We discussed the latest conditions in Sinjar with the Spokesman of YPG Forces in Sinjar Polat Can and some media reports that the YPG hindered a US military operation.
Mr. Can, what are the conditions like in Sinjar? What happened to the Yezidis that were left behind?
The latest situation in Sinjar is as you know it, and the clashes taking place in the Rabia area are continuing. Up to this point we did not allow ISIS to capture Rabia. The real aim of the fight we’ve put up in Sinjar , Rabia and Sinun is to defend the people that are trapped in the Sinjar area, and to protect and rescue them of course.
We are putting up a great resistance in Rabia and Sinun, these two areas are two important central points.
Especially Rabia, it is a strategically central location because its ‘gates’ open right in-between Sinjar and Rojava, and in the same way it can also lead to South Kurdistan. In order to complete their encirclement of Sinjar, ISIS is attempting to seize Rabia. This way they want to cut-off Sinjar’s communication from the rest of the world and completely detach her from Kurdistan. Many large scale clashes took place and a lot of ISIS members were killed. Some of our friends were martyred. There are still violent clashes in the Sinun region. If you ask why Sinun and Rabia are such important zones, its because the security corridor that the YPG established is right here in between Sinjar and Rojava . Because of this, ISIS are attacking here with all their forces and want to take this area under their control. However, with the resistance we have started this month and which we are continuing, we would like to hold on to these places.
YPG Spokesman Polat Can and Peshmerga Commanders in Rabia, Mosul
If we want to address the Sinjar region, it was as the United Kurdish Forces Hezen Hevbeş yên Kurdistani (HHK) that we made a statement. I want to highlight this. The Sinjar Mountain is completely under the control of the United Kurdish Forces.
“FOR NOW, THERE ARE NO KURDISH CIVILIANS IN DANGER ON THE SINJAR MOUNTAIN”
These United Kurdish Forces, who are they, who do they consist off?
YPG, HPG, Yekineyen Berxwedana Şengale (Şengal Resistance Units) and a small part our Peshmerga brothers. These forces are fighting in coordination together and have complete control over the Sinjar area. All the Yezidis that had fled or were in hiding have been reached. Some of them have crossed over to Rojava.
Our forces moved to Mount Sinjar soon after the arrival of civilians fleeing ISIS. Later on, PKK fighters coming from Qandil Mountains also joined us. We escorted Yazidi Kurds down from the mountain and into safety in Rojava. With the help of the YPG, United Kurdish Forces and the Jazira Canton, more than 220,000 Yezidis have crossed over to Rojava, some have decided to cross over to South [Iraqi] Kurdistan from Feshkhabur via this safe passage we provided. Some 30,000 Yazidi Kurds are still in Rojava, and half of them are staying in Newroz Camp in Derik which was prepared by the local Kurdish administration, some others in cities like Amude and Tirbesipi. Presently we are not aware of any Kurds that are in danger on Mount Sinjar.
“SOME HAVE JOINED ISIS FROM THE IRAQI ARMY”
As the YPG, what do you think has made ISIS so effective? Specialists are claiming that ISIS does not have many supporters, so how does such a group organise large scale and simultaneous attacks?
Let’s put it this way, some Iraqi soldiers, especially Sunni ones, all work for ISIS. We want this to be known. The recent attacks on Sinjar was not only by ISIS, but also by Arabs from the villages neighbouring Sinjar. Many Arabs in Sinjar that were claiming to be the “friends of Kurds” are taking part in these attacks. The Arabs in these areas who are supposedly the neighbours and relatives of Kurds, are now joining ISIS. Those who were promoting Arab chauvinism are fighting in Mosul and Tikrit today against the Kurds, and they are increasing in numbers. Especially those who joined from the Iraqi army, their membership meant new weapons for ISIS, and naturally, this made them stronger.
Furthermore, because ISIS believe looting to be halal, those who joined them did so with the excuse that they were attacking the properties of infidels, but they stole the property and assets of our people.
As you know, US announced that there was no need for a rescue mission. According to your sources, how many people are stranded on the mountains and in what condition are they?
The Kurds who are on the mountain are the Kurds who have refused to leave Sinjar. ISIS wasn’t able to enter every village and some of the ones they did manage to enter, we took back in a day. The holy places of the Yezidi community are also under our control; like holy Grave of Sharfaddin. This place is also a target for ISIS however, until now we have not allowed them to get close. Kurds in these villages and the ones currently staying on the security corridor have not left. It is not possible for me to give you an exact number but a large majority of these people are still here.
“THERE ARE KURDS WHO HAVE BEEN CAUGHT IN BETWEEN THIS CONFLICT. WE NEED A SAFETY OPERATION FOR THEM”
How do you evaluate the announcements made by the US administration? And I would like to ask you this, was there any agreements made between your forces and the US forces and was there any co-ordinated joint efforts?
On August 12, we announced the same thing as the Pentagon; that the Kurds in Sinjar Mountain were safe. I would also like to make it known that, according to the information we have received, there are some villages which fall to the south of Sinjar that has been caught in between this war. We also have some people who have fallen into the hands of ISIS, and some who have been kidnapped and are being held hostage. If a military operation is needed, then I believe it should be for these Kurds.
There is news that the village of Kocho is under siege and that the people are being forced to convert to Islam, is this true?
Yes, this is true. These villages exist and they are situated towards the south of Sinjar City. The people that reached the Sinjar Mountain are good, they are in areas we control and free from ISIS. But water, food, medicine and other human necessities you can imagine are needed. Whoever wants to leave can do so with the help of United Kurdish Forces or the Jazira Canton Officials. We help them cross to Rojava or South Kurdistan. For this we requested international support and aid. We also asked the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government for help in providing aid for these people. We requested doctors, we also requested for the wounded and the ill to be transferred and treated. I will repeat it again, we need humanitarian support.
“WE HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UK AND THE USA”
I would like to ask you about your relationship with the USA. According to reports by some newspapers, the YPG hindered the US forces which caused altercations between YPG and the US, but then tensions were eased by the intervention of the Peshmerga. What actually happened?
It’s a complete lie and has been fabricated to create propaganda as no such thing occurred. We have a good relationship with both the US and the UK. Infact, with our help on the ground their helicopters delivered a lot of aid. We do not need to mention names of the officials that we are meeting, but there is no problem between us. All news in regards to this has no basis.
For updates from Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iraq follow me on Twitter: @mutludc
For feedback, question and interview requests: email@example.com or +1202-241-0506