Interview with Ismet Hasan, Defense Minister of Kobane Canton
Interview conducted on November 6, 2014
Source: Mutlu Civiroglu
Mr. Hasan, we are informed that the clashes continue at the eastern front, shelling and mortar attacks at the western front. Can you update us about the recent situation?
As you also now, it has been 54 days that Kobane has demonstrated a historical resistance. ISIS is bombing our citizens waiting at the border in the western front and also at the Tilsahr Hill. The clashes have not stopped since the first day at the eastern front. They try to recruit forces from surrounding cities and continue attacking us. As long as Kobane is surrounded by attacks from all three fronts, it is always going to be dangerous for Kobane. Since the winter came, people at the front lines are having many difficulties.
You stated that ISIS attacks with bombs. The coalition was assuming that it destroyed most of the heavy weaponry of ISIS, is that not true? Do they continue to attack you and civilians comfortably because they still have a big amount of weaponry?
They have mortars such as the M57s, they have a tank in industrial zone and they are using it heavily. When airstrike starts, they hide those and when it stops, they take them out again and attack.
You mentioned about cold weather, what are the needs of people between Suruc and Kobane, and at the border, what can be done for those?
These civilians are under terrible conditions. There is no house or tent that they can stay in. They sleep outside. There are many women and children. We try to at least provide them with basic needs such as food, but it has become a huge challenge for us as the weather is getting colder. This is a very serious problem that needs urgent attention. Also, there are some civilians still in the city and they cannot go out because of continuous attacks and shelling.
Firstly, we want a safe corridor for these civilians. Secondly, today a group of young men and women wanted to come to Kobane to support us from the other side of the border. However, because of the attacks by Turkish soldiers, a young woman lost her life and a few got injured. We are going through a very though time. People who had crossed the border to Turkey are being shot when they want to come back to support their city. We want them to allow our people to cross the borders.
How do you interpret the attitude of Turkey in this regard?
Turkey has a faulty attitude towards us and we want it to change. We are not fighting against Turkey; we are fighting against the terrorist group ISIS that does not only target Kurds, but the whole world. If they attack us here today, they are going to attack Turkey tomorrow. They have organized crimes in many cities and killed many civilians. For instance, in Iraq, they killed about 400 people from a tribe. Turkey needs to reanalyze its politics and alter them. We are neighbor with Turkey and as Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and as Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ); we are fighting against a terrorist group, ISIS. Even if Turkey does not provide any support, it should stop to interfere and attack our people so we can carry out a more efficient resistance.
The world media is watching you closely and writing very positively about you. There were protests in all over the world a few days ago. What do you want to say about this?
This is very important for us. We want to thank all those who support us. We will never forget the airstrike support of America and international coalition. Turkey is our neighbor and they should have reacted accordingly, but what can we say. The support from people of different countries in the same date has increased our morale. Today, when YPG and YPJ fight against terrorism, they do not do this only to support Kobane or Kurdish people, but for the people of the world.
We are talking about a terrorist organization that has carried attacks in many European countries including Spain and France, and we still remember September 11 attack. They have one hand in Baghdad and one in Lebanon, one other in Raqqa and nobody dared to resist against this group, but us. ISIS took control of Mosul, which has a population of 4 million, within a few hours, the same is true for Raqqa and Manbij, however, even though they surrounded Kobane, they were not able to win and therefore, they are fighting us wholeheartedly. For this reason, we need the support of international community and we send our greetings to those who already did so.
You said that ISIS attacks with all its strength; can you say that new forces arrive in the last days?
According to information provided to us, additional forces are joining them from Talabyad, Raqqa, Manbij and Jarablus. As we understand from the radio, a lot of their members are coming from Afghanistan.
Some media sources claimed that YPG retook some villages from them. However, YPG sources disputed this, what is the issue here?
No, there is not any village that we retook now. Yesterday, 9 ISIS members were killed in the conflict that emerged in Ebruşk village. We just got Tilsahr back, but nowhere else. However, our forces go to the villages and attack ISIS. For instance, they attacked ISIS in Karamox, which is about 20 km from here, but they withdrew. It is true that we advanced a little bit in the city, but there is not any village that we saved yet.
What is the role of peshmergas, what are you going to tell about them?
It is a very positive thing. 150 people may not be a big as a support materially, but they are a big support morally. It is an honor for us that peshmergas came from the southern Kurdistan to here for us. Kurds are being slaughtered every few years. We want Kobane to be the last one. A national army should be established and Kurds need to defend themselves.
Are peshmergas fighting only at the western front or at all fronts?
Not only at the western front, but anywhere we need them most to work with heavy weaponry. They work with 57’s, mortars, Katyushas, whichever is needed in whichever front.
I want to ask about Abdul Jabbar Akidi’s group. Are they also fighting actively and supporting YPG? It is speculated that some left the group. Is that true?
Previously, some groups named “Euphrates Volcano” from Free Syrian Army (FSA) were with us. It has been 8-10 months we have been fighting together and they lost a lot of martyrs. Lastly, a group of 50 from Akidi came to Kobane, but we did not really want them. Instead, since ISIS are in many other areas in Jarablus, Azaz and many other Syrian cities, we wanted them to collaborate with Kurds from Afrin or other areas and do something in those areas. However, they refused it saying that they do not have the power to do so, but instead wanted to come to Kobane to fight. We want an egalitarian, democratic Syria where everybody has a say and for this reason we accepted them. While they throw mortars, they are not actively fighting yet. I do not know, but 9-10 of them went back. But as I said we have our doors open to everyone, who wants to support this mission.
You see YPG and YPJ fighters and peshmergas while you go through the war fronts. How is their morale in general?
YPG, YPJ, and peshmerge forces are fighting together. This is a very crucial thing for us morally and our morale is very high because of this. We are hopeful that we will achieve significant results in a short time.
We want to thank again to the United States, Europe and the coalition for their support. As long as they support us in our struggle, our resistance will prevail. They need to know that Kurdish people are brave. We will continue resisting and they should keep in mind that their support is very crucial for us and for our resistance against ISIS.
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Translated from Kurdish into English by Demet Arpacik
Source: Mutlu Civiroglu