Are the British YPG Fighters Really Mercenaries?

British YPG

The Observer published a story on British YPG fighters James Hughes and Jamie Read, describing them as “mercenaries”.

I answered BBC’s questions on this issue and objected the idea to show British and other Westerner YPG fighters as “mercenaries”



This is the link of the story “UK ‘mercenaries’ fighting Islamic State terrorist forces in Syria”

In Day 50, A Synopsis of the Situation in Kobane


Mutlu Civiroglu

According to military, political and civilian sources in Kobane, in the day 50 of the resistance,  YPG has been gaining a momentum after successfully repelling strong ISIS attacks in eastern front which aimed at seizing the border crossing. Despite excessive man power and close combat in eastern front, YPG forces did not allow ISIS to advance.

With recent offensive in eastern front, ISIS hoped to seize the border gate to Turkey to totally suffocate the city and force YPG to surrender. Senior YPG sources report ISIS resorted to more than 20 car bombs in recent days, and all of these attacks were thwarted successfully with only some light YPG injuries.

One other reason for the recent ISIS attack on east was to prevent arrival of the Iraqi Kurdish peshmergas and heavy weaponry they brought along. As of November 3, the situation in eastern front is stable and ISIS members were further driven out from the border area. Kobane sources report that the failure of recent ISIS push caused demoralization of ISIS, and killing of 3 princes in last 48 further even worsened the situation on the ground.

On Sunday night clashes continued in East and South with some YPG advance reported. In Western front Kurdish peshermergas first time actively involved in a major assault. In this front YPG, “Euphrates Volcano” and Peshmerga forces carry out attack against ISIS positions in Abrus, Albalur and Minaz villages.

YPG Kobane

One other note is that US led coalition airstrikes have been playing a major role in destroying heavy ISIS weaponry which caused serious damages and destroyed many houses in the city. Sources in Kobane add that ISIS shelling decreased thanks to successful airstrikes.

However, it is still too early to conclude that the danger is over and ISIS is defeated. It is not secret that ISIS has made Kobane a matter of honor and will not give up easily. Therefore, despite recent major setbacks, ISIS forces in Kobane still receive reinforcements from Raqqa and surrounding cities, and some field commanders were replaced with new ones.

It is also reported that the arrival of peshmergas has brought a positive atmosphere for the Kurds and considerably lifted the spirit of YPG fighters on the frontline as well as the civilians in the city.


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Defense Chief Of Kobane Asks for Weapons from US

In a phone conversation at 9pm local time, Kobane Defense Minister Ismet Hasan says YPG forces are in control 70% of the city.


Hasan said YPG forces inflicted heavy loses to ISIS but they are receiving reinforcements from Aleppo, Raqqa and other surrounding towns.

Hasan reiterated that they have been resisting the ISIS with light weapons for 26 days, and they urgently needed heavy weapons.

“If the U.S. can provide us weapons that are capable of eliminating their heavy weapons, like tanks and artillery, and continue air strikes against the ISIS, we are confident we will be able to kick them out of Kobane”.

Hasan added that people of Kobane and the YPG fighters are determined to fight until the end.


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Premier of Kobane Anwar Moslem: The Fall of Kobane Would Be the Fall of Humanity


Anwar Moslem on the right with dark shirt

In an exclusive interview conducted on Wednesday, Ovober 8, 20014, the Premier of local Kurdish Kobane Canton administration Anwar Moslem provides important update about Kobane and ongoing ISIS attacks against the city.

Mutlu Civiroglu


Mr. Moslem, what’s the current situation in Kobane?

ISIS hasn’t withdrawn yet. ISIS is still in the eastern, southeastern and southern [parts of the town. They are a little away from the western section. Clashes continue so far. Fierce ffightings are taking place. They aim for a massacre. There are thousands of civilians here; children, women and elderly. As the resistance is in its 24th day, they want to crush it spitefully with all the civilians as well. The fact is there is heroic resistance here by Kurdish Protection Units (YPG). American and coalition air strikes are very welcome here by our forces and the Canton administration.

Tell me about the civilians inside Kobane. There are reports that all civilians left the city?

Claims that there are no civilians in Kobane are false. Nobody can, nobody dares to get out of their homes as there are fierce clashes and flying bullets everywhere. There are thousands of civilians under the ISIS threat. Some are here in the city; some others are close to the border. Their situation is getting worse and dangerous. Some media say Kobane is empty. It’s not true. There are civilians even in the villages ISIS has overrun. Their situation too is dangerous. I repeat that there are civilians in the town. I can’t give you an exact number, but there are thousands of civilians here. If the media wants we can provide pictures and interviews with civilians. Our main purpose in calling the international community is protecting these civilians, children and women.

American and coalition air strikes have had effective results in the last two days. When jets strike civilians in the city cheer up. They salute American jets. Defense Ministry of the Kobane administration said, in a statement, that our YPG forces and the coalition partners can root out ISIS from the Middle East.

You mentioned airstrikes. How effective are today’s air strikes?

They are effective today as well. But we cannot know how much exactly. As the fighting rages on we can’t determine the effect. We are in touch with our forces who witness air strikes. But they are usually busy in fighting ISIS militants. We don’t want to keep them busy, so we avoid calling them frequently.

The jets carry out a good mission, especially for the well-being of civilians. That’s why the continuation of air strikes in Kobane against ISIS is important. The destruction of ISIS’s tanks, Humvees and other heavy vehicles is of utmost importance. Today they carried out a car bomb attack. That’s why American, British, French and all other coalition partner’s jets should continue targeting ISIS in Kobane Canton. ISIS receives reinforcement from Tal Abyad and Raqqah. The coalition partners should be tracking them better. They must stop them. So that we can finish them off inside Kobane and save the civilians.

Some media reports claim these airstrikes are useless. Are they?

No, they are pretty effective in last two days. As the head of the Canton Administration, I recognize the fact that they are helpful and effective. ISIS militants are using artillery they brought from Mosul, and it is used against the civilians as well. So why should the coalition stop the bombardment? The coalition is saving these civilians and the canton. So be it known by all sides that YPG on the ground with the American and coalition jets overhead can fight ISIS off.

Is YPG capable of expelling ISIS from Kobane?

Yes, as long as their artillery, vehicles and tanks are destroyed, new reinforcements are cut off; we don’t have anti-tank weaponry by the way, our forces can finish them off. YPG has promised to annihilate those thugs.

What about YPG loses and injuries? How many ISIS fighters were killed?

YPG and Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) are the sons and daughters of this people. Most of these fighters are in their twenties. They fight against ISIS looters, thieves whose aim is destruction.


Arin Mirkan

ISIS commits inhuman actions; they behead even our girls. YPG and YPJ are fighting against such a cruel terrorist group.

A young Kurdish woman Arin Mirkan who was a YPJ commander chose to detonate herself among a group of ISIS members. Rather than surrendering to ISIS, she chose sacrificing her life such in such heroic way.

But, we are hopeful that our forces with the help of the coalition partners can fight ISIS till they are annihilated, and we can rebuild peace and stability once more.

What about the reaction of people around the globe to your case? American people are deeply concerned that the Kobane will fall. Similarly people in other corner of the world have similar concerns for you.


The memory of 9/11 is with us. We especially want to reach out to the American people and their government. We know their suffering too. We remember terrorist attacks against civilians in Spain, France and elsewhere. We are aware of what happened innocent journalists and aid workers at terrorists’ hands.

We, as the administration of Kobane Canton, call upon all sides to challenge the threat together as to create security. We believe in support of the American people and people all over the world.

I would like to tank all human rights defenders in becoming a voice for the voiceless Kobane. I am very grateful on behalf of the people of Kobane. I want everyone to know that fall of Kobane would be the fall of humanity. I therefore appeal everyone to stand up for Kobane and stand with us in these very difficult days.



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This interview was translated from Kurdish into English by Ê Din

Coalition Airstrikes in Kobane Helping Kurds


In an over-the-phone interview, Defense Minister of Kobane Canton Ismet Hasan says the coalition airstrikes on Tuesday were pretty effective and caused some damage on ISIS.

“ISIS is a threat not only for Kobane and the Kurds, but also for a treat against all humanity. Coalition airstrikes and our fight on the ground is a strong cooperation against ISIS threat, and we are optimistic that it will bring positive outcomes.”

Hasan says although they don’t know the exact damage of the airstrikes, they could determine that 1 tank, 6 vehicles with machine guns, 5 dushka, 1 armored personnel carrier (APC) were destroyed, tens of ISIS members were killed.

Premier of Kobane Canton Anwar Moslem also praised the coalition airstrikes that continued multiple times on Tuesday. “Today’s strikes were really helpful. We are hoping that the coalition will continue striking ISIS like this.”

Moslem pointed out that the coalition should continue hitting ISIS targets in the same way they did on Tuesday. “If the coalition strikes ISIS terrorists effectively, we can handle the situation on the ground,” he added.

Moslem also thanked the people around the world that for their solidarity with the people of Kobane.

“I would like to thank Kurds in North [Turkey] and diaspora, as well as people around the world who have been with us in these difficult days. Their solidarity and support messages have been great source of strength and optimism for the people of Kobane and YPG and YPJ fighters on the front.”


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Why ISIS Focus Its Attacks on Kobane?


First published on July 10, 2014

ISIS attacks against Kobane are significant for several reasons. First, with the recent confidence gained by taking over Mosul and other cities in Iraq, ISIS wants to expand its control over a larger territory of Syria as well. After seizing two oil fields from a rival extremist group, ISIS wants to seize Kobane which remains in the middle of territories under its control. ISIS currently controls Girsespi (Tall Abyad), Jarablus and Raqqah. It desperately wants Kobane to connect the regions under its control and make it a part of the “Islamic State”.

Taking control of such an important city will enable ISIS to seize new territories from the direction of east and west, in addition to connecting Tall Abyad and Jarablus.

Furthermore, being a border city with Suruc of Sanliurfa province of Turkey, seizing Kobane will also allow ISIS to control the Mursitpinar Border Gate with Turkey as well. It is well known that ISIS gives specific importance to border gates especially for trade, easy crossing for fighters and logistics, the treatment of injured fighters etc. In this regard, it is increasingly likely that ISIS will plan attacks on other border crossings controlled by the Kurds like Serekaniye and Til Kochar (Yarubia), and crossings controlled by rival Islamist groups in Azaz.

In addition, ISIS also wants to cut Kobane from the Kurdish Mountain Region (Kurd Dagh) or Canton of Afrin and Canton of Jazira (Hasakah). As of now, moving between three Kurdish Cantons is difficult. According to local officials, currently hundreds of civilians are also held hostage in Jarablus and Tall Abyad. Also some 130 Kurdish students who were kidnapped by the group remain in captivity for over a month after they were kidnapped as they were returning from school exams in Aleppo.

Despite all calls from international human rights groups those children and other civilians are still not released and are being used as a bargaining chip to pressurize YPG, according to local human rights defenders.

If Kobane falls to ISIS, such a possibility will bring some additional advantages for ISIS to further pursue its goals. It is apparent that ISIS does not hesitate to use any means to seize the city including kidnapping civilians and crucifying them, destroying houses and taking properties and even cutting off the water of the city.

Due to the fact that the taking of Kobane will be very advantageous for ISIS, it is not holding back from committing all sorts of cruelty against the people. ISIS is kidnapping civilians, publicly crucifying them and killing them by torture. Local sources are frequently reporting that ISIS is ransacking civilian homes and confiscating civilian property. As a matter of fact, it is well known that ISIS has on several occasions cut off the drinking water supply to Kobane.

One other factor to remember is that Kobane is the first city in Rojava to have been freed from the Assad regime on July 19, 2012. Hence, the city has a special meaning for Kurds in Rojava. If the Kurds lose this city it will also have a demoralizing impact on them and their struggle for self-rule. Therefore, attacking Kobane is also attacking the gains of the Kurds in Syria, and a message for Kurds that ISIS [and its regional supporters] will not allow Kurdish autonomy in Syria.


Read my detailed VICE article on Kobane published in July


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Update From Kobani (October 6, 2014)


According to sources inside Kobani, as if October 6 7:30am UTC the city is still under the YPG control. City center was shelled all day on Sunday by the tanks stationed on south of the hill which is under ISIS control.

Civilians death and injuries were reported although the exact numbers are not known.

Contrary to what is widely reported, there are still many civilians in the city. Ayse Efendi, Cochair of Kobane Council and the wife of PYD leader Salih Muslim estimates there are 10-15 thousand civilians still in the city.

Kobane Defense Minister Ismet S. Hasan says heavy fighting especially continued near Mistanour Hill.


“ISIS wanted to attack the city with a vehicle full of explosives but YPG forces detected and destroyed the vehicle.”

Hasan also informs that a commander of Women’s Protection Units (YPJ *) Arin Mirkan detonated herself in a self-sacrificing mission to among a group of ISIS fighters.

Meanwhile coalition forces also conducted airstrikes around 02:30 local time against ISIS targets on Mistanour Hill and Termik Village.

Since access to areas targeted by coalition jets is either none or quite limited, real effectiveness of the attacks are unknown.

However, Hasan stated his content about coalition airstrikes calling them important.

“US airstrikes are important and we value them. We hope there will be more frequent strikes against ISIS targets who continuously shell the city. Airstrikes can be more effective if they are day time because ISIS predicts the strikes and act accordingly.”

* YPJ is the the women only military force of the YPG. Some experts estimate about 35% of the YPG fighters are women.

**This report is written from the information obtained from Hasan and several other sources inside of Kobani.


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Update From Kobani (October 5, 2014)


According to Anwar Moslem, Premier of Kobani Canton fierce battles continue around the city, especially near Mistanour Hill, and they are still in full control of Kobani city.

“Fierce fights continue around the city, with clashes intensifying around Mistanour Hill. ISIS pushes hard to seize the hill, but YPG resists holding it.”

Enwer Mislim

Moslem adds that ISIS has 4 tanks near Mistanour which continuously shell the city.

Some sources report ISIS now control of southern part if Mistanour Hill while some others did not verify this information.

As far as coalition air strikes concerned, sources say there were probably 6 (some say 5, some others say 7) strikes last night. However, they did not cause serious damage since heavy shelling continue (*).

Several other sources inside Kobani also provided information similar to Mr. Moslem’s account. Additionally, they reported that there are casualties from both sides, but loses of ISIS were considerably more than YPG’s.

* Because access to areas targeted by coalition jets is limited, information of sources about the effectiveness of airstrikes may not always be accurate. However, all sources agree that Saturday, October 4 strikes were the most effective strikes of coalition forces against ISIS near Kobani.


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Chairman Royce on CNN Discusses the Desperate Situation of Kurds in Syria


Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on CNN with Brianna Keilar discusses the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

Watch the Video

Polat Can ile Amerikan Hava Saldirilari ve Kobanê Üzerine

A female YPG fighter in Kobane

Mutlu Çiviroğlu

Sayın Polat Can, Amerika ve koalisyondaki diğer ülkeler Suriye’de IŞİD’e yönelik saldırılara başladılar birkaç gün önce. Bu saldırıların büyük bir tehlike ile karşı karşıya kalan Kobanê üzerindeki etkisi ne oldu?

Polat Can: IŞİD birkaç gündür diğer bölgelerdeki saldırılarını durdurup bütün gücüyle sadece Kobanê’ye yönelmiş durumda. Ne rejime karşı ne de başka bir şehirde IŞİD’in saldırısı söz konusu değil. Birçok şehirden, Rakka’dan, Tilhemîs’ten, Minbic, Carablus ve daha birçok şehirden topladığı güç ile Kobanê’ye saldırıyor IŞİD. Kullanılan ağır silahlara, tanklara ve toplara karşı YPG yaklaşık on gündür çok onurlu bir direniş sergiliyor. Bu direniş ve bu irade karşısında IŞİD ne kadar kırılıyorsa da, askeri mühimmat olarak çok büyük olduğu bilinen bir gerçek. Biz uzun suredir IŞİD’in Kobanê’ye girişini engellemek, yavaşlatmak için direniyoruz doğal olarak, onları durdurmak istiyoruz ama karşımızdaki güç çok fazla. Bunun için de pratikte bir an önce bir müdahele olmalı, ve IŞİD’e karşı savaşan güçer bize yardım etmeliler.

Peki, bu yardımı kimden istiyorsunuz? Bir bilgi kirliliği söz konusu. Birçok kişi Amerika’nın Kobanê bölgesinde IŞİD’e saldırdığını söylerken Rêdûr Xelîl de saldırıların olmadığını söyledi birkaç saat önce. Siz neler diyeceksiniz bu konu hakkında?

Polat Can: Altını çizerek söylüyorum, Amerika’nın ya da koalisyondaki hiçbir ülkenin Kobanê bölgesinde IŞİD’e yönelik bir saldırısı gerçekleşmedi şu ana kadar. Birkaç uçağın uçtuğu doğrudur fakat bu uçakların kime ait olduğu bile belli değil henüz. Türkiye’nin de olabilir bu uçaklar, Suriye rejiminin de. Biz yardım derken YPG’ye yardımdan da bahsetmiyoruz, Kürt halkına yardımdan bahsediyoruz. Ölümün pençesinde olan, Şengal’de yaşanlar ile yüz yüze kalan Kobanê halkına henüz bir yardım yapılmadı.

Peki, nedir bunun sebebi? IŞİD’e karşı bir koalisyon oluşturan bu ülkeler sivil insanların hayatları bu kadar tehlikede iken nasıl bu kadar kayıtsız kalabiliyorlar?

Polat Can: Biz de bu soruya bir cevap arıyoruz. Fakat onlar da bazı sorulara cevap aramalı. Kürtlerin hayatları bu kadar ucuz mu? Bir katliam tehlikesine maruz kalan, Kobanili 600 bin Kürdün hayatı bu kadar ucuz mu? Bir takım siyasi çıkarlar için konuşan bazı ülkeler, yine bir takım siyasi anlaşmazlıklar yaşayan Kürt partileri, Kürtlerin hayatların çok ucuz mu sayıyor? Zor durumda kalan bu millete en tehlikeli bir zamanda yardım etmeyeceklerse o zaman biz IŞİD’e karşıyız, biz terörizme karşıyız demesinler kimseye.

Yani bazı Kürt partileri Amerika ve koalisyonun IŞİD’e saldırmasına karşı çıkıyor, öyle mi demek istiyorsunuz?

Polat Can: Evet aynen bunu demek istiyorum. Bu tutumlarını devam ettirirlerse bu Kürt partilerinin isimlerini de açıklarız. Çünkü kurduğumuz bazı temaslarda aldığımız bilgiler doğrultusunda bazı Kürt partilerin Amerika’nın IŞİD’e saldırılarını engellemek istediğini biliyoruz.

Bir Kürt partisi neden bu saldırıları engelleyip binlerce Kürdün öldürülmesine yol açsın ki?

Polat Can: Çünkü bu zor zamandan bazı kesimler insanları düşünmek yerine kendi basit çıkarlarını düşünüyorlar. Bu onlar için bir fırsat, tam da zamanı diyorlar, gittikçe yenilgiye yaklaştığımızı düşünüyorlar ve sonrasında pazarlıklarla kendi isteklerini gerçekleştirmek istiyorlar. Bu insanlığa ve Kürtlüğe yakışmayan bir şey. Hangi parti olursa olsun Kürt halkının bu zor zamanında yanında olmalı. Ki ben bahsettiğim bu partilerin yardım için YPG’ye bir tek kurşun bile vermediğini söylemeyebilirim. Kimse yardım istemediğimiz iddiasında bulunmasın, biz bütün Kürtlere sesleniyoruz.

Peki, bahsettiğiniz bu partilerin durumun ne kadar tehlikeli olduğunun farkındalar mı?

Polat Can: Durumun tehlikeli olduğunu sizden de bizden de çok daha iyi biliyorlar.

Kürt medyası hakkında neler diyeceksiniz? Kimi haberler doğrulanmadan yayınlanıyor ve durumun Kobanê’de çok iyi olduğu söyleniyor sürekli, neler diyeceksiniz?

Polat Can: Kaç gündür sürekli savaş halinde olduğumuz için medyayı takip etme fırsatımız olmadı. Biz halkımızın umudunu kaybetmesini istemiyoruz fakat durum kötü. Herkes bilsin ki, Kürdistan’ın dört bir yanından destek için gelen Kürt gençleriyle kanımızın son damlasına kadar direneceğiz. Gerekirse  Stalingrad Direnişini Kobanê’de tekrarlayacağız.

Medya konusuna dönecek olursak, durumun çok iyi olduğunu yazan kimi medya kuruluşları yüzünden temas halinde olduğumuz ülkeler ile anlaşmazlıklar yaşıyoruz. Biz bir şey söylerken onlar bizi dinlemeyip farklı bir şey yazıp çiziyorlar.

Yapılan yanlış açıklamalar ve haberler savaş cephesinden haberdar olmamak ile ilgili bir şey olabilir mi? Çünkü uluslararası kuruluşlar bazen Kobanê’deki yetkililerin söylediği şeyler üzerinden açıklama yapıyorlar.

Polat Can: Evet yanlış haberler ve açıklamalar bizi çok kötü etkiliyor. Mesela dün Amerikan uçaklarının Kobanê’de IŞİD’e saldırdığını söylemiş, yazmış herkes, fakat biz yüzde yüz eminiz ki herhangi bir saldırı gerçekleşmemiş. Saldırmayı bırakın henüz Amerika’nın Kobanê’de IŞİD’e saldırması yönünde alınmış bir saldırı kararı da yok.

Peki, Kürtler dünyanın dikkatini Kobanê’ye çekmek için neler yapmalılar?

Polat Can: Öncelikle bütün dünya bilsin ki kendi kısıtlı imkânlarımızla onca şehit vererek 250 bin Ezidi insanımızı büyük bir katliamdan kurtardık. Ve Kobanê’de de yaklaşık iki yıldır ambargo olduğu halde direniyoruz. IŞİD ve destekçileri bunu iyi gördükleri, bildikleri için sürekli Kobanê’ye saldırıp burayı iyice zayıf düşürmek istediler. Bunun için Kobanê için basit basın açıklamaları, oturma eylemleri değil etkili olabilecek eylemler düzenlenmeli. İnsani bir müdahale için büyük bir kamuoyu, büyük bir baskı yapılmalı. YPG’ye yardımı bir kenara bırakın diyorum, katliam tehlikesi ile karşı karşıya kalan Kobanili yüz binler için bir şeyler yapsınlar diyorum. Amerika ve koalisyondaki ülkeler IŞİD’i hedef alıyor olabilir, saldırılara başlamış olabilirler ama en tehlikeli yerlere saldırı düzenlemiyorlar. Til Abyad’da saldırdılar fakat Kobanê bölgesinde olan onlarca IŞİD tankının dizildiği yerleri hedef almadılar. Bunun için halkımız dünyanın dört bir yanında büyük bir kamuoyu oluşturmalı. İki gündür New York’ta teröre karşı bir konferans düzenleniyor. Peki, burada Kobanê için ne denildi, nasıl bir karar alındı? Yani eğer Kobanê için bir şey yapılmıyorsa demek ki tüm bu konferanslar, konuşmalar, koalisyonlar boşuna!

Yaşanan olaylarda Türkiye’nin rolü ne, peki?

Polat Can: Türkiye son olarak kötü bir rol aldı ve bu rolü oynuyor. Sizin de takip ettiğiniz gibi, biz YPG olarak, Rojava Kürtleri olarak Türkiye ile iyi ilişkiler kurmak istiyoruz. Hiçbir zaman sınırda Türkiye ile bir sorun yaşamama esası üzerinde hareket ediyorduk. Fakat son zamanlarda herkesin bildiği bir gerçek var ki Türkiye IŞİD’i destekliyor. Bir pazarlık var, IŞİD gelip Kobanê’ye girecek, sonra diğer Rojava şehirlerini de ele geçirecek ve sonra da bu mıntıkalara Türk askerleri yerleştirilerek bir tampon bölge oluşturulacak. Türkiye’nin planı bu. Ki zaten Türkiye’nin IŞİD’e yaptığı yardım sonucunda IŞİD elindeki Türk rehineleri bıraktı. Bu kötü pazarlık Kobanê üzerinden yürütülüyor.

İnsan hakları örgütlerine, sivil toplum örgütlerine sesleniyorum. Eğer şimdi yardım etmezlerse sonrası çok geç olabilir. Evet, YPG kendi kısıtlı imkânlarıyla, hafif silahlarıyla direniyor fakat YPG bir Süpermen değil, bir ilahi güç değil. Bir an önce harekete geçmeliler.

NOT: Röportaj konunun acilliği doasıyla hemen tercüme edilerek yayınlanıyor. Çeviri ideal olmayabilir ama gerçeğe en uygun şekilde çevirilip, bir başka gazeteci tarafınan da kontrol edilmiştir