Tag Archives: Kurdish People’s Protection Units

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.

images

 

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

Interview with YPJ Commander in Kobane and Mishtenur Hill

YPG Tree

We discussed the recent situation in Kobane and the situation of Mishtenur Hill with the Senior Commander of Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) Meryem Kobani.

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

 

Ms. Kobani, it has been stated that YPG and YPJ had some gains today. What is the latest situation on the war front?

We can generally say that our forces hit ISIS hard in many locations. They received major blows on various routes from places such as Raqqa, Tal Abyad and Jarablus where they receive reinforcements from. They were hit badly on the skirts of Mishtenur Hill thanks to guerilla tactics by small groups. Two or three times, they attempted to launch attack inside the city, but we stopped it and they couldn’t move forward. Moreover, many ISIS militants were killed by the air strikes. They can no longer move around as they wish like they used to. They will face the guerilla tactics of YPG and YPJ not only in Kobane but every route they try to attack.

Could you elaborate on what you mean by the guerilla tactics for our readers? Do you mean hit and run?

You should hit the enemy forces whenever you get the opportunity. And they won’t be able to determine where the attack is coming from. You should be everywhere; spread like fungi but should be also hiding. The enemy forces shouldn’t be able catch up with you even when they reach the origin of the attack. We can call that guerilla tactic.

What recent change or incident allowed your forces to advance in this manner?

ISIS has transferred all its forces to our region and we have gained experience in time. This is a rule of war. The longer you fight the enemy, the more battle experience you gain and the more efficient your struggle becomes. Coalition airstrikes and support from peshmergas are also important

You said that you can block the support for ISIS no matter which direction it comes from. Is it true that ISIS receives continuous support from Raqqa, Jarablus and Tal Abyad?

Of course! Yesterday and last night, reinforcements arrived. They continuously get help and heavy weaponry from everywhere. But, from now on we will hit every point that the help reaches and turn it into their graves.

From what I understand, you don’t have the complete control of the Mishtenur Hill, but you have effective forces on the routes up to hill as well as towards Kobane. Is that correct?

Yes, but from now on we will be everywhere.

It has been two months since the beginning of the battle. How do you foresee the future situation in Kobane. There is a hope, a belief both among the Kurds and other peoples of the world that you will liberate Kobane from ISIS. What do you think about this?

The attacks started 60 days ago at 9 pm on the eastern front. I have been active in the war since the beginning. The international powers backed us up. I want to mention this. We are Kurds but we really are not fighting only for the Kurds in Kobane. We are fighting for the humanity against this terrorist organization targeting humanity.

In the previous interview we had, you mentioned that you thought of all the women of the world when you have your finger on the trigger of your gun.

Yes, certainly. When I have my finger on the trigger of my gun I think about Kurdish women, all the women in the world and those who think of freedom and peace in mind.

On November, the 1st, the whole world was on the streets to support you. What would you like to tell to the global public and especially the women of the world about the struggle in Kobane?

The war in Kobane is an international war. The liberation of Kobane would open the door for the liberation of the Middle East. Just at the beginning of the war, I said that the Kobane would be the Stalingrad of the Middle East and bring the peoples together. Many people asked why I said such thing. I stated that we wouldn’t be alone; that millions would see the injustice and support us. Because we are in our own country, in our own lands.

Those who defend human rights in the world cannot turn a blind eye to this truth in the 21st century. I thought every person, every country and every force with a conscious would take a stance against this injustice. Many people ask how I foresaw this. In the beginning, we were on our own; we fought alone against tanks and cannons with our will. But I had hoped. I believe that those in the right will get what they deserve.

The hope you mentioned seems to have become everyone’s hope now. American journalist Richard Engel from NBC was in Kobane couple of days ago. He praises YPG and especially YPJ. He states that your fighters have become a symbol for the whole world in the fight against ISIS.

I believe that this hope will become many people’s, millions of women’s hope. The fight that we fight against this barbaric organization targeting humanity in the name of Islam will become the source of a modern future for those who support the real Islam.

How are ISIS fighters doing? You can see them at the front and listen to their conversations on the radio. How is their morale?

The rule of war dictates that you should act as if your enemy is very strong even if it is weakened. We know that our enemies are experiencing difficulties.

Is it possible that the forward move will continue in the upcoming days? The general public is very optimistic about this.

I don’t want to give away too much at the moment. I have a target in my mind; I can explain everything once I reach there. When I left that place I swore that I would come back.

From your voice, I can tell that you are not far from that place?

I am hopeful. Right at this moment, I am at an emplacement and looking at that place.

***

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

***

Thanks for Çağla Orpen for translating this interview into English

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

***

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.

HW_7_11_14
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?

10408858_575764652532762_7025596733894266275_n

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.

***

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

***

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