Mr. Redur Xelil, Tal Hamis has drawn all attention on itself now. What is the current situation, has Tal Hamis come under full control of the YPG forces?
As YPG and YPJ forces, we made significant advances within a short time of five-six days as a result of the operations we launched on 21 February. At around 11 this morning [February 27], our forces managed to enter Tal Hamis which was taken under full control by our forces several hours ago.
Over a hundred villages and hamlets in three sides of Tal Hamis have also come under our control. Besides, an operation to clear the city of mines and other traps laid by ISIS has just been started.
For our readers not very acquainted with the geography of the region, could you explain the strategic importance of Tal Hamis?
The town of Tal Hamis to the south of Qamishlo was one of the main headquarters of ISIS and constituted a great danger for Shengal [Sinjar]. ISIS were continuously providing back front support from Tal Hamis which was therefore a constant problem for the south of Kurdistan and at the same time for Qamishlo and other Kurdish-inhabited towns. This is why ISIS needed to be driven out of here, which YPG have accomplished with a significant victory today.
The operation you carried out last year didn’t succeed and Arabs in the region opposed you. What attitude was displayed by the local Arab population this time?
All the minorities in the Jazira Canton participated in this operation. I may not mention all of them one by one but a number of tribes such as Shamar, Jawala, Sharabi, Benitaba and Rashid all took part in the operation. In addition to units affiliated to the Syriac Military Council and the tribe of Shamar. It was a successful operation. That is to say, the attitude of the local Arabs wasn’t like last year’s. This is because everyone knows by now that ISIS is a dark force. The methods of torture ISIS perpetrated on people also caused great reaction from the local people.
Are ISIS planning further attacks in the coming days against places of strategic importance such as Al-Houl?
Our fight against ISIS will continue as long as the threat on the Canton of Jazira remains, we know no bounds in this regard.
It is being reported that the same kind of the solidarity between the U.S.-led coalition and YPG forces is taking place in Jazira at the moment. What would you as the YPG Spokesman say about the role of the coalition strikes?
Coalition forces too have actively participated in this operation and provided a major support to us, thus enabling the operation to accomplish.
You’ve said you had acted together with Syriac forces. Many Christian civilians have been kidnapped. What is the current situation in Tal Tamir?
ISIS attempted attacks in Tal Tamir especially after their defeat in Kobanê and our advance in Tal Hamis. Three Syriac villages were unfortunately taken by ISIS in these attacks. According to the information we have, more than a hundred civilians including children, women and elders have been kidnapped by ISIS. No information is yet available regarding their fate but they are guessed to have been taken to the Abdulaziz Mountain which is also held by the ISIS. Very fierce clashes are currently taking place between YPG and ISIS in order for the retaking of these Assyrian villages.
Bashar Assad was being asserted to be protecting the Christian community in Syria and the villages you’ve mentioned are said to be close to the Syrian regime which however remained silent at the siege and abduction of Christians. How do you assess this attitude of the regime?
Allegations on the Assad regime being the protector of minorities should be approached with suspicion. The regime made no intervention, despite having opportunities, while ISIS attacked these villages. The fact that YPG’s manner of protecting minorities is not just a politics or propaganda is known very well by everyone now. YPG is struggling to protect all minorities in practice too. I suppose minorities also know this very well now. Everyone aware of this truth backs YPG which is thus growing more and more every day. In all the areas controlled by YPG, everyone can continue their life in peace and tranquility.
What about Tal Abyad. The cantons of Jazira and Kobanê have parted from each other now. Are attacks being planned on Tal Abyad in the coming days to ensure the merging of the two cantons?
As I’ve just said, our fight will continue as long as the ISIS threat remains. We know no bounds in this struggle which, in other words, will not be concluded with the liberation of Kobanê and Tal Hamis alone.
What would you as the YPG Spokesman like to say regarding your Australian fighter Johnson who lost his life few days ago?
Ashley Johnson’s joining the YPG ranks, which happened despite the Australian and Kurdistan territories being kilometers away from each other, honored us. Inspired by the resistance we mounted, Ashley joined the anti-terror fight we are waging for humanity, and played an active role in it. He was fighting on the front lines. He was martyred in the village of Xesan in Tal Hamis.
Ashley is a martyr of the Kurdish people and humanity. We offer our condolences to both his family and the Australian people. We believe the solidarity between peoples and the spirit of struggle will grow stronger with his memory.
Translated into English by Berna Özgencil https://twitter.com/bzgncl