrı olarak mı görüyor?

Mahmud Berxwendan: Evet, Kobani Direnişi sırasında oradaydım ve şimdi de Afrin’deyim. Bizim için ikisi de bir.

Hem Rusya hem de Amerika, Türk devletinin ne yapmak istediğini biliyor. Suriye şimdi tam olarak bir menfaatler alanı. Bizim hedefimiz, ister Cezire bölgesinde olsun ister Afrin’de, Suriye’de terörü bitirmek. Biz altı yıldır burada DAIŞ ve diğer terör örgütlerine karşı savaşıyoruz, binlerce şehit verdik. Teröre karşı mücadelemizde kim bizi desteklerse onlarla beraber yürürüz, bu Amerika da olabilir Rusya da. Her iki devletin de teröre karşı destekleri oldu.

Türkiye’nin Afrin’e operasyon gerçekleştirmesi durumunda neler yaparsınız, herhangi bir hazırlığınız var mı? Ve böyle bir saldırı Rakka operasyonunu nasıl etkiler?

Mahmud Berxwedan: Türk devleti şu an Afrin bölgesi üzerine planlar kuruyor. Şüphesiz operasyonun gerçekleşmesi bütün taraflar için tehlikeli bir durum yaratır. Bu müdahele başta Rakka operasyonu etkiler. Çünkü Afrin ve Şehba bölgesi bizim için stratejiktir ve kimsi bu bölgenin Cerablus ve Bab gibi olduğunu düşünmesin.

Türk devleti eğer buraya bir operasyon düzenlerse, hem siyasi hem de askeri olarak büyük bir bataklığa saplanır. Türk devletine karşı büyük bir direnişin gerçekleşeceğini herkes bilsin. Yediden yetmişe bütün Afrin halkı direnişe katılır ve topraklarını Türk devletine bırakmaz.

Yıllardır Afrin halkı ile birlikte yaşayan Ezaz halkına ve sıkıştığında Afrin’in yardımına koştuğu Mera halkına selenmek istiyorum: Türk devletinin oyunlarına kanmasınlar ki onlar yıllardır bölge halkı arasında düşmanlık yaymaya çalışıyorlar. Türk devleti bölgede Kürtler ve Araplar arasında savaş çıkarmaya çalışıyor, bunu iyi görmeliler.

 

Berxwedan of YPG: Turkey Will Be Plunged into a Swamp if Tries to Occupy Afrin

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YPG Commander Mahmud Berxwedan, Canton PM Anwar Moslem, Photo (Mislim Nebo)

Mutlu Civirglu @Mutludc

YPG General Commander in Afrin region Mahmud Berxwedan responds to our questions regarding latest developments in Afrin region and reports about the Turkish media on a possible Turkish operation against Afrin.

Mr. Berxwedan, in the past several days there have been many reports published by Turkish media saying that the Turkish army and their supported militants are preparing a large-scale operation against Afrin, as a commander of the YPG, how do you see these reports? What is the current situation in Afrin?

Firstly, I extend my greetings to the listeners of the VOA Kurdish, anyone who hears our voice we greet them from Afrin. It is critical for us to share the realities in Afrin with the world outside. The Turkish govt controlled media have been spreading misinformation in the form of military psychological warfare for a long time, especially Erdogan supporting channels, spreading many groundless news regarding Afrin to undermine the reality in the region.

First thing for us to know is that Turkey is an occupying state, it has occupied parts of Syrian soil. From Jarabulus to Al-Bab, and towards Azaz, it has occupied Syrian territory in an action like the occupation of Liwa Iskandaroun. Turkey at the same time supports radical Islamist terrorist groups in Syria, and everyone knows this now. All of the terrorist groups came into Syria through Turkey. Conversely, all radical groups went to Europe through Turkey. The world knows about all this very well.

Now Turkey is making safe havens for the Ikhwans [Muslim Brotherhood groups], groups that most of their commanders were earlier working with Daesh [Islamic State] – their training bases are in Turkey, again openly, in defiance of world opinion. But now Turkey tries to fabricate these realities, while Turkey itself trained and backed these terrorist groups they now attempt to portray the revolutionary people of Afrin, those who are only defending their lands, as terrorists – this is formally deceiving the public opinion.

Is there a threat from Turkey towards YPG in Afrin?

From our side in six years there has not been one problem on our Afrin borders with Turkey. We have fired not one single bullet towards Turkey. The Turkish state however, is always violating the borders, occupying parts of Afrin soil, built walls along the border and repetitively shelled Afrin villages; causing many deaths and injuries.

But Turkey always claims that you [YPG] are attacking, and they are responding – most recently two days ago in a report by the Reuters, they said the YPG attacked and they repelled.

This is completely false. The reality is unlike how they falsely claim, as I said the Turkish state fabricates the facts on the ground using their special psychological warfare. People see on the ground that Turkey carries out attacks and shells the region – all Afrin villages from Qastal to Hizwan areas as well as Shahba villages are being targeted by Turkey.

The excuse Turkey gives for its occupation was to support radical groups against another terrorist group, for example the ones in Tal Rifat [east Afrin], which was liberated later on. Local people want to return back to their homes but Turkish shelling does not allow them to do so, however where Turkish shelling is comparatively mild, there are many who have been inhabited, for example Kafir Nayem, Kafir Nasih, and also Til Rifat despite Turkish shelling. People who are defending those areas are local to the areas, including Arab components from Jaish Al-Thuwar [Army of the Revolutionaries].

And regarding Afrin, for the past six years, it has been the most secure and peaceful place in all Syria, having a self-administration with local defense forces. With all this being said, Turkey tries to distort and portray a purposefully fabricated picture, claiming that ‘there is PKK there,’ ‘there are terrorists who have occupied the region’ – but in reality, the Turkish state has brazenly occupied parts of Syria, itself is an occupying force yet it tries to show the world a fabricated image. The people in defense positions are all native to Afrin, protecting their lands.

I would like to know about the two main forces in Syria, the US and Russia – if we start with Russia, what is their approach towards Turkish preparations, and speaking about the US, although there are collaboration with the YPG and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – and you yourself were the chief YPG commander during Kobane Resistance – does the US works differently with the YPG in Kobane and Jazira with the YPG in Afrin?

That is right, I was a part of YPG command in Kobane, and now I am in Afrin, the two are the parts of the same YPG.

Both the US and Russia know about the reality of Turkish activities; they also know what Turkey want to create, but Syria now has turned into an area of different competing interests. Despite that, our objective is to clear Syria from terrorist groups, be it in Jazira region or in Afrin region, and since the initiative of our forces, we have fought terrorism, Daesh or other groups; many lives have been sacrificed for this purpose. In our fight against terrorism, whoever stands along us, we will also remain true to them, the US or Russia – and we have the two countries support in both sides of the Euphrates, we would welcome their support in the future.

My last question is, if there was an attack on Afrin, what would be your response? What are your preparations? And how would a situation like that affect the ongoing Raqqa operation?

Turkey is preparing a plot for the region in general, without knowing that it would put everyone in danger, it would impact everything specifically the Raqqa campaign – Shahba and Afrin regions are strategically important for us. Such an attack by Turkey will influence forces that are present in the region, the Russians, for instance.

On the ground, Shahba and Afrin have a different situation than other areas, they are not like Jarabulus that Turkey can easily occupy. Turkey will be plunged into a swamp, politically and militarily – there will be an historical resistance against Turkish occupation in Afrin and Shahba regions. The people of Afrin along their military forces will defend themselves against such attempts.

I would also like to call on the people of Azaz who have long lived alongside the people of Afrin, and the people of Mare who in difficult times, Afrin and Shahba have supported them, to not allow occupying Turkey plans to sow hostility among peoples of the region – everyone must learn of these plans of the Turkish state.

 

*Translated into English by www.YPGRojava.com/en

Trump’ın kararı Kürtler için başarı, Türkiye için hayal kırıklığı oldu

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Mutlu Çiviroğlu @mutludc Mayıs 11 207

ABD Başkanı Trump’ın Türkiye’ye rağmen YPG’yi doğrudan silahlandırma kararı, Türkiye’nin Obama sonrası yeni yönetimden YPG’nin dışlanması beklentisinin gerçeklerle örtüşmediğini bir kez daha ortaya koydu. Özellikle 16 Nisan’daki referandumdan sonra iç siyasette eli daha fazla güçlenen Türkiye Cumhurbaşkanı Erdoğan açısından hem uluslararası alanda hem de iç kamuoyu nezdinde büyük bir hayal kırıklığı olduğunu söylemek mümkün.

Trump’ın başkan seçilmesinden sonra oldukça dikkatli bir üslup kullanan AKP sözcüleri ve Erdoğan, 16 Mayıs’taki Washington ziyareti öncesi epey umutlanmıştı. Ortadoğu’da bütün politikalarını Rojava karşıtı bir yelpazede sürdüren Türkiye yönetimi, Rakka Operasyonu’nda YPG’yi devre dışı bırakmak için ABD yönetimi nezdinde tüm kozlarını devreye koymasına rağmen, Erdoğan’ın Salı günü yapacağı Washington ziyareti öncesi, yakın tarihte ABD – Türkiye ilişkileri bağlamında en büyük hayal kırıklıklarından birini yaşadı.

Peki, ABD yönetimi NATO üyesi olan bir müttefikini neden bu denli hayal kırıklığına uğrattı? Bu sorunun elbette birçok yanıtı var ancak en önemli yanıtı, Trump yönetiminin YPG dışında bir gücün İŞİD’i sahada yenemeyecek olmasına kanı getirmesinden başka bir şey değil. Bundan dolayı, ABD tarafından direkt olarak YPG’ye ağır silah yardımı yapılıyor.

Washington’un bu kararı pek de sürpriz sayılmaz. Hatta karar sonrası açıklama yapan çok sayıda saygın Suriye ve Ortadoğu uzmanı da YPG’nin ve geniş anlamda DSG’nin IŞİD’e karşı elde ettiği büyük başarılara dem vurarak, Trump yönetiminin bu kararını haklı ve doğru bir karar olarak değerlendirdi.

YPG’ye silah yardımı kararının verilmemesi için Türkiye son dönemlerde önemli girişimlerde bulunuyordu. Erdoğan adına ABD’ye çıkarma yapan üst düzey yöneticiler Washington’da YPG’ye silah yardımını engellemeye çalıştılar ancak başarılı olamadılar. Önümüzdeki hafta ise Sayın Erdogan Washington’u bizzat ziyaret ederek bu kararın geri alınmasını talep edecek.

Aslında bazı siyasi gözlemciler, YPG’ye silah verme kararının Trump ve Erdoğan görüşmesinden sonra duyurulmasını bekliyordu. Ancak, ABD yönetimi Erdoğan’ın Washington ziyaretine günler kala YPG’ye silah yardımını duyurarak hem uluslararası gözlemcileri şaşırttı hem de salı günkü zirvede YPG ile Türkiye arasında bir tercihe zorlanmaması yönünde Türkiye yönetimine açıktan bir cevap verdi.

Şu sıralar Washington’da gündem Erdoğan’ın Trump ile ziyaretinde neler konuşacağı tartışması. Çünkü, Erdoğan Beyaz Saray’da YPG karşıtı taleplere masaya oturmaya hazırlanırken, YPG’ye silah yardımı kararıyla ziyaretin en önemli sebeplerinden biri de ortadan kalkmış oldu. Bu karar sadece YPG’ye silah gönderme meselesi olarak değerlendirilmemeli. YPG ve DSG resmiyette IŞİD’e karşı Amerika’nın ortağı oldular. Daha önce fiili bir ortaklık vardı zaten ama artık resmi ve YPG’yi daha önemli bir aktör haline getiriyor.

Bu bağlamda, bu son karar ile Türkiye’nin YPG’yi çeşitli argümanlarla “terörist” olarak nitelemesinin hiçbir karşılığı kalmıyor. Kaldı ki, Türkiye’nin asıl hedefi silah yardımın engellemekten ziyade YPG’nin Amerika’nın resmi siyasetinde aktör olmasını engellemekti. Daha önceki fiili ortaklığın dayanağı Pentagon’du. ABD’li üst düzey askeri yetkililer ise her defasında YPG’ye ve YPJ’ye büyük hayranlık duyduklarını belirten açıklamalar yapıyordu. Pentagon’dan sonra artık şimdi Beyaz Saray da Kürtler’le ittifaka açıktan destek vermiş oldu çünkü karar imza atan kişi ABD Başkanı Donald Trump’ın kendisi.

ABD’nin dış siyaseti Dışişleri Bakanlığı, Beyaz Saray ve Pentagon üzerinden şekilleniyor. Dışişleri Bakanlığı genel olarak Kürtlere mesafeli duruyor. Başkan Trump’un kararından sonra Dışişleri Bakanlığının tutumunda da olumlu değişiklikler olabilir. Bu konuda Rojava’daki Kürt siyasetçilerine de önemli diplomatik vazifeler düşüyor. Bu yardımı iyi bir fırsat olarak değerlendirerek ilişkileri daha da geliştirebilirler.

Washington’da siyaset ve think-tank çevrelerinde ve kamuoyunda YPG’ye silah yardımı kararı konusunda genel anlamda memnuniyet var. Uzun bir süredir YPG’ye ağır silah yardımının yapılması bekleniyordu ve bu karar Rojava Kürtleri ve tüm Kürtler için de önemli bir karar. Zira, YPG, uluslararası arenada Kürtler için bir marka. Kürtler bunu iyi görmeli ve ona göre siyaset geliştirmeli.

YPG’ye yardım kararının duyurulmasının zamanlaması da oldukça dikkat çekici. Türkiye heyetinin Washington’da olduğu sırada böyle bir açıklamanın yapılması Türkiye’ye açıktan bir mesaj aynı zamanda. Amerika ve Türkiye NATO müttefikleri olmalarına rağmen Washington, Türkiye’nin YPG’ye karşı Qereçox’daki saldırısından ciddi derecede rahatsızlık duymuştu. Bu silah yardımı da Türkiye’ye bir cevap olarak görülebilir. Be nedenle, ABD yönetiminin tepkisini bu şekilde dile getirmiş olduğunu söylemek pek abartılı olmaz. Zaten Türkiye’nin Qereçox saldırısından sonra ABD’li NATO komutanı Ankara’ya gitmişti. YPG ile olan ilişkiler genel olarak CENTCOM ve Koalisyon perspektifi üzerinden şekillenirken, o saldırından sonra NATO komutanı Ankara’ya gitmişti ve Amerika’nın tepkisini direkt olarak Türkiye’ye iletmişti.

Tüm bunları birleştirdiğimizde, ABD’nin, TSK’nın YPG’ye yönelik saldırılarından ciddi derecede rahatsız olduğunu söylemek mümkün. Ayrıca, Türkiye’nin YPG’ye karşı geliştirmeye çalıştığı argümanları bu gelişmelerden sonra daha da önemsiz hale geldi. TSK’nın, YPG’ye saldırmasından sonra Amerikan askerlerinin Rojava sınırına yerleştirilmesi de zaten başlı başına bir mesaj içeriyordu.

Bu kararla birlikte Pentagon da YPG ile olan ilişkilerinde daha büyük bir özgüvenle harekete edecek, çünkü Trump’ın silah yardımı kararı aslında Pentagon’un sahadaki varlığına tam bir destek anlamına geliyor. Bu karar Kürtler açısından aynı zamanda IŞİD’ê karşı savaşta yeni bir zafer anlamı da taşıyor.

YPG Genel Komutanı Sipan Hemo ile Suriye Demokratik Ordusu, Amerika’nın Silah Yardımı ve Amnesty Raporu Üzerine

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YPG komutanı Sipan Hemo ile Suriye Demokratik Ordusu, Amerika’nın silah yardımı ve Amnesty raporu vb güncel konular üzerine görüştük

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Mutlu Çiviroğlu @mutludc

Rusya’nın Suriye savaşına dahil olması dengeleri ve aktörleri değiştirdi. Bu biraz hızlı gelişti. Bu değişimler yerde de görülüyor. Öyle ki Hama ve Idlib çevresinde büyük saldırı ve şiddetli savaşlar başladı. Rejim güçleri Rus savaş uçakları tarafından kapsamaya alındı. Halep çevresinde ise IŞİD güçlerinin bu durumdan yaralanıp Özgür Suriye Ordusu ve İslamcı gruplar karşısında ilerlemesi ve alanlarını genişletmesi söz konusu. Topraklarını kaybetmekle karşı karşıya kalan İslamist gruplar moralmen bir çöküş yaşıyor. Kaybettikleri alanları geri alıp almayacakları ise belli değil. Ama kesin ve net olan tek şey Rus müdahalesi sayesinde muhalif güçlerin büyük bir darbeye uğradığı ve IŞİD güçlerinin ilerlediği ve birçok köyü aldığı.

Sizin de bildiğiniz gibi bizim güçlerimiz, son iki ay içerisinde aralarında Ahrar-aş Şam ve Nusra da olmak üzere, bazı radikal gruplar ile çatışma içindeydi. Bu yeni durum dengeleri değiştirdiği için, bize olan saldırıların azalmasına neden oldu. Fakat biz bu durumdan yararlanmayacağız çünkü muhalif güçlerin zemin kaybedip zayıflamasını istemiyoruz.

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Bizim adımıza birçok iddia ortaya atıldı. Birçok kez gazeteciler hangi tarafta olduğumuzu sordu misal. Buna yine ve yeniden açıklık getirmek istiyorum, Suriye devriminin başından bu yana biz hiç bir şekilde taraf tutmadık. Biz hep kendi duruşumuzu sergiledik. Biz bunu üçüncü yol olarak adlandırdık. Ve bu yolu sadece kendi tarafında varlık gösteren bir güç olarak formüle ettik. Bizim kendi çözüm ve projelerimiz var. Bundan ziyade bizim IŞİD güçlerine karşı sürdürdüğümüz savaş Amerika öncülüğündeki koalisyon güçleri ile aramızda ilişki ve işbirliğine yol açtı. Ve tabi ki geçmişte etkili bir işbirliği yaptık onlarla.

Elbette müdahaleler olursa da, Suriye halkı suçlu değil. Bu savaş uluslararası bölge ve güçlerin çıkarları ile yön alır oldu ne yazık ki. Sorumlu olanlar onlar. Hem uluslararası güçler hem de Türkiye, Sudi Arabistan, Katar ve İran gibi ülkeler sorumlu. Onlar Suriyelilerin kanlarını döktüler. Bu kanı durdurmak ve Suriye‘de demokrasinin ilerlemesi için bütün güçlerin bu sorumluluğu üstlenmesi lazım. Bizim kiminle çalıştığımız sorulacak olursa, net bir şekilde koalisyon güçleri ile beraber bir sene boyunca IŞİD’e karşı savaştık diyebilirim. Ve işbirliğimiz gittikçe ilerledi.

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Suriye Demokratik Ordusuna havadan yapılan silah desteği önemli ama sahada stratejik kazanımlar elde etmeye yeterli değil. Biz yine de çok önemsedik tabi. YPG olarak önemli bu bizim için. Bu yardım ve işbirliği bir yıl boyunca yeni bir seviyeye ulaşmamıza neden oldu. Ve bu işbirliğini arttırıp birlikte daha da stratejik işbirliği içinde çalışmak istiyoruz. Aldığımız destek çok büyük değildi fakat yeni bir başlangıç için büyüktü elbet.

Suriye Demokratik Ordusunun yapısı yol verdiği sürece bize öncülük vermelerini umuyoruz. YPG haliyle önemli bir rol oynayacaktır. Biz uzun zamandır IŞİD’e karşı mücadele ediyoruz. Sizin de bildiğiniz gibi Suriye’de bir sürü grup kuruldu. Ve IŞİD tarafından yenilgiye uğradı. Özgür Suriye Ordusu, diğer İslamcı gruplar, hepsi yenildi. Sonuç olarak eğit-donat programları istedikleri gibi gitmedi. Öte Handan YPG başarılı olduğunu kanıtladı. Bilindiği gibi IŞİD’e karşı savaşan başka gruplarda oldu ama başarıları sınırlı kaldı. Suriye’nin zorlu döneminden geçerken biz bazı gruplarla birbirimize destek verip el ele beraber daha büyük olan yeni bir güç kurduk. Bu gücün içinde yer alanların Suriye demokrasisinde önemli bir rol oynaması lazımdı. Bu yeni Suriye Demokratik Ordusu Suriye’nin bütün topluluklarını içinde barındırıyor. Kürtler, Araplar, Süryaniler, Türkmenlerin ve daha niceleri var içinde. Önümüzdeki günlerde buna ilişkin bir basın açıklaması yapılacak zaten. Umuyoruz bu yeni güç yeni bir başlangıç yeni bir aşama olur. Suriye demokrasisine Suriye’ye güveni olan herkesi Suriye Demokratik Ordusuna katılmaya çağırıyoruz. Ancak bu şekilde IŞİD gibi güçlere karşı koyup rahat ve huzurlu bir ülke verebiliriz Suriyelilere.

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Medyada Rakka ve Cerablus hakkında birçok şey yazıldı. Askeri planlarımız var bununla ilgili fakat gizli kalmasından yanayız. YPG genel komutanı olarak size bunları ifşa etmem elbette. Fırsatlar doğrultusunda hareket ediyoruz. Siyasetçiler bir sonraki adamımız/yönümüz hakkında spekülasyonlarda bulunuyorlar lakin biz yerde askeri perspektiften bakıldığında fırsatlarımıza göre hareket ediyoruz. Ne planladığımız,  amacımız belli zaten; IŞİD’i yenilgiye uğratmak. Nerde ne zaman ve nasıl saldırmamız gerektiği tamamen yerdeki koşullara bağlı.

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Uluslararası Af Örgütü’nün raporunu gördük. Raporun içeriği ve yazılış şekli çok düşündürücü. Suriye Demokratik Ordusunu kurduğumuz ve birlikte daha güçlü bir şekilde IŞİD’e karşı savaşmaya karar aldığımız bu günlerde böylesi bir raporun yayımlanması şüphe uyandırıyor. Koalisyon güçlerinin bize ciddi bir destek verdiği bir dönemde açıklandı bu rapor. Tesadüf olduğunu söylemek zor bu durumda.

Biz uluslararası topluluklar ve Amerika’ya bu raporu ciddiye almamalarını söyledik zaten. Çünkü yazılanlar doğru değil. Daha öncede olduğu gibi bağımsız grup veya kişilerin gelip burada olan bitenleri kendi gözleriyle görmeye çağırıyoruz.

Açık olarak 1500 Arap köyünü kurtardığımızı söylememe izin verin. Bu köylerden bazıları IŞİD ile bizim aramızda savaş bölgeleri oldular. Bu köylerde savaş günlerce sürdü ve bu köyler zarar görmedi diyemem. Bahsini geçen bu köylerin sayısı beşi geçmez. 1500 Arap köyü kurtardık ve şuan o köylerde insanlar barış içinde yaşıyor. Eğer raporda yayınlananlar gerçekse o zaman bu 1500 köy niye hala var? Bunun dışında Baas rejiminin Rojava’da Kürt topraklarına yerleştirdiği Araplar da var. Cizre’de yönetim içinde yer alan ve saygı duyulan Araplar da var aynı zamanda. Eğer niyetimiz Arapları sürgün etmek olsaydı, onlardan başlardık. IŞİD’in yenilgiye uğradığına tahammül etmeyenler böylesi raporlar yayımlarlar ancak, çünkü biz IŞİD’i yenilgiye uğratıyoruz. Ve bütün dünya bu terörist grup karşısında elde ettiğimiz etki ve başarıyı görüyor. Rojava bölgesini özgürleştirme girişimlerimizle de kendimizi kanıtladık.

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YPG’nin % 30’u Araplardan oluşmakta olduğuna da dikkat çekmek istiyorum. Raporun içeriği doğru ise, bu bahsi geçen Araplarında bu söz konusu zulümlere maruz kalmış olması gerekmiyor mu? Bu söylentiler doğru olsaydı bu kişiler hala bizimle Cizre ve Kobani’de omuz omuza mücadele edebilir miydi? Biz bu tür raporların sadece bizi karalamak için yayımlandığını düşünüyoruz. Bu tür raporların arkasında Suriye Ulusal Koalisyonu ve onların arkasındaki güçlerin olduğunu düşünüyoruz. Çünkü Til Abyad’ı özgürleştirmemizi hala hazmetmiş değiller. Bu yüzden böylesi söylentileri yayıyorlar. Ama biz her şekilde tüm karalamalara rağmen Suriye’deki demokrasi mücadelemize devam edeceğiz. Ve her hesaba karşı açığız. İnsan haklarına saygı duyuyoruz. İsteyen bütün bağımsız kişi ve gruplar gelip araştırma yapabilirler burada. Biz 1500 Arap köyü özgürleştirdik, bu raporda bize teşekkür edilmeliydi. Biz sürü insanın hayatını kurtardık. Biz Şengali ve bir sürü Ezidi kadınlarını kurtardık. Bu raporun amacı başka. Dediğim gibi bizim güçlerimiz burada, herkes gelip araştırabilir ve buradaki Arap ve Türkmenlerlede görüşebilirler.

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Söyleşiyi Türkçe’ye çeviren Fatoş Koyuncuer’e ( https://twitter.com/fkoyuncuer ) teşekkürler

YPG General Commander Hemo on Syrian Democratic Force, US Weapons & Amnesty Report

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Mutlu Civiroglu @mutludc

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In an exclusive interview, Sipan Hemo, General Commander of the YPG comments on variety of issues. Below are the large summary of his remarks:

After the Russian intervention the balance of power has changed, actors have changed. This happened a bit quickly. The change is also reflected on the ground. Large assaults and fierce battles are now taking place around Hama and Idlib. Regime forces are being air covered by Russian warplanes. And around Aleppo, ISIS is taking the advantage and making territorial progress against so called moderate Islamist factions or FSA brigades. So these Islamist forces are now face to face with a breakdown in terms of morale, as they are losing territory. It is not clear whether they can recover or completely be defeated. It is clear though that opposition forces have now unfortunately received a huge blow by this Russian intervention and ISIS’s taking advantage of it around Aleppo. ISIS is capturing more villages as I speak to you in those areas.

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Our units, as you know, have actually been, for the last two months, in conflict with some Islamist factions including Ahrar-ash Sham and Jabhat al Nusra. But the new situation has led to a declination of these forces that have been attacking us. However, we are not willing to take advantage of this situation because we do not wish to see the opposition forces get weaker or lose more ground.

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In fact, there have been claims made in our name. Many times, journalists ask what side we are on. I want to make this clear that from the very start of the Syrian revolution we didn’t want to take sides with anyone. We have a stance of our own. We name this as the third road. We formulated this idea as being on our own side. We have our own solutions and projects to propose. Secondly, our war against ISIS bought about a new situation. It has enabled relations and cooperation with the US-led coalition. And for the last past we are effectively cooperating with the Coalition.

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When it comes to interventions, I can tell that people of Syria is not to be blamed. Unfortunately the war going on in Syria is about the international and regional powers’ interests. They are responsible. Both global powers and regional states like Turkey, Saudi, Qatar and Iran are responsible. They shed Syrian blood. So in response to this question I say, to stop the bloodshed and for the advancement of democracy in Syria, all powers should share responsibility. When asked whom we work with, I say it clearly, we have been fighting ISIS officially in cooperation with the coalition for a year. And our work together has made even more progress.

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The number of weapons airdropped to SDF was a limited. It was not an amount that can make a big strategic differences on the ground. But we see this as very important. It is important to us as YPG. Because with this new support, the cooperation we have had for a year has reached a new level. And we hope to increase our work together even more, we hope to work strategically. So what we received was not big. But it is big for a new start.

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As far as the structure of the SFD concerned, we hope that YPG spearhead that assault. YPG has a significant role to play. It is a long time that we have been fighting ISIS. In Syria, as you know, many factions have been formed. And they have been defeated in the face of ISIS. FSA, some other Islamist groups, etc. have been defeated. So at the end, the train & equip program too didn’t work. But on the other hand YPG has proven to be successful. Yes there were other groups fighting ISIS but with little success. So at a time when Syria was passing through most turbulent times, we got closer to some groups to form a new force, a bigger one, one that can serve all Syrians that can play a role for democracy in Syria. So this new force, Syrian Democratic Forces include all communities of Syria. It includes Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Turkomens and… in the coming days there will be a declaration in front of the press. We hope this becomes a new start, a new step. At the same time we call upon everyone who believes in democracy for Syria, who believes in Syrian nation, to join SDF for the sake of democracy and to stand against and fight extremist forces like ISIS and give a calm country back to Syrians.

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The media and journalists write many things about Raqqa and Jarablus. We have military plans, and these plans are confidential. As the general commander of YPG, I can’t disclose them to you. On the grounds, when opportunities arise, we act accordingly. Politicians may speculate about where next we should go, but from military perspective, we on the ground act according to chances we have. So what we plan, we have revealed before, we will fight ISIS. Where the attack and when to launch these attacks depend on the circumstances on the ground…

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We saw the report of the Amnesty International. I can tell you that the timing and wording of this report is a bit suspicious. At a time when we are forming a new alliance with Syrian pro-democracy forces, and getting ready to wage a big war against ISIS this report is released. Report comes right after the coalition forces are giving us a significant aid. Hard to think it is all a matter of coincidence.

We call on the international community and the United States as well not to take this report serious. Because this is not what is happening on the ground. But again we are officially calling on independent bodies to come and see what is going on the ground.

Now, let me be clear; we have liberated some 1500 Arab villages. Some of this villages became war zones between us and ISIS. Battles took days in some villages. I am not saying there has been no harm to those villages. But they are not more than 4 or 5 villages. We have 1500 Arab villages liberated and people in them live in peace now. If it was true, why are these 1500 villages still standing? Apart from that, there are Arabs who were brought to Rojava by the Baathist regime and settled throughout the Kurds’ lands. These Arabs too in Jazira are leading respected lives. If we had an intention of driving Arabs away, we would have driven those Arabs first. I think whoever is discontent with ISIS defeats has some share in this report because we have success against ISIS. And all the world sees our effectiveness and success over this terrorist group. We have proved in practice, in liberating Rojava regions too.

One more point, 30% of YPG made up of Arabs. If allegation in the report were true did these Arabs with us committed those atrocities too? If such things were true, would they fight alongside us in Jazira and Kobane? We believe such reports want to harm our image. In our opinion, Syrian National Coalition and forces behind it has a lot to do with this. Because, at the start, for example, they couldn’t digest our liberation of Tal Abyad. So they have been spreading such rumors on purpose. But we will continue our struggle for democracy in Syria in the face of all accusations, off all such things they want to square us with. And we are open to accountability. We are respectful to human rights. Any independent body can come and investigate. We are liberating 1500 Arab villages, this report should have thanked us. We have liberated so many people. We liberated Shengal [Sinjar] and many Yezidi women. There are other interests in this report. Our units are here, anyone can come and investigate and talk to Arabs and Turkomens as well.

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Translated from Kurdish into English by Ê Din

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

Polat Can of YPG on November 1, World Kobane Day

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Mutlu Civiroglu @mutludc

On November 1, protests in support of Kobane will be staged all over the world. How do you view these global efforts and support for Kobane as the spokesperson for YPG?  

On behalf of all our fighters, friends and commanders, we salute everyone who has expressed their friendship to us in a democratic and peaceful manner. We will never forget their goodwill and heartfelt support.

Today, Kobane is able to stand for two reasons: the first is the heroic resistance of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighters, and the second is the support pouring from all corners of the globe. Such conscious, democratic and peaceful efforts have motivated the international coalition against ISIS to help the Kurds, and significantly contributing to improvement of the situation on the ground.

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We would like these efforts to expand further. Kobane is no longer an issue for Kurds, Syria or Kurdistan, but it also belongs to the whole world. It is an expression of democratic and peaceful existence.

YPG is not a force made up of only Kurds. We have popular support from all ethnicities in the region, including Syriacs, Arabs, Chechen and Turcomans. We even have fighters from many other nations in our ranks, including those from the USA and Netherlands. We want their efforts to be recognized as well.

We want November 1st to be the day the world showed its ownership of Kobane, and for the resulting activism to be a success for the whole world. Today, those who fall in Kobane are YPG fighters, and we want the world to recognize this by carrying YPG flags and banners.

YPG Spokesman Can: We are Working with the Coalition against ISIS

Polat Can

In an exclusive interview with the daily Radikal, Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Spokesperson Polat Can says they are officially working with the International Coalition against ISIS, and their representative is in the Joint Operation Command Center.

Mutlu Civiroglu @mutludc

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Mr. Polat Can, you have been leading a fierce struggle against ISIS in Kobane for almost month. The world is watching Kobane. What is the situation there?

In the morning, the Kobane resistance will be on its 30th day and a new, long-winded process will start. Everyone knows that the resistance that YPG put up against ISIS is unprecedented by the forces in the region, especially in comparison to the Iraqi army.  Cities ten times the size of Kobane surrendered to ISIS in a few days and those cities were not even besieged with considerable force. However, when they started attacking Kobane, they gathered their forces from around the region, from places including Minbij, Raqqah, Jarabulus, and Tal Hamis. What I mean by considerable force is tanks, cannons, heavy artillery and thugs whose numbers were in the tens of thousands. They wanted to capture Kobane within a week, but they did not succeed. Then, they wanted to say their Eid prayers in Kobane, and they could not do that either.

Since last week, they seized some streets in East Kobane, and now they want to capture the whole city, but they can’t advance. As they try to make their way, they sustain considerable losses. Especially within the last few days, both YPG attacks and the air strikes against ISIS terror led by international coalition forces have increased. They sustained major losses, many of their bodies and weapons passed into the hands of the YPG.

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Mutlu Civiroglu and Polat Can

So, can we say that Kobane is relatively safe from danger?

No, saying this would be major heedlessness. Because ISIS still controls a large portion of Kobane. In addition, all of the villages in Kobane are occupied by ISIS.  The resistance we started both within and around Kobane is ongoing. ISIS continues to receive renewed assistance. This war is a matter of life and death for us in every way. Thus, it is not yet possible to say that there is no danger.

You are saying that ISIS consists of tens of thousands of people and constantly renewed support. Your numbers are very small in comparison. Do you receive any kind of support?

Kobane has been under an embargo for the last year and a half. None of the major forces from other cantons have been able to reach Kobane. Kobane is resisting with its own efforts. Some Kurdish youth have been able to reach Kobane from the north of Kurdistan, especially through Suruç. Some arrived Kobane in small groups from the cantons of Afrin and Jazira. In addition, some of the youth from Kobane who were living abroad came to Kobane to protect their city. Some of the small groups from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are here under the name of “The Volcano of Euphrates.” This is all of our power and support. Unfortunately, we did not receive any additional military support, neither from the South, nor from other places.

Mistenur

What can you tell us about the air strikes by the coalition led by the United States?

For the last few days, the air strikes have been numerous and effective. We can clearly state that, had these attacks started a couple weeks ago, ISIS would not have been able to enter Kobane at all. ISIS would have been defeated 10-15 kilometers away from the city, and the city would not have turned into a war zone.

Alright, why did effective air strikes start one week before, and not two? Or, to ask in another way; What happened over the course of the last week that the strikes intensified?

The YPG’s relationship with the coalition, then, had just started recently. I will be blunt; some regional powers, especially Turkey was a serious obstacle. They made every effort to prevent any help from reaching us and to prevent the air strikes. At first, coalition jets could get no closer than 10 kilometers to the Turkish border, because Turkey would not allow it. Of course, there were other problems as well such as logistics and distance. The coalition had not yet made a serious decision to help the YPG.

Moreover, everyone thought that Kobane would fall in a week or two and be forgotten easily, but that did not happen. Kurds all around the world and their friends have risen up, supported by calls by world-famous intellectuals, and the resultant public opinion. This situation has affected shift on some countries’ policies towards us and created pressure for more effective and intensified air strikes and assistance for the YPG.

What sort of help? There are calls to provide arms to the YPG, has any such assistance been provided?

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Up until now, we really can’t speak of the provision of arms to Kobane. The YPG is trying to bring certain arms which we require to Kobane through certain means. Because we are in serious need of arms. Not only for Kobane, but also for Jazira and Afrin. It’s important that we have fighters that come and fight, but it’s equally important that there be arms for them to use. It’s very difficult to fight using light weaponry against ISIS, who possess heavy weaponry. In the current situation, under such circumstances, we are throwing ourselves heroically in a fight against a force utilizing the latest weapons technology.

You mentioned the coalition’s being late. What sort of relationship does the YPG have with the US and other countries in the coalition? Can you elaborate on this?

Long before the Kobane resistance, we had relations with many countries including the USA. When Kobane was attacked, our relationship became more substantial and our exchange of ideas was realized in practice. In a way, urgent situation on the ground expedited some things. True partnership comes to realization when the situation is difficult and parties support each other.

Can we say there is an official relation between the YPG and the coalition?

Yes, we are acting in concert with international coalition forces. We are in direct contact with them, in terms of intelligence, on a military level, and in terms of air strikes.

I guess the coordinates for the airstrikes are coming from you then?

Yes. One of our special units in Kobane gives us coordinates, and the YPG transmits these coordinates to coalition forces, and then air strikes are directly realized. I would also like to mention that we also benefitted from the assistance of certain Kurdish factions, and this assistance is ongoing.

Some media outlets reported that these airstrikes are carried out through peshmergas?

No. We have a direct relation with the coalition without any intermediaries. YPG representative is physically ready in the joint operation command center and transmits the coordinates. Indeed, no airstrikes would be possible militarily without YPG taking part in the process because the clashes are ongoing  and the situation on the ground changes rapidly.

But, I would like to acknowledge efforts of some Kurdish parties and individuals in regard, and their assistance for the YPG is still onging.

For a while, news agencies from around the world have been discussing the fall of Kobane. In fact, last week, some of them announced that the city fell. However, now the American press has started to applaud the resistance by the YPG, comparing it to the famous Alamo resistance. What is your take on American and other peoples’ support for Kobane?

We have 5-6 American fighters in YPG. One of them was wounded during combat. The fact that they are fighting for us is making us proud. There are fighters from other peoples as well. We are thankful for all the people who have been appealing to their politicians on our behalf to get their attention, to help us.

Especially some European armies and their commanders are working vigorously towards providing help to the YPG. Yes, right now YPG is fighting against ISIS, but in reality this fight belongs to the whole world; the world should fight ISIS. The fighters of ISIS are from 81 different countries which will be responsible for the terror that ISIS will unleash on us. Therefore, everyone should take responsibility. If Kobane falls, a possibility we never consider, ISIS will attack many other territories motivated with the fervent of so-called conquest. Hence, the victory of Kobane resistance means a victory for Kurdistan, coalition forces, USA and for every human being with a conscience.

The global public was first introduced to the YPG during the Sinjar Massacres against Yezidi Kurds. Now, the whole world is talking about the outstanding resistance of the YPG in Kobane. Can we consider the YPG as one of the main actors in the war against ISIS?

Kurds are the strongest people fighting on earth today, be it YPG or the Peshmergas, it is the Kurds! There is of course a surprising element to this: a relatively small number of young people, equipped with light arms, stage an unprecedented resistance against heavy weaponry. I state this cut and dried; if there was any army of even 500 thousand soldiers in our place, they wouldn’t be able to resist, even for one week. We don’t possess one thousandth of the resources and arms that those who lost to ISIS in Mosul, Tikrit and Anbar had. But we have a will and we have faith, and we protect our lands. This is why the coalition forces must consider YPG as one of the main actors in this war. Many high ranking officials of the coalition forces have congratulated us and expressed their admiration for our struggle.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to say to the whole world which has been watching you with admiration?

We respectfully salute all the peoples of the world who support the YPG, Kobane and the Kurds. We promise to millions of Kurds and the friends of the Kurds who can’t sleep, whose hearts beat for us this: We will fight until the last person falls, until our last bullet, our last drop of blood, and we will win this fight. We will embellish this resistance worthy of the Kurdish people with victory and dedicate it to first to the proud Kurdish people and to all the peoples of the world. The resistance against Nazis in Stalingrd and in Alamo is what is repeating in Kobane. We invite everyone to support Kobane, the YPG and Kurdistan until the day of victory.

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If you want 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 Kobane  https://twitter.com/mutludc

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Special Thanks to Cagla O, Dilek U and Cihan T for translating this interview into English in such a short period of time.

Interview with YPG Spokesman Polat Can about Yezidi People in Sinjar

 We discussed the latest conditions in Sinjar with the Spokesman of YPG Forces in Sinjar Polat Can and some media reports that the YPG hindered a US military operation.

Polat Cano

Mr. Can, what are the conditions like in Sinjar? What happened to the Yezidis that were left behind?

The latest situation in Sinjar is as you know it, and the clashes taking place in the Rabia area are continuing. Up to this point we did not allow ISIS to capture Rabia. The real aim of the fight we’ve put up in Sinjar , Rabia and Sinun is to defend the people that are trapped in the Sinjar area, and to protect and rescue them of course.

We are putting up a great resistance in Rabia and Sinun, these two areas are two important central points.

Especially Rabia, it is a strategically central location because its ‘gates’ open right in-between Sinjar and Rojava, and in the same way it can also lead to South Kurdistan. In order to complete their encirclement of Sinjar, ISIS is attempting to seize Rabia. This way they want to cut-off Sinjar’s communication from the rest of the world and completely detach her from Kurdistan. Many large scale clashes took place and a lot of ISIS members were killed. Some of our friends were martyred. There are still violent clashes in the Sinun region. If you ask why Sinun and Rabia are such important zones, its because the security corridor that the YPG established is right here in between Sinjar and Rojava . Because of this, ISIS are attacking here with all their forces and want to take this area under their control. However, with the resistance we have started this month and which we are continuing, we would like to hold on to these places.

YPG Spokesman Polat Can and Peshmerga Commanders in Rabia, Mosul

If we want to address the Sinjar region, it was as the United Kurdish Forces Hezen Hevbeş yên Kurdistani (HHK) that we made a statement. I want to highlight this. The Sinjar Mountain is completely under the control of the United Kurdish Forces.

“FOR NOW, THERE ARE NO KURDISH CIVILIANS IN DANGER ON THE SINJAR MOUNTAIN”

These United Kurdish Forces, who are they, who do they consist off?

YPG, HPG, Yekineyen Berxwedana Şengale (Şengal Resistance Units) and a small part our Peshmerga brothers. These forces are fighting in coordination together and have complete control over the Sinjar area. All the Yezidis that had fled or were in hiding have been reached. Some of them have crossed over to Rojava.

Our forces moved to Mount Sinjar soon after the arrival of civilians fleeing ISIS. Later on, PKK fighters coming from Qandil Mountains also joined us. We escorted Yazidi Kurds down from the mountain and into safety in Rojava. With the help of the YPG, United Kurdish Forces and the Jazira Canton, more than 220,000 Yezidis have crossed over to Rojava, some have decided to cross over to South [Iraqi] Kurdistan from Feshkhabur via this safe passage we provided. Some 30,000 Yazidi Kurds are still in Rojava, and half of them are staying in Newroz Camp in Derik which was prepared by the local Kurdish administration, some others in cities like Amude and Tirbesipi. Presently we are not aware of any Kurds that are in danger on Mount Sinjar.

“SOME HAVE JOINED ISIS FROM THE IRAQI ARMY”

As the YPG, what do you think has made ISIS so effective? Specialists are claiming that ISIS does not have many supporters, so how does such a group organise large scale and simultaneous attacks?

Let’s put it this way, some Iraqi soldiers, especially Sunni ones, all work for ISIS. We want this to be known. The recent attacks on Sinjar was not only by ISIS, but also by Arabs from the villages neighbouring Sinjar. Many Arabs in Sinjar that were claiming to be the “friends of Kurds” are taking part in these attacks. The Arabs in these areas who are supposedly the neighbours and relatives of Kurds, are now joining ISIS. Those who were promoting Arab chauvinism are fighting in Mosul and Tikrit today against the Kurds, and they are increasing in numbers. Especially those who joined from the Iraqi army, their membership meant new weapons for ISIS, and naturally, this made them stronger.

Furthermore, because ISIS believe looting to be halal, those who joined them did so with the excuse that they were attacking the properties of infidels, but they stole the property and assets of our people.

As you know,  US announced that there was no need for a rescue mission. According to your sources, how many people are stranded on the mountains and in what condition are they?

The Kurds who are on the mountain are the Kurds who have refused to leave Sinjar. ISIS wasn’t able to enter every village and some of the ones they did manage to enter, we took back in a day. The holy places of the Yezidi people are also under our control; like holy Grave of Sharfaddin. This place is also a target for ISIS however, until now we have not allowed them to get close. Kurds in these villages and the ones currently staying on the security corridor have not left. It is not possible for me to give you an exact number but a large majority of these people are still here.

“THERE ARE KURDS WHO HAVE BEEN CAUGHT IN BETWEEN THIS CONFLICT. WE NEED A SAFETY OPERATION FOR THEM”

How do you evaluate the announcements made by the US administration? And I would like to ask you this, was there any agreements made between your forces and the US forces and was there any co-ordinated joint efforts?

On August 12, we announced the same thing as the Pentagon; that the Kurds in Sinjar Mountain were safe. I would also like to make it known that, according to the information we have received, there are some villages which fall to the south of Sinjar that has been caught in between this war. We also have some people who have fallen into the hands of ISIS, and some who have been kidnapped and are being held hostage. If a military operation is needed, then I believe it should be for these Kurds.

There is news that the village of Kocho is under siege and that the people are being forced to convert to Islam, is this true?

Yes, this is true. These villages exist and they are situated towards the south of Sinjar City. The people that reached the Sinjar Mountain are good, they are in areas we control and free from ISIS. But water, food, medicine and other human necessities you can imagine are needed. Whoever wants to leave can do so with the help of United Kurdish Forces or the Jazira Canton Officials. We help them cross to Rojava or South Kurdistan. For this we requested international support and aid. We also asked the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government for help in providing aid for these people. We requested doctors, we also requested for the wounded and the ill to be transferred and treated. I will repeat it again, we need humanitarian support.

“WE HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UK AND THE USA”

I would like to ask you about your relationship with the USA. According to reports by some newspapers, the YPG hindered the US forces which caused altercations between YPG and the US, but then tensions were eased by the intervention of the Peshmerga. What actually happened?

It’s a complete lie and has been fabricated to create propaganda as no such thing occurred. We have a good relationship with both the US and the UK. Infact, with our help on the ground their helicopters delivered a lot of aid. We do not need to mention names of the officials that we are meeting, but there is no problem between us. All news in regards to this has no basis.

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For feedback, question and interview requests: mciviroglu@gmail.com or +1202-241-0506