General Commander of YPG Hemo: What is Happening in Syria is Like a Third World War


People’s Defense Units, known by YPG too, established a military force in the last four years, where the number of its fighters reached to 50,000. The nucleus formation began in the Jazita region with the end of 2011, where it was able to achieve victories against “Islamic State” as well as its clashes with the regime forces, Jabhat al- Nusra (al- Qaeda in Levant) and Islamist factions in successive periods. Its military formations have distributed in three main region where the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is combined with People’s Defense Units (YPG) within the Democratic Society System, declared the establishment of 3 cantons: Jazira, Efrin and Kobani in the late January 2014.

YPG has gained world-wide fame during IS attack on Kobani and seizing more than 356 towns, villages and farms that guided to the military alliance between YPG and US-led coalition. SOHR could interview the general commander of YPG Sipan Hemo, where the main points on the Kurdish and Syrian arena in general.

First, how do identify YPG?

The best definition of it is its name People’s Defense Units, its fundamental pillar is the young Syrian Kurdish men who are militarily disciplined, while its mission is to protect the people in Rojava in all its constituents under these deadly mess in the cantons of Rojava. Rojava is an expression for the regions inhabited mostly by Kurdish people in Syria.

Is it faction from the guerilla forces – the military wing of PKK, and does it fight on Turkish territories with the PKK?

YPG is a military force belongs to the Democratic Self- Management in Rojava, and it is fighting in fierce battles to protect its regions, so YPG has no interest to open a front with Turkey expanding to hundreds of kilo meters, this is a military suicide, and what is said on the contrary of this is meaningless and does not merit a response.

What is your response to the accusations of recruiting children?

We have issued a lot of statement in response to these allegations but it seems that some people insist on repeating this just to defame the good reputation gained by YPG, we all know who recruit children as fighters and suicide bombers by the name of Jihad.

What is the relationship between the Self- Defense Forces, which was announced some time ago, and YPG? Is it an attempt to increase YPG personnel obligatorily? Is it a permanent or temporary step?

The Self- Defense is a step to organize a permanent protection, where the society in all its constituents protects its self, and to that time YPG stays, the most experienced in defending our areas. For this reason, the Self- Defense is a goal we seek to reach to, and its first step was YPG.

Now, let talk about the hottest event, what is the story behind the last clashes in al- Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo?

To answer this question, we have to see the whole picture, provocations have started by attacking our areas in the villages of Derbalout and Diwan as well as kidnapping civilians and banditry; the last one was the attempt of arm-twisting by their attack on the neighborhood of al- Sheikh Maqsoud believing that it is the weakest link because it is far from the center of gravity Efrin and due to the difficulties of ensuring logistic support, as the neighborhood besieged for more than a week and the humanitarian situation there is so bad specially because the neighborhood is inhabited by more than 250000 civilians from all society constituents.

We also draw attention to the point that the national members in the opposition were disturbed about this attack on the neighborhood of al- Sheikh Maqsoud, I, in turn, wondered and would you like you to wonder like me, who benefit from this attack? And who benefit from opening a front against the Kurds? What is the advantages?

Simply, Jabhat al- Nusra, al- Soltan Morad Brigade and Ahrar al- Sham Movement are agents for another force in fighting Kurds, and this force or the third party gave them the orders to open this front.

What is the prospect of the battle in Aleppo, is it a defensive or offensive measure?

From our side, the battle is defensive; we respond to the sources of fire and protect the outskirt of the neighborhood. But if the same situation continue surely we are going take more stringent measures, and we are going to change the battle into the offensive position, I do not say that we are going to control more areas but I assure that we are going to hurt them and targeting their held areas.

Do you think that Ahrar al- Sham, Jabhat al- Nusra, al- Zinki and other factions may alley themselves to attack Efrin?

Jabhat al- Nusra believe in Bay’ah (in Islamic terminology, is an oath of allegiance to a leader) and does not believe in alliances simply because it does not believe in partnership, it endeavors to control all the factions exist in its-held areas whether by force or enticement by lining the pockets. In addition, it is practically controls Nour al- Din Zinki Movement, part of al- Shamiyyah Front like al- Sham Legion and even with Soqor al- Jabal battalions supported by US. However, anyone refuses to join Jabhat al- Nusra is going to be assassinated as what happened to Hazem Movement, the Syrian revolutionaries Front and the Division Jabhat al- Nusra is unveiling the reality of its method that is assassination or control, and after that it will mobilize against Efrin. Here, I want to add something, it saddened us that are some in the Free Syrian Army who do not differ from Jabhat al- Nusra in their actions.

Is the truce in Kefrayya and al- Fu’ah in the countryside of Idlib will have negative effect on Efrin particularly on Atmah and Jandires front?

We do not count very much on this agreement as it is a periodical and tactical one; we hope to be a success to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of civilians, women and children on both sides. However, as realistic reading, we do not expect it to be a success especially after many breaches occurred in the past 2 days. Concerning Jabhat al- Nusra, we are enemies and what made the situation getting worse is the declarations issued by it several times that when they finish fighting in al- Fu’ah they are going to attack Efrin. Regardless al- Zabadani – al- Fu’ah agreement, the war between us has been declared for a time sometimes directly and sometime indirectly.

How do you evaluate the current the situation in al- Hasakah, and what is your goal in the area?

From the military aspect, the situation from al- Hasakah to Kobani is a defensive one. So, after expelling Daesh from al- Hasakah, Kobani and Tal Abyad our units are deployed defensively to repel any possible attack carried by IS militants.

We view al- Hasakah as a nucleus of the new democratic Syria. For this reason, we are working on establishing joint councils includes Kurds, Arabs and Syriacs, and on increasing the communication among all constituents. So, the success of our project in al- Hasakah is the motivation to fine similar solution that could be applied on the whole Syria where Syria will be free and democratic for all people.

What about the ongoing military actions in the countryside of Kobani?

The military operation in the countryside of Kobani is under the military operation room of Burkan al- Forat that includes YPG and some factions of the Free Army, so this operation is going to continue until we reach al- Raqqa and expel Daesh from it. YPG is committed to providing all kinds of support to the factions of the Free Army affiliated to the military operation room of Burkan al- Forat in order to defeat Daesh and retake al- Raqqa.

Were you going to achieve these glory victories in Kobani without US-led coalition support?

To be realistic, we cannot deny the role offered by US-led coalition in Kobani battle but frankly speaking, I confirm that the legendary resistance and courage of our fighters as well as their ability to scarify their blood were behind these victories. So, US-led coalition had an important role but it is not the most important one.

Under these victories, there are some parties accuse you of seeking to secede from Syria in order to establish a Kurdish entity.

These are false accusations; the Turkish government underlies them where it tries to portray any Kurdish strife as if it is a secessionist movement. Rather, those who repeat these accusations should communicate with us and see our project, then they will discover that our main project for Syria is establishing a pluralist parliamentary democratic system, and that it is Syrian project par excellence for all the constituents of Syrian people. It is the real guarantee for the unity of Syria, so stop repeating Erdogan speech like parrots. I would like also to ask them, is the stay of Daesh in Jarablus and the countryside of Aleppo is a guarantee for the unity of Syria?

What is your response about that YPG displaces the Arabs from their regions?

Frankly speaking, we got bored of these blatant lies and falsehoods, we issued a formal statement about that, as well as many human rights organizations have refuted these allegations. In war, it is very normal that the civilians will leave the clashing areas towards safer places, and that what happened in all the clashing areas in Syria from Horan to Qamishlo, but those who have been disturbed by our victories and tolerance and humanity turned to confuse what we have achieved. In addition, we have repeatedly launched appeals for the citizens to return to their homes, and allow me to reiterate the call from your rostrum to all citizens on order to come back to their homes.

Too much talk about your relation with the regime especially after al- Hasakah clashes, how do you explain this relation if any?  

“These accusations are the same of accusations of seeking to secede, so those who repeat such accusations have closed their minds on two ways, whether to be with me or with the regime. I said to them that we are the third line. Our revolution against injustice and tyranny has its own special way that is nor similar to anything. We are convinced of the impossibility of the military solution for the Syria crisis but it should be a cultural, intellectual and political one. Therefore, we depend on ensuring protection to the citizen who will build new democratic Syria; the peaceful Syria. We are friends of people and friends of all those who want democracy and equality.

Earlier, you held a truce with Jabhat al- Nusra and other Islamist factions, if there is any mediation are you going to hold a truce with “Islamic State”?

Our conviction is that Daesh is a force of darkness; it bears no relation to Islam and the humanity. It is a criminal force established to destroy all what is human. In my opinion, there is no big difference between Jabhat al- Nusra and Daesh but the war with al- Nusra is a little bit complicated because there are many Syrians in its ranks and because there are some parties attempting to burnish its image on media. As for the truce, there was no truce between only Jabhat al- Nusra and us but it always was with several factions and Jabhat al- Nusra was signing with them on the truce.

Lastly, what is your vision for the realistic solution of Syria crisis?

Unfortunately, what is happening in Syria, we can call it clashes of titans; it is more like a third world war, where the major powers are fighting to divide the zones of influence in the world.

The solution is not in the hand of Syrian now. It is in the hands of the contesting powers. We see it a war of change of maps, divisions, agreements and mentalities that are hundreds years old. Syria is also a conflict center and the solution of disputes will be on its land. Unfortunately, our point of view is that the war may take dozens of years, and all what the Syrian people can do is having the will and the attempt to achieve a joint project that protects them, reduce the losses and help them to promote strongly at the end of war.

“The war will not stop in Syria but it will extend to all the Middle East and my extend more than that, and then will see a reverse migration from all countries towards Syria which will be the safest country.

Source: SOHR

Kurdish-Arab Rebel Alliance May be Key to Obama’s Syrian Strategy

*Kurdish-Arab Rebel Alliance May be Key to Obama’s Syrian Strategy


By Mutlu Civiroglu and Wladimir Van Wilgenburg

Now that the anti-ISIS coalition has struck Raqqa in Syria, it must seriously consider the Kurds as its most effective on the ground partners. The Obama administration needs local partners in Iraq and Syria to fight against the jihadist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, ISIL, or the Islamic State) if it hopes to maintain any gains resulting from its attacks on ISIS positions.

A spokesperson of the main Kurdish armed group in Syria highlighted the importance of Kurdish assets. “Whoever wants to destroy ISIS should take YPG into consideration. Let me say clearly that any strategy in Syria without YPG is doomed to fail,” the People’s Protection Units (YPG) spokesperson Polat Can said in our interview with him. Given the Kurds’ extensive experience and professionalism, they represent the best the best chance to revitalize a beleaguered Syrian resistance and help President Obama achieve his objectives.

In his September 10 speech, President Obama ruled out the Assad regime as a partner in fighting ISIS and emphasized strengthening the Syrian opposition. “We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all,” he said. While admirable that the president choose not to work with a man whose preferred strategy involves bombing his own civilian population, it leaves a dearth of effective partners on the ground. However, in Syria—just as in Iraq—cooperation between Kurds and Arabs could play a key role in eliminating ISIS. US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey recognized the fact that Kurds constitute an important part of Obama’s new strategy to fight ISIS.

Although Iraq has witnessed firsthand the effects of ISIS-induced instability, neighboring Syria has suffered far more with the advances and atrocities of the extremist group. ISIS has succeeded in wiping out many Syrian nationalist armed groups that comprise the bulk of moderate anti-Assad opposition. Both the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Kurds have faced attacks by ISIS, leading to incredibly large refugee flows into Turkey.

Nonetheless, the Kurdish YPG forces have successfully fought ISIS and won most of its battles in both Iraq and Syria. Not only was the YPG an asset in the rescue operation for thousands of Yezidis fleeing from Iraq’s Sinjar, it also secured a wide area in northern Syria from the Kurdish city of Afrin to Yarubiya, a town border to Iraq, despite the extremist push against Kurdish villages. These regions maintain relative stability compared to other parts of Syria, allowing Kurds, Arabs, and Christians to live peacefully together, thanks in large part to the ability of the YPG to keep a modicum of security.

Western diplomats have traditionally been reluctant to meet the PYD for their ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), viewed as a terrorist group in the United States and Turkey. After successful operations against ISIS extremists, however, both countries have begun reevaluating their positions towards it. The Wall Street Journal reported that US officials recognize the fact that Kurdish fighters in Syria may play a critical role in the campaign against ISIS, and have conducted talks with Syrian Kurds. The success of the YPG also prompted Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman to write about how the fight against ISIS has given the YPG and the PKK more legitimacy.

For their part, the Syrian Kurds have not only expressed interest and enthusiasm in pursuing Obama strategy against ISIS, they have already laid the groundwork for cooperation with Syrian nationalists. In an interview with Voice of America (VOA), YPG Spokesman Polat Can said, “We are the most experienced military force fighting against IS, and we are willing to actively participate in the international coalition. We are currently meeting many countries on this issue including with those who are decision makers.”

As the YPG continue its fight against ISIS on several fronts, it hosted a former rival on August 22. FSA Colonel Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi sought to mend fences with the Kurds by meeting YPG commander with General Commander of YPG Sipan Hemo in the Kurdish city of Afrin, north of Aleppo. Al-Oqaidi, the former head of the FSA’s military council in Aleppo, initially angered the Kurds by fighting jointly with Islamist groups against the Kurds in Aleppo. The FSA said it attacked the YPG for supporting Assad. Kurds allege this led to the killing of nineteen Kurdish civilians and the kidnapping of at least 400 others by the various rebel groups.

But in January last year, alliances started to change, when the Free Syrian Army clashed with ISIS, and lost huge swaths of territory in Syria, including Raqqa and the oil fields in Deir Ezzor. This led new cooperation between rebel groups and the Kurds, resulting in an agreement between the YPG and the Ahl as-Sham operation room in April last year to fight ISIS in Aleppo, and to cooperate against Assad. On August 22, al-Akidi and an FSA-delegation apologized for the FSA’s past mistakes, saying that Kurds, Christians, and Arabs, should work for the overthrow of the Syrian regime. “We want to work with the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the FSA if they accept the rights of Kurdish people and correct past mistakes,” Hemo said in a video.

In an exclusive interview, the Defense Minister of local Afrin Canton government Abdo Chilo, who took part in the meeting between the YPG and the FSA in Afrin, also told the Atlantic Council that the FSA wants to open a new page with the Kurds. “We told him we accepted his apology and we valued his visit. He realizes the power of YPG and wants closer relations with us, something we have long desired as well.”

The Kurds appear ready to fight alongside any secular group that will work for a pluralistic and democratic Syria against ISIS and the Assad regime. “We value Akidi’s visit and his request of help from YPG. It shows his willingness to work and create something good. We are ready to form a joint front with FSA and work against IS thugs and the brutal Assad regime,” Chilo added.

YPG spokesman Polat Can told Turkey’s daily Radikal that they are ready to work with anyone who is willing to fight against ISIS. “It has been over two years that we have been fighting against ISIS and like-minded extremist groups. We are keen on collaborating with moderate that respect to democracy, human rights and accept our national rights as Kurds.”

This historic meeting signifies a major starting point for effective cooperation against ISIS as well as the Assad regime. The meeting led to the formation of a new joint FSA-YPG operations room named “Euphrates Volcano” on September 10 in Kobane, which will carry out operations in areas surrounding Kobane, including the ISIS-stronghold of Raqqah. One day after its formation, the joint operation room carried out its first attack against ISIS in Qara Qawzak.

Abdurrahman Saleh, a spokesperson for ISIS, confirmed in our interview with him an alliance between Syrian anti-Assad rebels and Kurds, but suggested it to be a local alliance rather than a cohesive policy. “Some battalions of al-Tawheed brigade in Aleppo cooperate with the YPG against ISIS, but I do not know if this is a general decision, or a specific case. It may be a local agreement, rather than an overall strategy,” he said.

The new rebel alliance between the Kurds and the FSA could provide a determining factor to stop the expansion of the ISIS caliphate. If the FSA and the YPG can maintain a joint front, it will likely have a major impact on the success of fight both the militant group and the Assad regime in the longer run. The YPG, with its experienced and skilled fighters and strong popular support can provide a morale boost for the secular and moderate Syrian opposition and be a determining factor in preventing ISIS expansion in Syria. For Obama and the anti-ISIS coalition, keeping the Kurds incentivized to be their boots on the ground will be the key to fighting this war.

Mutlu Civiroglu is a Kurdish affairs analyst focusing on Syria and Turkey. He has been closely monitoring YPG’s fight against IS and other jihadist groups. You can follow him on Twitter @mutludc

Wladimir van Wilgenburg is an analyst of Kurdish politics for the Jamestown Foundation and a contributing writer for Al-Monitor

* This article was originally published on Atlantic Council Website on September 23,  2014

YPG Chief Commander Sipan Hemo: Kurds in Syria ‘Deserve’ US Support


Sipan Hemo is the commander-in-chief of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), perhaps the most organized fighting force in Syria. Based in predominantly Kurdish areas, which are known as Rojava, the YPG has fought Islamic groups for two years and is controlling security for the region.

In a wide-ranging interview, Hemo addressed the state of the current conflict in Syria and the rise of Islamic extremist militias in Iraq and Syria, which he claims is intertwined with global powers. Hemo also makes the case why YPG and the Kurds should receive US funding.

Rudaw: Mr. Hemo, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which you have fought for a long time, has received a lot of international attention since they took Mosul. What are your thoughts on ISIS as an organization and its attacks in Iraq?

Sipan Hemo: To understand the latest attacks by ISIS in Iraq, you have to understand the background as well. ISIS was shaped by some powers about a year and a half ago to carry out their plans in Syria. ISIS isn’t a random Al-Qaeda organization. We have intelligence on them. There are documents that we acquired. There are also the statements taken from members we captured. When we put all these pieces together, we reached to the conclusion that ISIS was directed under the command of some intelligence services and their agents to implement the policies of certain states in Syria. The most recent developments, as well as what occurred earlier, prove that our theory is correct.

A city like Mosul or some other cities in Iraq aren’t the types of places that a group can take overnight. It’s clear there have been preparations underway for a long time. There are various forces behind these preparations and behind those who launched these attacks. It’s impossible for a city like Mosul to fall under a group’s control without the intelligence apparatuses of international powers knowing it’s happening. Thousands of armed people get together, transfer their heavy artillery and move forward to attack a city like Mosul. It’s illogical that no one was aware of this. Mosul and Kirkuk constitute only one part of these attacks. These are attempts to divide the region in a different way. These are attempts to turn people, cultures, societies, beliefs and groups against each other. These are the attempts to drag the Middle East into a civil war — to have fighting and to create a quagmire. This will serve the interests of international powers, beginning with the arms trade.

To understand the latest attacks by ISIS in Iraq, you have to understand the background as well. ISIS was shaped by some powers about a year and a half ago to carry out their plans in Syria.

We, as YPG, fought in battles with Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) against ISIS gangs in the town of Rabia (on the Syrian-Iraqi border) and in some places near Shangal (Iraq). It doesn’t matter whether it’s Rojava, Mosul or Kirkuk: if required, we YPG, are prepared to use our experience and abilities with our people in the south to fight along the same front against these gangs — this so-called ISIS — to protect our land and victories.

Returning to the subject of ISIS, what seems clear from their actions on the ground is that this organization is at the service of several intelligence agencies and it acts in accordance with their interests. Specifically, there are some western countries — along with the Turkish state on one side and Iran, Iraq and Syria on the other — that have their own plans and calculations over ISIS. In a way, ISIS was merely turning itself into a stick made of fire and everybody was willing to use this stick against one another. They were taking steps in this direction. In other words, these intelligence services have attempted to use this cruel, terrorist structure — created by those who don’t know anything about humanity, leave alone civil law — against one another and against the people in the region.

Rudaw: Is it possible that the ISIS is also using some of the states that support them?

Sipan Hemo: Of course! By standing out with its shrewdness, ISIS has taken advantage of the intelligence services of these countries in a very cunning way in order to establish its own rule all around the region. For example, it’s been almost two years since ISIS began atrociously attacking the Kurds in Rojava. Why has ISIS been attacking or has been made to attack the Kurds? This is because ISIS knew very well that only when it was done attacking the Kurds it could have binding ties with the Turkish intelligence service. And indeed it happened this way because through our fight against them on the ground, we could uncover their true intentions. When they fought us, ISIS was using Turkey’s borders without the objecting of Turkish army and authorities; they were treating all of their wounded militants in Turkish hospitals. Some may say this is an allegation. However, we have official documents in our hands backing what I am saying. One of the ISIS commanders in our captivity said he was treated at Ceylanpinar Public Hospital for nine days.

In reality, if it weren’t for the YPG and the Kurdish people’s struggle against ISIS over the last two years, ISIS would have done the same in northern Syria as what it’s done in Iraq the past few (weeks). They’ve done what they’ve done in Iraq to pave the way for a deep sectarian conflict. ISIS’s success in Iraq certainly isn’t normal. I can sincerely say that there’s no other power in the world that knows as much about ISIS as we do, and ISIS alone — without the backing of other powers — doesn’t have the capacity to take Mosul and capture areas as far as Samara. Can you believe that in just an hour and a half every government official in Mosul surrendered and gave away Mosul?

In reality, if it weren’t for the YPG and the Kurdish people’s struggle against ISIS over the last two years, ISIS would have done the same in northern Syria as what it’s done in Iraq the past few (weeks).

I want to state my views without lending credence to conspiracy theories: Iran, Iraq and Syria are parts of this plan. On the other hand, Turkey and other powers that are working together were also aware of this plan; they even took part in it in one way or another. Iran believes that the more the Middle East is dragged into a quagmire and chaos, the better their chances of protecting their own interests. This is because the western nations’ plans for the Middle East make their job extremely difficult. At the same time, Iran has the dream of uniting and protecting the Shia. In other words, Iran is trying to build sovereignty over the crescent of Shia from Iran all the way through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This dream can only be possible via the deepening of a sectarian conflict.

Rudaw: Where does Turkey stand in this picture that you are describing?

Sipan Hemo: There’s no doubt that Turkey has several distinct calculations. In its effort to assimilate and suppress the Kurds, and its policies of denial, Turkey won’t stop at anything to sabotage Kurdish gains. Turkey itself has always stated that it hasn’t given up its dreams for Mosul and Kirkuk. For this reason, Turkey instructed its special fighting units in Mosul not to fight, but to negotiate. The same instructions were also given to the soldiers protecting the Suleiman Shah Tomb in Kobane. By working with ISIS, Turkey has, for a long time, been changing and renewing her forces at Suleiman Shah Tomb. Turkey hasn’t ever felt uncomfortable about this, nor has any global power.

Of course what I’m saying isn’t valid for the people of Turkey. Innocently, and without being aware of the policies that their government implemented, they’ve been dragged into a catastrophe. I am sure that the people of Turkey aren’t at all happy about this. Unfortunately, however, those powers in Turkey who adopted this unsuccessful policy made Turkey a partner in these dirty games as well. The fact that ISIS is still holding hostage the Turkish diplomatic staff (at the consulate in Mosul) and Turkey’s truck drivers is a plan of Turkish state. The Turkey that we know shouldn’t have acted so passively in this kind of a situation! What happened to the phrase, “A Turk is worth the world!” What has changed? Now so many people from Turkey are in the hands of the gangs but they’re acting so passively. This means that there are things that are organized behind “closed doors.”

If America and other western countries really want democracy and foster the development of democracy in the region then they should acknowledge Kurds.

Rudaw: There are serious discussions in Washington about arming a “moderate” Syrian opposition. What do you think of this? Who are the “moderate opposition?”

Sipan Hemo: Supporting the moderate opposition is among the policies discussed in the US. Isn’t it too late for this? Why has it taken so long? The conflict in Syria is in its fourth year. Firstly, the US should think about what its support for the Syrian opposition has accomplished so far.

Furthermore, whom has the US supported so far if it’s now deciding to support the moderate opposition? This is also a question that comes to mind. As far as we know, the US and western countries have supported certain groups in Syria since 2001. This is nothing new. Maybe they’ve just now realized that their policies over the last three years were wrong.

I have information that the US has promised to support some groups it has contacted via its intelligence chief in Jordan. If the US sees them as “moderate,” then we need to ask what “moderate” means. If the US is serious about this statement, then the Kurds and YPG deserve this support the most. As a matter of fact, I can state that the Kurds are ready in all respects to play a pioneering role for democracy in Syria.

Supporting the moderate opposition is among the policies discussed in the US. Isn’t it too late for this? Why has it taken so long?

We, the Kurds in Rojava, have faced all kinds of attacks over the last four years. We’ve been involved in a relentless war against (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad’s regime forces, against groups supported by outside powers, and against groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda, in areas stretching all the way from Afrin to the Jazira region. Al-Qaeda groups have taken control of all of northern Syria except the Kurdish areas. This is a huge victory not only for the Kurds but also for the western world.

We, as the official military forces of Rojava, have stated that we’re prepared to fight ISIS in Mosul. At this point, I’d like to state first to President Barak Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, and then to the people of America: If they don’t want the situation in the Middle East to descend further into chaos, then Washington absolutely needs to change its policy toward the Kurds. This is because the policies thus far haven’t done much to help anyone. Unfortunately, the US to this day hasn’t yet explained where the Kurds in Syria stand politically and what kind of role they play for democracy in Syria. I’d just like to say this: If the goal truly is for democracy to come to the Middle East, and if the moderate forces in Syria are going to be supported, the Kurds are prepared for this and are the ones who deserve it the most.

Rudaw: Your successes against ISIS and other radical Islamic groups have garnered a lot of global media coverage. What do you think of the world’s assessment of YPG? Do you have ties with global powers?

Sipan Hemo: Indeed, YPG’s founding pre-dates the revolution in Syria. Specifically, when the attacks against the Kurdish people in Qamishli (Syria) occurred in 2004, there was a secret decision to create defense apparatuses. Some work was done at that time. So these defense units were created before the revolution in Syria.

However, when the Arab Spring began in Syria, in order to set the Kurdish regions free and to protect the Kurdish victories, YPG started to take action and has been doing so since 2011.

First, on July 19, 2012, we led the effort to drive enemies out of the Kurdish regions, and then we continued to struggle to preserve this victory. Later, YPG declared that it would stand against any threat to the Kurds. YPG declared that it would respond to everyone, regardless of who they might be, if they don’t accept the existence of the Kurds; if they want to overshadow Kurdish victories; and if they plot against the Kurds or make other plans. We’ve been struggling against these kinds of threats to today. We wanted to stay away from politics, or, in a sense, we didn’t want to be involved in a political argument. We’ve been operating according to this principle.

YPG declared that it would respond to everyone, regardless of who they might be, if they don’t accept the existence of the Kurds.

With regard to your question, I’ll pose a question as well: have Kurdish politics been able to change our position to a diplomatic one? Unfortunately, no! Kurdish politics has fallen short in this regard. There are some different reasons behind this. For example, the global powers haven’t understood the politics in Rojava, nor have they decided yet how to deal with it. They also want to make it possible for the central government to do what they want. However, the politics harbored in Rojava aren’t in line with what the world powers want.

Rudaw: Has there been any change recently in the worldview about the YPG? I ask this because in some panels and conferences in Washington, the YPG is being mentioned frequently, especially your successes against ISIS and radical groups.

Sipan Hemo: If America and other western countries really want democracy and foster the development of democracy in the region then they should acknowledge Kurds. Today, in the Middle East, besides the Kurds, there is no other organized force to support democracy. The force that is both sophisticated and has the potential to bring everyone together is this force to which I refer.

If America and west really want democracy, they should build a close and firm relationship with the Kurds. Solving the Kurdish issue will put the global powers in a better and stronger position both in Rojava and anywhere else in the Middle East. This is because the Kurds aren’t imposing their own borders on anyone, and they aren’t isolating themselves from anyone. They talk about democracy. This means they talk about collectivity. The pro-democracy dialogue means they want to work with various groups.

There is a war here, and why is this war is being fought against us? This means we have views that don’t conform to those of radical Islamic groups. Regardless of their intentions, what’s happening in Rojava meshes with the west’s interests as well. One should consider whether they’d be better off if a regime like the (current) one survives in Syria or if there’s the kind of government that the Kurds want. The west’s interests weren’t being met until a cooperative system was formed in south Kurdistan, which shows that the Kurds are more in line with diversity and democracy.

YPG Chief Commander Sipan Hemo: ‘Give Us Real Support’

Sipan Hemo, commander of the Kurdish Peoples Defence Units (YPG) in Syria, says that attacks by extremist Islamist groups against the Kurdish areas of Syria have not ceased in the past two months, but that his forces have repelled the attacks and defeated the jihadists.
He said in an interview with Rudaw that, despite the exodus of refugees from Syrian Kurdistan, “80 percent of the people have not gone anywhere and are supporting the YPG.” Hemo said that Kurds in Turkey should dramatically increase their political support for Syrian Kurds in their struggle for self-rule. “Showing affection or pity for us does not work,” he said.
A Kurdish fighter from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) fires towards Syrian government forces inside a building in the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of Aleppo, on April 21, 2013

A Kurdish fighter from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) fires towards Syrian government forces inside a building in the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of Aleppo, on April 21, 2013

Hemo added that leaders in the Kurdistan Region should also – once and for all – declare how they feel about “the Kurdish revolution in Rojava.” Here is an edited transcript of the interview:

You last spoke to our newspaper in July, what has been happening since then in the Kurdish areas?

Sipan Hemo: The Islamist groups plan to attack the Kurdish region in new ways, such as suicide attacks. They have threatened the Kurds with suicide attacks and they have attempted 18 suicide attacks but failed. The YPG has checkpoints and has tried to prevent such attacks. War has never been a priority for Kurds, yet the attacks forced us to take up arms. These radical groups are the affiliates of foreign forces, and they cannot tolerate Kurds gaining power. These attacks are targeting the Kurdish gains.

  These radical groups are the affiliates of foreign forces, and they cannot tolerate Kurds gaining power. These attacks are targeting the Kurdish gains.   


Despite your efforts to confront these groups, how long do you think these attacks will continue?

Sipan Hemo: Some of them are trying to end the fighting in some areas. But groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) insist on staging attacks. We will never let them into the Kurdish region, no matter how insistent they may be. But if they insist on continuing their attacks, it is they who will suffer, not us! The source of our power is the support of the people, and we trust ourselves, too. With that support and confidence we can counter anything. We have paid a high price and we have had martyrs for the last 64 days, but we did not let anyone cross our region. On the contrary, we have expanded our defense field in Derik and Serekaniye. They tried to defeat us in Aleppo, but did not succeed. They even keep away from our forces. In short, we are better off both in tactical and military skills.

Some argue that people do not support you as they did before, and that most people are said to be fleeing to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Sipan Hemo: As you all know, the war in Syria and the struggle for revolution took longer than expected and people suffered a lot. There is an economic crisis, health problems, people cannot get treatment. For all of these reasons people tried to survive and find new ways. Migration is one of these ways. Some people migrated to north (Turkish) Kurdistan, and some to south (Iraqi) Kurdistan. We cannot tell these people not to leave. For instance, children need immunization and here we are out of vaccines. When a person comes and says that his child will have a stroke without vaccines and you cannot provide vaccines, there is not much left to say. We cannot oppose migration related to these kinds of problems. There are also some who migrate for business reasons. Yet, 80 percent of the people have not gone anywhere and are supporting the YPG. If people weren’t left here we would not exist. YPG is the people itself.

In our last interview you said that Turkey was not an enemy and that you wanted to improve relations with Ankara. Have you seen any change in Turkey’s attitude? Do you think Ankara continues to support radical groups?

  These radical jihadists come from Turkey. Even if they come from other countries, they enter Syria through Turkey.   

Sipan Hemo: Unfortunately, the attitude of Turkish officials on that matter is very negative. They might think their current stance will benefit them in the future, but their stance will have huge negative results. These radical jihadists come from Turkey. Even if they come from other countries, they enter Syria through Turkey. They have direct connection with them, and they operate together. We know that during the clashes in Kobane these forces brought ammunition from Turkey. These groups have even met with the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) several times.  It is with Turkey’s support that these forces fight with us, and that reflects the position of the Turkish state very clearly. The Turkish people should not accept this and should react.

Turkey does not accept your allegations. Also, why do you think it supports such groups, for what purpose?

Sipan Hemo: A war between Kurds and Islamists would be in Turkey’s interest. Turkey has relations with the EU and US. For that reason it cannot accept these allegations. If Turkey accepts them, this would harm its international interests. But if the USA wants it can send experts and ascertain these allegations. These radical groups cross the Middle East through Turkey. Who could think that these radical groups cross Syria without the information of the MIT and the Turkish military? Everyone knows that without the knowledge of these two, even a bird cannot fly over the border. We have seen these radical groups get treated in Turkish hospitals. If they really want to know this, they can go to Ceylanpinar and see with their own eyes. Most of the radical Islamists are treated in this city. If this is not a proof of support, what other proof could I put forward to prove these facts? Maybe the whole world sees that Turkey helps these radical groups, but they all keep quiet.

Does Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) get any support from Kurds in Turkey?

Sipan Hemo: Kurds in Turkey tried to provide humanitarian aid such as food, vaccine, medicine. But I really think that north Kurdistan should approach Rojava in a revolutionary sense. Furthermore, the attacks in Rojava were staged from north Kurdistan by these radical Islamist forces. For instance, these groups had meetings in Gaziantep where they planned to attack Afrin. Could they not find just four people to go and protest in front of the hotel where they had these meetings? We find the reactions and approaches of north Kurdistan to Rojava inadequate. The support they provided does not go beyond humanitarian aid. They have been inadequate in demonstrating a revolutionary and political support. You can provide humanitarian aid to any people, but the support that you give to brothers and sisters in Rojava should have been different and from heart. They can support us in every field, and they should increase their political support. Showing affection or pity for us does not work.

 I really think that north Kurdistan should approach Rojava in a revolutionary sense. 


What would you say about the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)?

Sipan Hemo: I would like to thank our people in south Kurdistan. From the very beginning they have pursued a positive approach towards our revolution. Yet, Kurdistan officials have also pursued politics in their interest, similar to Turkish officials. I said that before — when clashes took place in Afrin – the Kurdistan Regional Government closed the border crossing. We could not even pass a wounded child through the gate. The Turks kept all border gates open for the (Jabhat)  al-Nusra front and such radical groups. The Kurdistan government’s attitude was very wrong and inflicted harm. Unfortunately, this attitude still continues. We would like to know this: What do Kurdish officials really think about the Kurdish revolution in Rojava? I have never heard any clear statement. Sometimes, we hear some positive statements, but only on a personal level which has no effect. I really ask them, what do Kurdish officials think politically of Rojava? There are times that they act very negatively towards our military units.

Recently, there has been more news in the American press about the presence of al-Qaeda in Syria. And retired former CIA deputy director Mike Morell has said that the biggest threat against America’s national security is al-Qaeda in Syria. What do you think about this?

Sipan Hemo: In our view, the United States has responsibilities towards us and the region. America has been fighting al-Qaeda for many years now. Yet, what we have achieved against al-Qaeda is much more than the United States has done. Of course, we do not fight with these groups for America. We fight against these people for the sake of humanity and ourselves, as we see these groups being a threat to humanity and enlightenment. America has responsibilities on that matter and should fulfill these responsibilities. The American people face the same threats that we face at the hands of these radical Islamist groups. American people should be concerned about Kurds in Syria. Just in the way that these radical Islamist jihadists attacked America on 9/11, they tried a similar attempt to attack us. I cannot see a difference between the attack on the Twin Towers and an attack on Serekaniye. It is the same violence.

Fermandarê Giştî yê YPGê, Sîpan Hemo:Cihadiyekî ku Me Kuştî Amerîkî Bû

Serêkanîyê (Rûdaw) – Fermandarê Giştî yê Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG) Sîpan Hemo di vê hevpeyvîna ligel Rûdawê de red dike ku ew baskê leşkerî yê ti partîyekê bin. Ew herwiha red dike ku ew ser bi PYDê ve bin û dibêje berîya şoreşa Sûrîyê di sala 2009ê de ew ligel partîyan civîyane û behsa dirustkirina vê hêzê kirine. Lê tenê PYDê amadebûna xwe nîşan daye ku hevkarîya wan bike.

Hevpeyvîn: Mutlu Çiviroğlu

Fermandarê giştî yê YPGê, Sîpan Hemo:Cihadiyekî ku me kuştî amerîkî bû

Êlên Çelaxa û Cibûrî û pirranîya navçeyê piştgirîya me dikin

Rûdaw: Hinek pevçûnên we ligel grûpa Cebhet el Nusra li derveyî navçeyên kurdî ne. Gelo xelkên wan navçeyan piştgirîya we dikin?


Sîpan Hemo: Hinek Erebên gundnişîn piştgirîya YPGê dikin. Ji ber ku YPG li ser daxwaza wan çû wan deveran. Êlên Çelaxa û Cibûrî û pirranîya navçeyê piştgirîya me dikin. Di pevçûnên me yên vê dawîyê de me li dijî gellek çekdarên bîyanî şer kir ku bi rêya Tirkîyeyê hatine nav axa Sûrîyê. Wek mînak ewên ku li Serê Kanîyê hatine kuştin hevwelatîyên welatên wek Misr, Erebistana Siûdî û Tûnisê bûn. Yek ji Cîhadîyan jî amerîkî bû, herwiha pirranîya çekdarên li Til Koçer kuştî jî pasportên iraqî û yên welatên din bi wan re hebûn.

Bi bawerîya hinek pisporan, hebûna Kurdên sêkûlar li deverê sûdê digihîne Amerîka û welatên rojava li dijî grûpên çekdar.

Em Kurd demokrat, pêşverû û sîngfireh in li deverê. Li Herêma Kurdistanê binêre! Ew mînaka herî baş e ji bo teqezkirina gotina min. Heta niha ti neteweyên ereb negihiştine wê pêşketina wan. Tew Kurd dikarin ji wiha baştir jî bin. Lewma di berjewendîya Amerîka û welatên rojava de ye ku li Kurdên Rojavayê Kurdistanê û şîyanên wan mikur bên.


Pêwist e rojava bi çi awayî nêzîkî Kurdan bibe?

Jixwe welatên rojava Kurdistan çar parçe kir. Mixabin welatên rojava niha jî vî karî dikin û berdewam in li ser piştguhxistina têkoşîna Kurdan. Pêwist e bi Kurdan re gotûbêjan bikin û kêşeyên girêdayî deverên kurdî piştguh nexin. Ji ber ku eger Kurd statuyekê li Rojhilata Navîn bi dest bînin, bêguman Amerîka û welatên rojava sûdmend dibin.

Krîza Sûrîyê gihiştîye derîyekî girtî. Bi dîtina we, krîz çawa dikare çareser bibe?

Şoreşa Sûrîyê gihiştîye rewşeke xetimî. Bi gotineke din, Îslamîyên tundxwaz wek pêşeng tên dîtin. Ev jî gefê li ser Amerîka û rojava dirust dike. Alozîyên di navbera Elewî û Sunîyan de gihiştine xalekê ku jê veger tine. Çareserîya wan kêşeyan jî naskirina Kurdan û dayîna mafên wan e. Ji xeynî Kurdan, çareserîya kêşeya kurd ne li ba ti kesî ye. Eger Amerîka û rojava hesabê Kurdan nekin, wê Îslamîyên tundxwaz desthilatê zeft bikin û bi vî rengî wê Sûrî parçe parçe bibe.

Tevî Tirkîye bi Kurdên xwe re di nava proseya aştîyê de ye, lê ji rewşa Kurdên Sûrîyê dilteng e

Çawa Tirkîye rê dide Îslamîyên tundrew ku bêne nav Sûrîyê, di demekê de ku Enqare bi Kurdên Bakur re di proseya aştîyê de ye?

Bi rastî rewşeke pirr seyr e. Tevî ku Tirkîye bi Kurdên xwe re di nava proseya aştîyê de ye, lê ji rewşa Kurdên Sûrîyê dilteng e. Ev herdu tevger berevajî hev in. Me di demeke kêm de gellek qezenc bidest xistin. Heta niha Kurdan li hersê parçeyên din bi vê lezê qezenc wiha bidest nexistine.

Em Kurd ji destpêkê de bêalî mane û neçûne ser bi ti alî ve. Em dizanin ku ji bo seranserê Sûrîyê em nikarin tiştekî bikin. Lê herdem me teqez kirîye ku em dikarin navçeyên kurdî biparêzin. Lê Tirkîye ji helwêsta me nerehet bû. Ewa ku Tirkîye dilteng kirîye ew e ku Kurd fermanrewayîya navçeyên xwe dikin. Berpirsên tirk vê dawîyê ragihandin ku desttêwerdanê dikin.

Gelo hûn li ser Tirkîyeyê gef in?

Berevajî van tiştên ku berê derbarê me de hatine gotin, em xwe wek hevalên welatîyên tirk dibînin. Em alîgirê wan kesan in, ewên ku dikarin demokrasîyê di navçeyê de ber bi pêş ve bibin. Eger ev navçe têkeve bin destê Îsalmîyên tundrew, ev dibe karesat ji bo Rojhilata Navîn û cihanê jî. Qezencên me sûdê digihînin welatîyên tirk û navçeyê.

  Piştî serketina leşkerî, navçe dikeve bin destê Desteya Bilind a Kurdî û ala desteyê lê tê hildan  

Hildana ala YPGê li ser dergehê sînor yê Serê Kanîyê hinek berpirsên tirk dilteng kir. Çima hûn xwe ji van reftaran dûr naxînin?

Ne pêwîst e wek kêşeyekê li vê bê nêrîn. Li hemû navçeyên ku dikevin bin kontrola me de, em ala YPGê hildidin. Lê pêwîst e vê yekê jî bêjim ku navçeyên kurdî di bin destê Desteya Bilind a Kurdî (DBK) de ne. Ew navçeyê birêve dibe. Piştî serketina leşkerî, navçe dikeve bin destê Desteya Bilind a Kurdî û ala desteyê lê tê hildan.

Partîyên kurdî dibêjin ku YPG tenê beskekî leşkerî yê PYDê ye.

Mixabin ev babet pirr caran hatîye gurkirin. Dema me biryar da ku em YPGê damezirînin, me serdana hemû partîyan kir, ne tenê PYDê. Herwiha me serdana serokê Herêma Kurdistanê Mesûd Barzanî jî kir. Me li derîyê gellek partî, xelk û berpirsan da. Me ji hemû partîyan re ragihand ku em bi nîyaz in ku hêzeke leşkerî li Rojavayê Kurdistanê damezrînin. Dibe bi bîra te bê ku çend êriş li ser Kurdan hatine kirin. Wek mînak êrişa sala 2004ê ya li Qamişloyê. Herwiha êrişa sala 2007ê ya Reqayê. Ji bo rêgirtinê li ber van êrişan, me pêwîst dît ku em hêzeke xwe ya leşkerî damezrînin. Lê hemû partîyên ku em bi wan re axivîn bîrokeya hêza leşkerî red kirin. gotin damezrandina hêzeke bi vî celebî giran dibe. Bi bawerî PYDê di hewldanên me de arîkarîya me kir. Di nav yekînîyên YPGê de endamên partîyên kurdî yên din li kêleka endamên PYDê hene, wek Partîya Pêşverû ya Demokrat, Partîya Yekîtî ya Demokrat a Kurdî, Partîya Çep a Kurdî, Partîya Demokrat a Kurdî ya Sûrî, Aşûrî û hinek partîyên din.

Dixwazim careke din dubare bikim ku em ne baskê leşkerî yê ti partîyê ne. Em di bin fermandarîya Desteya Bilind a Kurdî de ne. Em xebatê ji bo parastina navçeyên kurdî dikin. Heta ku kêşeya asayişî li Rojavayê Kurdistanê hebe, YPG dimîne. Bi rastî ev yekem car e ku bi awayekî fermî ji bo nêrîna giştî radigihînim: Sala 2009ê me hemû partî dîtin, dibe ku ji bo berjewendîyên partîyên xwe wan ev tişt behs nekiribin.

YPG Chief Commander Hemo: Kurds Are Bulwark Against Islamic Extremism in Syria

Sipan Hemo, commander of the controversial People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Syria, is adamant: “We are not a military wing of any party,” he says in an interview with Rudaw. Hemo denies that the militia is part of the dominant Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has taken control of Syria’s Kurdish areas and has friendly ties with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PYD has been accused by some of shady ties with the Damascus regime, and of heavy-handed rule over the Kurdish regions.
Hemo, whose fighters have been recently involved in deadly clashes with the radical Islamic Jabhat al-Nusra, says that Turkey has nothing to fear from the YPG units. “We see radical Islam as a threat not only to ourselves, but also to the Turkish people and the world as well,” he insists.
Sipan Hemo: Some of the Arab villagers support YPG. Actually, it was upon their request that the YPG went there. The Jalagha and Jiburi tribes support the YPG. Most of the region supports the YPG. I have to point out that in the recent clashes we have been fighting against many foreigners, who are entering Syria from Turkey. For instance, the ones killed in Serekaniye were the citizens of other countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. One of the jihadists was a US citizen! Many of the militants killed in Tel Kochar were carrying Iraqi and other passports.
YPG Commander: Kurds Are Bulwark Against Islamic Extremism in Syria
A female member of the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG). Her units have been locked in fierce clashes with members of the radical Jabhat al-Nusrah near the border with Turkey. Photo: AFP

  We Kurds are a democratic, progressive, and tolerant people in the region.  

Rudaw: What do you think about the presence of Al-Qaeda in Syria? Some experts believe that the more secular Kurds are a blessing for the US and the West against these groups.

Sipan Hemo: We Kurds are a democratic, progressive, and tolerant people in the region. Look at the Kurdistan Region! It is the best example of what I am saying. None of the Arab nations have reached such an advanced level. Kurdish people have potential to even create better than this. Therefore, it is in the interest of the US and the West to acknowledge the Kurds (in Syria) and their potential.

Rudaw: How do you think the West should approach the Kurds?

Sipan Hemo: It was the West that divided Kurdistan into four parts, leaving Kurds under the governance of chauvinistic states that have denied us and carried out assimilation policies. Unfortunately, they are still doing the same thing, and continue to ignore the Kurdish struggle. They should talk with Kurds, and take them into account on issues related to the region. If Kurds gain status in the Middle East, it will certainly benefit the US and the West as well.

Rudaw: The Syrian crisis has arrived at an impasse. What do you think is the way out?

 Therefore, it is in the interest of the US and the West to acknowledge the Kurds (in Syria) and their potential. 

Sipan Hemo: The Syrian Revolution has reached a critical point. In other words, radical Islamists are seen in the forefront. This poses a threat to the US and the West. The conflict between the Alevis and Sunnis has reached an irreversible point. This issue can only be resolved through recognizing the Kurds and granting their rights. Nobody other than Kurds can remedy this problem. If the US and the West do not take Kurds into account, radical Islamists will take over, and that will cause Syria to break up.

Rudaw: You just mentioned there are many foreigner fighters in the Jabhat al-Nusra and that they enter from Turkey. How would you say Turkey is letting these radical Islamists into Syria, while Ankara is involved in a peace process with the Kurds in Turkey?

Sipan Hemo: This is indeed a very striking situation. Although Turkey is in the middle of a peace process with its Kurdish population, it is uneasy about the situation of Kurds inside Syria. This might seem like a contradiction, but we know that it is not. Kurds in the other three parts of Kurdistan (Turkey, Iran and Iraq) have never achieved such gains in a short period of time. The gains achieved in western (Syrian) Kurdistan happened very fast, and these gains already have and will have some results in the region.

As Kurds, our position has been from the beginning to remain neutral and not take the side of the regime or the opposition. We know we cannot do anything for the rest of Syria, but on every occasion we have emphasized that we can protect our own Kurdish region in Syria. But Turkey got uncomfortable with our stance. What discomforts Turkey is the fact that Kurds govern the Kurdish region. Turkish officials recently announced that they will not stay indifferent to the development alongside their borders and will interfere. The main reason for this announcement is the gains of Kurds alongside the Turkey’s border.

 Although Turkey is in the middle of a peace process with its Kurdish population, it is uneasy about the situation of Kurds inside Syria.  

Rudaw: Do you really pose a threat to Turkey? Are Turkey’s concerns justified?

Sipan Hemo: Contrary to what has been said we, as the YPG, see ourselves as friends of the Turkish people. We side with those who can contribute to the advancement of democracy in the region. If the region gets under the control of radical Islamists, that would be a disaster for the Middle East. We see radical Islam as a threat not only to ourselves, but also to the Turkish people and the world as well. Our achievements in Syria will be beneficial to the Turkish people and the people in the region.

Rudaw: Raising the YPG flag at the Serekaniye border gate has made some Turkish officials uneasy.

Sipan Hemo: This should not be seen as a problem at all. We raise the YPG flag in the areas where we take under control to mark our achievement. But, I need to stress that the Kurdish region is under the control of the Supreme Kurdish Council (SKC). It is the SKC that governs the region. After military success, these areas are handed back to SKC and the SKC flag will be raised. In other words, no flag other than SKC will be raised at the border gate.

Rudaw: Kurdish parties say that the YPG is the military hand of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). What is your answer to this?

Sipan Hemo: Unfortunately, this issue is raised a lot. When we decided to form YPG, we not only visited PYD, but also other parties as well. We visited the president of the Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani too. We have knocked on the doors of many parties, people and leaders.

  If the US and the West do not take Kurds into account, radical Islamists will take over, and that will cause Syria to break up. 

We told all these people that we were planning to form a military power in Western Kurdistan. As you may remember, there were some attacks against the Kurds in Qamishlo in 2004 and in Raqqa in 2007. To prevent similar incidents, we felt it was a must to form a military force.  Yet, all parties and people we had spoken with rejected the idea of forming a military force. They said that it would be difficult to form such a force. Nevertheless, we continued our efforts to form the YPG despite their discouragement. Definitely, PYD helped us out. There are within the YPG, members of other Kurdish parties along with PYD members. Democratic Progressive Party, Kurdish Democratic Union Party, Kurdish Leftist Party, Syrian Kurdish Democrats Party as well as Assyrians and Arabs are also part of YPG units.

I want to repeat once more that we are not a military wing of any party! We are under the command of the SKC. We struggle to defend the Kurdish region. YPG will exist as long as there are security problems regarding western Kurdistan.  In fact, this is the first time I am officially stating this to the public through you. We met all parties in March 2009. They may have not mentioned this for their party interests!