News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
The following is a new interview conducted by journalist Mutlu Çiviroğlu with Şoreş Hesen, YPG Spokesperson in Kobanê, and has been translated into English below. One can visit Çiviroğlu’s personal webpage here.
-The fighting in Kobanê began more than four months ago. Winter conditions have made the conditions of battle even more difficult. What has happened in the fighting over the past three or four days?
Over the past four months we have witnessed an unprecedented resistance against the the dark forces of terror in the Middle East. Over the past couple of days we have used the strength that this resistance has brought us in order to repel ISIS attacks in the Mekteba Reş (Black School) and Miştenur neighborhoods. We have retaken a number of streets and avenues back from under ISIS control within the framework of our offensive to liberate Kobanê which we started around a month ago. Of course ISIS could not tolerate the loss of these places. They launched a series of heavy attacks to take back the areas which they had lost. However with the struggle that we as the YPG have waged we have proved that ISIS will not be able to capture the places which we have taken back. They have destroyed dozens of hours in the surrounding area with car bomb attacks, and have sent dozens of their own men on suicide missions but they have been unable to advance. ISIS is thus being pushed out of Kobanê and day by the day the city is marching toward victory.
-Do you now control the areas you have spoken about, namely the Mekteba Reş and Miştenur neighborhoods and the region around the water reservoir?
Yes. These areas are now under our control and are being defended against ISIS counterattacks. We are not only in a defensive position, but our work to liberate the city continues at the same time. Despite all of these heavy attacks we are pushing them back and moving forward. These are the standards we have put together, and in accordance with our most recent decision we are operating on a principle which rejects pulling back.
-World opinion now believes that Kobanê will not and that the YPG will not be defeated. However the process of liberating Kobanê has been very difficult. What is the main reason for this?
We have also talked about this a number of times before. Urban combat is a very difficult kind of fighting and there are no rules to this kind of battle. All of the houses and streets in areas under ISIS control are connected to one another and form a kind of totality. For this reason it is not possible to push ISIS out of all the houses on these streets in a short time. ISIS is an organization that has not concept of humanity and obeys no particular rules or principles and of course we are advancing slowly against them, because we are strengthening the areas which we take back from them. We are advancing so that after we take a place we preclude the possibility of ISIS re infiltration.
-There are reports that ISIS has brought reinforcements from Sirrin, Til Ebyad and other surrounding cities over the past couple of days. Are the reports correct?
They are absolutely correct. ISIS brings up reinforcements every day and owing to the winter conditions, exhaustion and other reasons they are rotating out different groups every 5-6 days. None of their fighters has the will to stay and fight in Kobanê for more than a month. Therefore they are continuously changing groups of fighters. Those who get tired go back to the surrounding villages and cities and new ones come to take their place. We see how whenever we destroy a unit another comes to take its place. Up until now more than 10 Chechen units have been destroyed. 6-7 Turkish have been destroyed, and in addition many other groups from countries such as Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan and others have also been destroyed. The ISIS gangs which are fighting in Kobanê have come from 27 different countries. We are saying this because we have the evidence and documents to do so. Also many of the ISIS members which have come to fight against the Kurds in Rojava have come through Turkey. Whether or not the [Turkish] state is aware of this we are saying this as a criticism. Turkey must stop and think about this matter seriously. Up until now hundreds of people from Turkey have been killed here, and if you want to proof then we are happy to share these documents with the press in a suitable manner.
-You are making an interesting claim, and it would be could for you to share these documents with the public. Because everyone seems to be talking about a small number of people and you are talking about hundreds.
Yes, we could share these documents with you and it would not be difficult. Turkey should look into its control of the border. If Turkey is not cooperating with ISIS they must prove to the world that they have no connections with the people that cross through their own territory. Moreover they should stop ISIS from organizing everywhere from Ankara to the Kurdish cities [of North Kurdistan]. The large number of Turkish ISIS members who have been killed in Kobanê has raised our suspicions. Everyone knows that all of these gang members – those from Chechnya, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, the Arab countries, but also the United States, France and Germany – are crossing from Turkey to Rojava.
-I want to ask about the support for ISIS coming from Til Ebyad, Sirrin and some of the other from surrounding cities. Many people are asking why the coalition does not target the roads on which they are bringing up their support. If they continue to be able to bring up support in this manner the battle will go on much longer. What can you tell us as the YPG spokesperson on this subject?
Up until now 95% of the airstrikes in Kobanê have been successful. They have gotten the expected results, and under the rubble of the collapsed houses we have recovered many ISIS corpses. I cannot say with any certainty why the coalition is not targeting areas outside of Kobanê. We have no authority over them. However as a suggestion we can propose that they use more warplanes. This is to say that if there is a plane patrolling over Kobanê another plane should be patrolling outside of Kobanê. We think such a possibility exists, and that in the place of one plane the coalition could send seven. We know that the coalition is operating heavily around Şengal (Sinjar), Til hemîs, Rakka and even Baghdad but we believe that the coalition can send another plane. We are of the opinion that even if it is just one more plane that the logistics and weapons support could be cut. A short time ago the coalition targeted ISIS 7km to the east in the village of Şêran and destroyed a 10 person squad. This is something new, that is an airstrike outside of Kobanê. Right now there is a plane above Kobanê ready to carry out airstrikes and searching for targets. Of course if there had been two planes then one could be over Kobanê and the other patrolling outside and we would get better results.
-A couple of days ago there was an attack against a satirical magazine in France and 12 people were killed, and then there was another attack. The whole of Europe has risen up against al-Qaida and ISIS and other such radical groups. As the YPG how do you assess these attacks?
ISIS is an inhumane organization. We consider it important that different people and democratic countries are coming together and working together against such groups. It might even have been a little overdue. We have been fighting against ISIS for a year and a half in Syria. Everyone saw this but remained silent about it. We criticized this silence. We look at the many different world leaders who took part in the march in France as a response to our criticism. We now know that the whole world will support us in the battle we are waging against the enemies of humanity. We are always repeating it, as much as we are protecting our national values we are also protecting humanity from an organization that has the whole world in its sites. For this more support needs to be given to the YPG, which has fought ISIS on the frontlines and paid the heaviest price, from all countries whether France, or other countries in the coalition, or even countries not in the coalition. With this support we can be rid of this organization, which is the enemy of humanity, even more quickly.
-In some news reports recently it has been reported that France is providing the YPG with weapons. Are these claims true?
No, such aid has not yet been discussed. Other than the weapons brought to us from the KRG by American planes and those brought by the peshmergas themselves no other weapons have reached us. I want to underline this. However of course we need weapons and ammunition to win this battle. We are waiting for aid from France and other countries.