Tag Archives: Kobani Expert Mutlu Civiroglu

Kobane Journalist Bali: Thousands of Civilians Try to Survive Facing Death Every Day

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Mr. Bali, as a journalist currently living in Kobane you are following the events on the ground closely. According to some media reports, Kobane is almost completely freed from ISIS.  Is such news telling the truth?

Kobane as the symbol of resistance is continuing to fight. News that declare Kobane is totally freed, are true at all. I suspect that such deceitful and false news are part of a hideous plan pursued against Kobane. It was especially the Turkish media that spread such news. Mr. Erdogan and Davutoglu had statements to the effect that “Kobane’s situation was good.” A few times they stated that ISIS left Kobane and retreated to Aleppo. In this way, they were hoping to leave Kobane out of news agenda and draw public attention to Aleppo. As someone living in Kobane right now, I would like to ask this to journalists who spread this type of news: if the situation in Kobane is good, if ISIS has withdrawn from here totally and there is no longer any danger, why are you not coming into Kobane? Why are hundreds of thousands of Kurds who took refuge to the north of our country, are still living in refugee camps there?

Tens of shells everyday target homes and civilians living in Kobane get wounded. It is true that a great resistance is put up in Kobane; likewise, the YPG and YPJ have taken the initiative into their hands. But ISIS is still sustaining a street fight against Kurdish people in Kobane. Just a couple of hours ago, ISIS conducted attacks against Mursitpinar Border Gate [between Kobane and Turkey]. ISIS has been trying daily to capture this border gate ever since the first clashes in Kobane started. This border gate is located in the middle of Kobane. If ISIS is totally withdrawn from Kobane [as reported by some media], how could it attack to this gate?

Mustafa Bali
Mustafa Bali

You say Turkish media is spreading such false news, but such news also finds a place in Kurdish media?

Language is not a sufficient criterion to tell whether the media is that of Kurdish or Turkish [origin]. When the clashes started in Kobane, some media, despite the fact that they were Kurdish media, were spreading the “news of defeat.” The Kurdish media that I referred to were reporting “Kobane is going to fall after 1-2 km”, as if measuring the distance inch by inch and the language in which they reported this was Kurdish. What I am saying is that the mere use of Kurdish language by such media is not a good measure of their Kurdish-ness. Media that identifies with the suffering and resistance in Kobane, media that boosts the spirit when needed –in place of spreading demoralizing news- may be called Kurdish media, not the ones that say “situation in Kobane is calm and very good.”

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Erdogan and Davutoglu said things like “ISIS withdrew from Kobane and was heading toward Aleppo” because they wanted to drop Kobane from the news agenda. And in an unconscious way, some media organizations also strive to spread the news of a premature victory. A surface reading of such news give a misleading impression of complete liberation of Kobane which does not reflect the reality at all, the danger and the clashes are continuing…

I heard an explosion now, is there an attack again [sound of an explosion was heard during the interview]?

Kobani as you also heard, almost every five minutes we are hit with mortar shells. We are the civilians living in Kobane and such attacks target us. Right now tens of civilians are ducking into corners, trying to protect themselves from these mortar shells that are fired from east of Kobane targeting its west.

Aside from mortar shells, with what other weapons does ISIS attack Kobane?

ISIS uses all kinds of military vehicles to attack Kobane. In addition it uses Dushka, Kalashnikovs, BKS [PKMS], hand grenades and suicide car bombings. Everyone is wondering about one thing: why is ISIS still not finished in Kobane after all these aerial bombings?

ISIS needs to be repelled from Kobane via room to room fighting, not street by street. Every nook and corner that ISIS has reached is pillaged, destroyed, booby-trapped and mined. Clearing Kobane from ISIS is not an easy thing to do. Even a mighty force like NATO stated recently that it might take two years to clear ISIS from Mosul. The resistance in Kobane was put forth with a few Kalashnikovs. Resisting YPG fighters keep fighting because they believe in their will power. ISIS has a great military and technical might in its hands and with this might and technical capabilities, it is attacking Kobane.

One of the noticeable news of the previous weeks was that the YPG established control over the roads that brought reinforcements to the ISIS. Is ISIS still receiving reinforcements from cities like Talabyad, Rakka and Jarablus bordering Kobane?

It has been more than two weeks that the YPG is fighting in villages of Kobane using guerrilla tactics. Such tactics have certainly increased the pressures on ISIS. It is true that they cannot reach Kobane as easily as before. However, this should not be interpreted as these roads are under complete control and that ISIS will no longer get reinforcements via these roads. ISIS is receiving reinforcements (using vehicles) every day, using different roads and methods. They use big vehicles to transport their mortar cannons here, the sounds of which you heard twice during this interview. They fire between 30-40 mortars each day. This means they receive ammunition supplies every day.

In a similar way, tens of ISIS gangs are killed every day, if they had not received new reinforcements, Kobane would have been liberated by now. According to the information we receive from our sources in Manbij, Talabyad and Rakka, every day reinforcements are sent to ISIS. Specifically they move from Rakka to Talabyad and from there into Kobane.

OK, what is the situation of thousands of civilians in Kobane and those that wait along the border? How will they survive through the harsh winter conditions?

I truly don’t know how to describe the situation of the civilians who remain in Kobane and along the border area. Thousands of civilians most of whom are children and elderly try to survive facing death every day. Before the harsh winter conditions set in, there was the danger of dying from mortar shells, fire from military vehicles, sometimes from the Turkish tanks or at the hands of ISIS suicide bombings. But, now to these added the new danger of freezing to death. These civilians are in need of everything ranging from water, food, winter necessities and fuel. Especially, the fuel is critical. There is no fuel in Kobane and Turkey does not allow the passage of fuel. We appeal to everyone to do whatever they can to attend to the needs of these civilians. I saw tens of people with bare feet walking through mud and puddles on the streets of Kobane.

As the officials of the Kobane Canton have expressed previously, a security corridor should be set up under the protection of the United Nations. Again, we have to state that Turkey creates dire hardships if and when allowing help to come through the Mursitpinar Gate. Our people wait for days to pass a truck load of relief supplies from the Turkish side to our side. Turkey creates the same problems for the transfer of our wounded. They die while waiting for hours for an ambulance to arrive. We appeal to all international relief organizations to help the civilians here, through this interview with you…

*Translated into English by Burhan Elturan

Anwar Moslem: Everyone Supporting Us Has a Share in Kobane Resistance

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Anwar Moslem

The Premier of the Kobane Canton Anwar Moslem told us about the final situation in the region as well as the recent visit he paid to Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

Mr. Anwar, you have been on a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Before talking about this visit, I want to ask you about the final situation in Kobane. Reports that YPG are making an advance and taking more areas under their control are coming through over the past couple of days. What is the current situation in Kobane?

The resistance in Kobane has left two months behind. Within this period, Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have managed to put up an effective fight against the heavy terror attacks of ISIS, also with the support of the coalition forces. The aerial operations by coalition forces against ISIS positions and their heavy weaponry have both weakened the power of ISIS and bolstered the YPG’s morale.

It is true that YPG forces are making progress in recent days. YPG fighters have retaken 5 neighborhoods in east Kobane under control. YPG forces are in the same way advancing in south Kobane. The danger before civilians and the town however remains. The ISIS which has suffered a heavy defeat wants to devastate this city of resistance and to murder civilians vengefully. They are being responded by the YPG, peshmerga forces, Free Syrian Army (FSA) attacks on the ground and effective aerial attacks of the coalition. Thus we can say that the situation in general is good. We believe the Kobane resistance will soon end up in victory.

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During our recent talks with Kobane we have observed that the morale is high. There has always been hope in your voice but this time you are seen to be more hopeful. Is this true?

All our American and European brothers and sisters, regardless of their color and race, and the whole world have supported the YPG against the ISIS terror. It is surely beyond doubt that this made us happy and gave hope to us. This is why we say that everyone supporting us has a share in the Kobane resistance. The advance the YPG are making with this support does really make one feel happy and honored.

Well, what about your visit to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region? You were invited to a conference. How were you welcomed by the media, politicians and people?

We as the presidency of the Kobane Canton were invited to the MERI Forum 2014 Conference in Erbil. We went there to attend the conference which discussed the subject of peace and equality in the Middle East. Participants from states such as Iraq, Syria and Turkey mainly focused on this subject, as well as on the peace process in North Kurdistan. The instance of Kobane in the fight against ISIS was also discussed. It was pointed out that ISIS would be able to advance nowhere if faced a resistance like the one in Kobane everywhere. We met authorities from the political arena and the government, as well as independent ones and representatives of institutes for strategic studies from America, England and Turkey. The whole world wants to do something against terror. They also want to do something for the rights of the Kurdish people in Syria and Iraq, and the rights of the minorities living in the north of Kurdistan. These were the main issues discussed at the conference.

You said you held talks with some authorities. Whom did you meet there?

We met the Iraqi President, Mr. Fuad Masum who voiced support with Kobane and stated that Iraq was suffering from the same ISIS problem Kobane is facing.

Fuad MAsum Enwer

We also met the former Iraqi President Mr. Mam Jalal [Talabani] who in the same way voiced support with Kobane. The other meetings we had were with Mrs. Hero Talabani, Dr. Bahram Salih, all executives of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), as well as Noshirvan Mustafa, the leader of the Goran Movement and Cemil Bayik [of the PKK]. They all expressed that they supported us.

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Besides, we had some other meetings at the Kurdistan Parliament to which we expressed our thanks for the peshmerga support sent to Kobane. We met the executives of all parties in the parliament. What we have seen once again is that all Kurdish powers are supporting Kobane, opposing terror and defending peace for humanity all around the world. Some authorities from America and European states we talked with also voiced support for Kobane.

How do these mentioned American and European authorities assess the developments in Kobane? Did you highlight any demand for help and do they intend to do something in practice?

The developments taking place in Kobane and the ISIS terror are being followed closely by everyone. The whole world wants to unite against terror which Kobane is withstanding in practice for eight months now. We expressed to the American and European officials that Kobane is fighting a terrorist organization that targets not only our region but the entire world. We told that everyone must support Kobane and reiterated our demand for a security corridor. We also called attention to the situation of the displaced people in the face of challenging winter conditions approaching. They stated that they were ready to provide any help, and that they could provide further assistance, in economic, medical and other terms, in the wake of victory in Kobane.

Is there any reason why you didn’t meet Kurdistan Regional Government leader Massoud Barzani?

As is known by everyone, there is a war going on in the Kurdistan Region under attack by the ISIS. Mr. Barzani was on the battlefield while we were on the other hand short on time and therefore couldn’t have a chance for a meeting. Just like with the officials of all other parties, we held talks with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) as well.

Let me continue with questions coming from readers via Twitter. It is being said that 200 fighters affiliated to the Syrian Kurdish National Council (SKNC) will cross into Kobane, while it is on the other hand being asserted that they are not being allowed to do so by the canton administrators or the YPG. What do you have to say in this regard?

We want everyone to join the defense force in Kobane. We called all forces from across Kurdistan to support the YPG. As a force of Rojava, the SKNC must help us already. That unit of 200 fighters should have been not outside but inside Kobane by now. The Duhok Agreement has put forward a solution regarding such military issues which are under the initiative of the YPG in the canton, which means that the truth is not being reflected by the reports that administrators of political parties in the canton are not allowing the crossing of SKNC fighters. We invite everyone able to take up arms to Kobane in order to protect their lands and honor. However, it is unfortunately only the YPG left in Kobane. We however express once again that anyone can come to defend Kobane but no special force from outside can be allowed inside where the presence of two armies cannot be accepted. They can rank among the YPG which is not a political but a military force defending the Kobane canton and Rojava, and is also one of the main future forces of Syria.

So, this means the SKNC members do not want to fight under the name of the YPG, is that right?

It is, unfortunately. At this point I want to express something; the peshmerga forces here are supporting the YPG and Kobane and there is taking place no conflict or disagreement about that. Fighters of the Tuwar al-Raqqa, Shams al-Shamal and Jabhat al-Akrad groups are also present here, coming from outside to support Kobane. The youths of Kobane do not need to say that ‘we are defending here as an outsider force’ as they should be ranking among the YPG ranks anyway. Should they insist on being a separate force, this would make no good for the future and result in unfavorable consequences. We state once again that the YPG is the army of the canton and the entire Rojava territory; it is not the army of any party, as has also been approved by the Duhok Agreement. The unfair treatment against the YPG hurts us because of the fact that it is the fighters of the YPG that are fighting, getting wounded and falling a martyr here. The whole world knows the YPG reality now. While a youth coming from Sweden joins the YPG ranks to fight for humanity, why wouldn’t the youths of Kobane do the same?

One other question directed by readers is whether there has been a change in Turkey’s approach towards Kobane.

We and Turkey are neighbors. Turks, Kurds, Arabs and others are all the peoples of the Middle East. We hoped Turkey would support us but they didn’t provide the assistance we expected. We want to re-voice that ISIS is an enemy to not only Kobane and the Kurds but also to all the states and peoples of the world. For the attainment of peace in the Middle East, Turkey must support Kobane and the YPG, just like us supporting the peace process in the north of Kurdistan and Turkey.

As I have repeatedly stated so far, it is humanity, democracy and all peoples being defended in Kobane. The solidarity demonstrated by the whole world for Kobane on November 1st and the support provided by the international coalition has been important to us. We hope this support will continue for the YPG and Kobane, as well as for the protection of all peoples including Kurds, Armenians, Syriacs, Arabs and Turks.

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

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Thanks for Berna Özgencil for translating this interview into English

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

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

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

Interview conducted on November 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chemical Attack in Kobane?

Dr_Welatt

I spoke to Dr. Ahmed, one of the 4 remaining doctors inside Kobane,  in 01:35 Kobane time about possible ISIS chemical attack claims. What Dr. Ahmed says is as follows:

“Several patients came to health center at 11:10pm with burn in the throat & as well as complaining about headache, though their situation is NOT very severe.  We are NOT sure what the cause is yet, but we are planning to send affected patients to Suruc [neighboring city in the Turkish side of the border]  in the morning for further examination.”

Doctor Ahmed said there is also a smell in the city after the incident. He said all affected people are civilians, no fighters among them.

Doctor Ahmed emphasized that they were NOT sure the symptoms were certainly due to a chemical attack. He said more research needed to be done to determine the exact cause.

He added that they do not have any masks or other equipment to protects civilians and YPG and FSA fighters from a possible chemical attacks.

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A July 2014 report on a previous possible ISIS chemical attack in Kobane: http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2014/7/syriakurd1272.htm

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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

Senator Ted Cruz: Arm the Kurds against ISIS

Senator Ted Cruz Comments on ISIS on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley

Ted Cruz

“We have a tremendous asset on the ground right now, which is the Kurds… The Obama administration keeps focusing on Syrian rebels, many of whom have far too close ties to radical Islamic terrorists for it to make any sense for us to be supporting them.

The Kurds are allies and they are boots on the ground. And when we work with them in concert, they’re ready to fight on the front line, along with serious airpower.”

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.

Update from Kobane (October 11, 2014)

Interview with Premier of Kobane Canton Anwar Moslem on the Situation in Kobane in 27th day of the resistance against fierce ISIS attacks

October 11, 2014 at 9:30 am local time

Enwer_MislimFighting continued in East and South of the city. As a result of YPG ambush a large number of ISIS members were killed Friday night.

Although it has been 5 days that ISIS entered east part of the city, their attempts to advance failed. ISIS controls about 25-30% of the city in east part of Kobane, only Asayish [police] building and the courthouse are under their control. Asayish building was destroyed on Thursday as a result of US airstrikes and all ISIS members inside were killed. Other than that they don’t have any important locations. The morale of the people inside the city is high.

Coalition airstrikes also inflicted serious damage on ISIS yesterday and last night. On the ground YPG and FSA groups are fighting bravely shoulder to shoulder with very modest weapons. FSA groups also appealed to US and west for heavy weapons.

We need a humanitarian corridor under the supervision international community for thousands of civilians inside city. UN statement about the civilians inside Kobane is important and we are expecting urgent action from UN. But the real number if civilians is much higher than what Mr. Mistura announced.  People here need water, food, medicine, milk and other basic needs.

Moslem strongly denied some reports that Iraqi Kurdistan Region sent them weapons recently.

“We have not received any weapons from Southern [Iraqi] Kurds, but I am appealing once more that we desperately need their help. I want to stress that we need effective weapons from US, Southern Kurdistan and the West so that we can fight ISIS better. We are confident that YPG and FSA groups can expel ISIS from Kobane if we have heavy weapons.”

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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

FSA Groups Fighting against ISIS in Kobane Appeal for Help

YPG_FSA_Kobane

Chief Commander of Shams al Shamal Abu Leyla denies some reports that ISIS now controls 40% of Kobane. He says what ISIS controls is roughly 25% of the city.

Abu Leyla appealed US and West to supply them heavy weapons to be able to more effectively fight against ISIS who attack them with heavy weapons.

Abu Leyla was injured from his right hand with shrapnel on Monday, but he returned fighting after a quick recovery.

Similarly, General Abu Ismaeel of Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa, another FSA group fighting alongside YPG in Kobane against ISIS had asked immediate help from the US and the West.

Abu Ismaeel had warned that a huge disaster is on its way for Kobane unless the international coalition immediately interferes.

YPG and local FSA brigades and battalions [Tuwar al-Raqqa, Shams al-Shamal, al-Tawhid (East), Saraya Jarablus, Kurdish Front and some other smaller groups] declared a joint military operation room called Burkan al-Firat [Euphrates Volcano] on September 10, 2014

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See Reuters Video showing Kurdish YPG fighters and Free Syrian Army clash with ISIS in Kobane

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg8HOZyOLBU

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Below is a recent article “Kurdish-Arab Rebel Alliance May be Key to Obama’s Syrian Strategy” written by me and Wladimir van Wilgenburg about the YPG and FSA cooperation. This piece was published in Atlantic Council on Septe,ber 23, 2014.

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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

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.

Ismet_Hasan

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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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

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

Anwar_Moslem_Serkeftin
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 https://twitter.com/mutludc

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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-mirkan1
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.

ACW

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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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 Kobani  https://twitter.com/mutludc

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This interview was translated from Kurdish into English by Ê Din