Tag Archives: Kobani Expert

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

Kobane_YPG

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

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

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

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

What about the current situation?

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

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

YPJ_Kob3

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

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

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

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

Kobane_Exp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does YPG need urgently, in military terms?

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

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

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

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

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

Ismett

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

Is it true that ISIS is tunneling under Kobane?

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

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

British YPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

Interview conducted on November 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

Ismet_Hasan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Day 50, A Synopsis of the Situation in Kobane

YPG 3

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

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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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

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