Interview with Redur Xelil, The Spokesman of People's Protection Units (YPG)
By Zanyar Omrani
23 May, 2015
In a room which did not smell of war, I talked to Redur Xelil about the four-year resistance of his forces in Syria; A small guerilla that in less than four years, managed to form a 35000-people army and has made the officials of some countries officially acclaim their efforts.
Redur told me about the current status of the YPG forces, while showing me the digital map of the region on his tablet. The yellow circles showed the latest status of YPG forces, while red circles were the symbol of ISIS and pink circles showed the Baath regime forces. And the blue ones were the Turkish. Then it was the time for talking about many topics, including the internal issues and coalition forces.
The YPG Establishment
- Mr. Redur Xelil, please tell us about the initiation and foundation of YPG.
On the first days of the revolution in Syria, everything seemed peaceful in Rojava. Most of the protests were done in the form of civil movements, but after some months, everything changed. In Rojava, which was the most secure part of the Syria, the different tribes and groups, formed several military groups. They fought with one another on some unworthy tribal, religious and ethnic issues. It was a dangerous time.
That was the time when the need for a united army in Rojava was fully felt, an army which could protect the people. The first circles were established in Dayrik city under the commandment of Xebat Dêrîk which was primarily called YXG (The People's Youth Units).
Gradually and based on a rational plan, the military branches were expanded in all the cities of Rojava.
- What was the reaction of the Syrian regime?
They were shocked by the series of events happening in the Syrian cities and they were getting weaker and weaker. Considering the public wrath caused by the many years of oppressing and rejecting the Kurdish people, they knew that they must withdraw. There were some conflicts in some points between our forces and the regime forces, but finally we gained the control of the Kurdish regions with the least cost.
Opening another front in which the deprived and suffering Kurds were present, was not in the interests of the regime.
We took the opportunity and began to organize and train the forces in different cities and villages.
The Kurdish political activists were also very active and collaborated with us to form a consolidate army in order to defend the people of the autonomous cantons (Jazira, Kobani and Afrin); an army which proved its power in Kobani and other parts.
- For many people, the differences between YPG and YPJ is not really clear, the real question is why there is two separate military groups in Rojava?
YPJ is an independent women organization which acts parallel to the YPG which has been created by our friends.
Actually, they are the essential part of YPG who fight against ISIS, hand in hand with these forces.
- Is the headquarter structure of YPG of co-leadership type?
No, we are a military force and here the issues are slightly different. The co-leadership type is for civil and political organizations, but in YPG there is a coordination room composed of several men and women.
- Is there a clear number of the YPG and YPJ?
YPG currently has more than 35000 members. I can claim that more than 35 percent of them are the members of the YPJ which increases day by day.
- What about the killed ones?
Since the beginning of the YPG, we have had 2000 martyrs, 750 of which has been martyred in the Kobani liberation war.
- Are the Asayish organization and the “Self-Defense” forces parts of the YPG?
No, they are two separate organizations that mostly act in urban issues and the internal security cases.
- What about the Self-Defense Committee in communes?
They are also related to the communes and Asayish, not to us.
The Current Status of the War Fronts and the Military arrangements of YPG Forces
- Mr. Redur Xelil, could you give us a general schema of the current situation of the YPG and YPJ in the three cantons?
In Afrin canton, currently there is no conflict and everything seems peaceful.
Kobani canton has long been the battle field with ISIS. At the moment, we have ruled them out of the controlled area (out of the area before the attack of these Islamists to the canton).
At the present time, the war is under the way in ISIS controlled area in the self-proclaimed governorate of Ar-Raqqah.
In the Kobani canton and the suburban areas of Tel Tamer and Serikani cities, there is an intense war going on against us.
- Which groups are your neighbors in each cantons?
In Afrin canton, we have Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), Ahrar ash-Sham and the Free Syrian Army, and also the Baath regime. In Kobani and Jazira , the only neighbor is ISIS.
- But I also have seen the regime forces in Qamishli and Hasakah too…
Yes, they are also present at the Kobani canton.
- How far are the YPG and YPJ in their last controlling point in Kobani from these forces in Kobani? How many kilometers?
Less than 70 kilometers.
- And you want to connect the cantons to one another, is that right?
This is a complicated and unknown issue. We are prone to such an incident but there are also some historical realities involved.
Most of the residents of these regions, are the Arabs who have been sent to these Kurdish areas in 60s to 80s, in order to change the population demography of the Kurdish areas.
- Do these people fight in the form of YPG besides you or under another terms? Because as you know there is another force called “Sutoro” composed of Syriac youth, in the Assyrian area, which acts under the of the YPG. Is there also a group for Arabs?
The things are different for Arabs. For example in Kobani, there are several Arabic militias which fight beside YPG. Also, in addition to the Free Army andJabhat al-Akrad, the Jabhat Thowar Suriyya (Syria Revolutionaries Front)and Kata'eb Shams ash-Shamal (The Northern Sun Battalion)are active in the battles that are both Arab
- You live in an area which is not homogeneous from the demographic aspect, how do the Arabs interact with you?
For us, The Kurdish Rojava is a definite geographical area that nothing can conceal the truth about it, even the fifty-year old Arabization policy of the former regime; however, these kinds of policies have had many negative influences.
Nevertheless, at the moment what we have in hand is the presence of many ethnics in the area including Kurdish, Assyrian, Syriac, Arab and Circassian. Ethnic or racial war bears no fruit for us or for the Arabs. We should regard this plurality and difference as an opportunity not as a threat. This solidarity makes it possible to go for mutual trust in the near future.
We want to approach the issue with wisdom and rationality and we try to enliven the inactive space between the Rojava ethnics, which takes time.
We do not have any problems with our Arab brothers, as some Arab youth are now fighting against ISIS besides our warriors and they are martyred in such battles.
- How do the Arabs in the area think about you?
Unfortunately, the Arabs in the area lack a solid structure so one cannot get into dialogues with them. Most of them are influenced by the commands of the tribe chiefs and act accordingly. They usually accompany the main power of the area in different times.
- Even when that power is ISIS?
Unfortunately, yes! At first, most of them were along with the Jabhat al-Nusra; and before that they were with the regime, and now they are cooperating with ISIS.
We have applied a completely different policy, which is the effort for eliminating the ethnic sensitivities. We can live with one another peacefully as brothers and have managed to gain their confidence using legal strategies.
After the arrival of YPG forces at the Tal Hamis and Tal Brak cities that were mostly Arabic Residents, the peace has returned to the city and we do not see the dangers from ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusraand the regime for Arabs anymore. Currently, the local forces have the gained the control of their city. And many people have been martyred for liberating these areas.
Many local people would tell us at the time of the former regime: “We will kick you out of the Arabic lands. We will slaughter you, you do not belong here!” They were just obeying the regime policies and there were no efforts to reviewing their opinions. However, at last, the ones who liberated the Arabs from the inhumane culture yoke of ISIS, were the very Kurds whom the Arabs wanted to slaughter. They lived several years under the strict and inhumane rules of Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. Today, many things have changed; the ethnic sensitivities have reduced in the Arab cantons and they are eagerly joining the YPG day by day. We are optimistic about living in a brotherly atmosphere equal to Arab, Assyrian and Chechenian brothers.
- Is their cooperation and participation limited to military forces only?
No, they are more active in political level; from the local offices to the common leadership of cantons and other legal domains.
Now that ISIS is getting weaker and weaker and the regime has shown its true nature potential, it is to the interest of Arabs to live in a friendly atmosphere with the other ethnics of the region including Kurds, Assyrian, Armenians and Chechenians.
- What about the Assyrians? I talked to some of them and they told me of “the fancy days they had under the privilege of the regime.”
It is completely true. The regime cared for them in a special manner. On those days that we did not have ID cards, the Assyrians had private schools and they held key positions in the cities. But we should not forget that the regime stopped its support. Now it is the YPG that is protecting the Assyrians from the fundamentalist ISIS attacks in Tal Tamir and other areas.
They are fully aware that if there was no YPG, they could not resist against ISIS even for a single day.
- If one day, for any reason, they do not want the YPG forces be present in Assyrian or Arabic areas, what will be your possible reaction?
There is an important issue here that is in those areas, addition to Assyrians and Arabs we have also Kurdish people unlike Hasakah City which is composed of just Assyrians and Arabs. In our opinion, there is a truth called Kurdistan Rojava and we protect the Kurdish and non-Kurdish people based on this truth.
- Where are the territories of this region? Do you have any maps that define you will continue fighting against ISIS until the liberation of some so-called area, and at that particular point the Kurdistan Rojava ends?
There is not any clear and definite geographical map. Drawing and preparing such map is the task of the canton political forces.
- How far you will proceed as the YPG?
We as YPG have definite strategy; we will continue up to that point that ISIS danger has been overcome.
- What is the distance between your forces with Tell Abyad city in the east of Kobani canton?
We are now 20 kilometers from the city.
- Why is this city important?
This strategic city is important from different aspects both for us and for ISIS.
That is why ISIS is present at the city with full equipment and forces.
Firstly, Tel Abyad (Kurdish: Girê Sipî) is the city next to Turkey, and the second reason is that it is the main passageway and essential aid route for providing the logistics of ISIS and the fresh forces.
If ISIS loses the control of the city, in addition to losing the main passageway for transferring the forces and logistics, it will also be surrounded by our forces.
I should also note that in Tel Abyad city and in the distance between Kobani and Jazira, there are also some Kurds. For examples, there were many Kurds in Tel Abyad who had to leave their houses and fields after the arrival of Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS.
Currently, there are no Kurds remaining in the city, and their houses and fields have been confiscated by Jabhat al-Nusra and then ISIS.
Those groups have continued the very policy of Arabization even with more speed.
Criticisms to YPG
- Mr. Redur Xelil there are some criticisms expressed about YPG. For example, it is said that YPG recruits kids under 18. Also this Compulsory Military Service Act which has been recently approved has brought about some censures.
You are right, unfortunately in the hasty atmosphere after the beginning of the Syrian revolution, some of such mistakes happened among our forces. This critique is correct. But with the legal frameworks approved later, now there is the least possibility of violating our commitments to the Geneva Convention. We are bound to those conventions and they have sent their inspection teams to Rojava many times. If there is any problem, we will take it into consideration. According to our laws, accepting forces under 18 is forbidden but considering our crucial situation and the dangers threatening us, the ones between 16 and 18 are accepted for military training only, and they will be sent to war front after reaching the age of 18.
We have prepared the general law of force admittance in which the membership conditions, training methods, course and all the other necessary items are explained.
We should not forget that it is just 4 years since we have begun to organize our forces. Forming and organizing the defense forces was a necessity and a reaction to the dangerous situation of the region.
We should protect ourselves, as we are the target of ruthless attacks. They are killing our children.
- Kurdish opposition parties in Rojava say that they have also some forces called Peshmerga, about 5000 people, but you do not let them participate in the war.
This is not true; this is just a tricky political game which has been started in Iraqi Kurdistan. We have held many conferences with the Kurdish opposition forces.
We have accepted many of their requests related to YPG since the first days, from the flag colors to other things.
We are just as frank to say this aloud that we will not let any other military force, be active in Rojava, since we have the experiences of Palestine and Civil War in Kurdistan before our eyes.
The military policies are our red lines. If they are really eager to protect their homeland, they can come and join us in the war under the YPG.
They say that we should change the name of YPG, but we do not know why we should change its name!?
Also, there is no such force called Rojava Peshmerga whatsoever; it is just possible that the Rojava youth living in Iraqi Kurdistan, act according to Peshmerga ministry laws. Just like an employee that earns a monthly living. Just like that.
This issue is mostly a leverage that the Iraqi Kurdistan parties have held against us just to increase the political pressures.
Iraqi Kurdistan Government
- During the sudden attack of ISIS to Shingal (Sinjar), your forces arrived quickly at the Shingal Mountains and by opening the rescue corridors, managed to prevent the expansion of the disaster, and the Peshmerga forces arrived at the city, in the midst of severe conflicts in Kobani. Currently, how do you evaluate your military relations level with Kurdistan Peshmerga Ministry, taking this into consideration that the level of problems between the Syrian Unity Democratic Party and the Kurdistan Democratic Party is higher than normal, and they as your brother Kurds, do not recognize the Rojava autonomous system?
In any case, these issues are parts of our internal problems and we are optimistic to see these problems resolved. In case of the presence of YPG in Shingal, we had declared from the beginning that the reason of our participation in the conflicts was just this feeling that we had a national and humanitarian task on our shoulders; we saw ourselves responsible for saving the Shingal people and protecting the people was the only purpose we sought in Shingal.
- You mean you would quit Shingal?
We have been participated along with the PKK and Peshmerga forces so far, right now that we are talking together, there is a complicated war going on between the Kurds and ISIS.
- For how long you will stay there?
We will stay in Shingal until the danger of ISIS is eradicated. Then, there is nothing left for us to stay.
- What about the Peshmerga forces in Kobani?
The participation of Peshmerga forces in Kobani, aside from the all military topics such as their numbers or the weapons they brought to the city, bears a precious historical result:
This issue led to the commendable unity of the Kurds and it proved that a common front of Kurds is fighting against ISIS.
The spiritual value of such historical act is abundant. Then, it doesn't matter they were 50 Peshmergas or 1000 ones
- There are some controversies in the attitudes and party values between you and the Peshmerga. Do not these contradictions cast shadows on the future of your strategic cooperation with the Peshmerga?
Unfortunately, they are sometimes influential, but generally we need to be together more. Today, it is just our brother Kurds in Kurdistan and our forces in Rojava that are fighting against ISIS from Khanaqin to Afrin.
The ISIS attacks involves all the Kurds in the area, we expect to form a Kurdish common army or at least a common front against ISIS.
The Baath Regime and the Syrian Opposition
- The regime forces are still present at Hasakah and Qamishli cities, how do you interact with them in general?
Yes, they are in the center of Hasakah and Qamishli markets, in limited numbers. They are really passive and do not participate in the war against us. The real army which is fighting with us is ISIS.
The regime is just in Jazira canton. In Afrin and Kobani cantons, there is not any trace of them. Nowadays, there is a global collaboration against ISIS, and our priority is to fight against ISIS.
The priority of the global powers has changed. Their problem is now ISIS, not the regime.
- Has it changed for you, as well?
There is no doubt that ISIS is now more dangerous than any other forces, even more than the regime.
The regime is absolutely ineffective and powerless in Kobani, and it tries to ignite disputes and fights between the canton ethnics, but fortunately the Kurds, Assyrians and Arabs are fully aware of their tricks.
All the ethnics have approved the peaceful situation of canton, which shows the unique power of the YPG, and it is not easy for Assad regime to provoke ethnic sensitiveness anymore.
We have declared from the first days that our problem with the regime is a political issue and it must be resolved through diplomacy.
- You mean you see the potential and the capacity of selecting a political solution in the regime? Especially while remembering the previous acts and behaviors of the regime against the Kurds.
Unfortunately the regime is very biased and regards the issues with a chauvinistic attitude which barely leaves any open route toward finding a political solution. Of course, the Syrian opposition has similar fascistic ideas toward Kurds. None of them speaks of the Kurdish issue so that the grounds for vast political and military collaborations be open. However, we are interacting with the Syrian Oppositions in order to find a way out of the current crisis.
- What about the regime?
They also issue statements sometimes.
- Some while ago, Bashar Assad in an interview, accused Erdogan of supporting ISIS in Kobani and said that the Kurds were the ones who liberated the city. Are some cases like this, signs of relationship between you and them or the signs of their intention to get closer to you?
There have been some attempts, but the regime itself lacks integrity in its decisions. The regional interferences impedes from the formation of a political space in which the Syrian internal problems can be discussed and resolved.
Iran plays an important role in defining the regime policies. There is also Hezbollah. Unfortunately, the regime does not govern Syria alone.
The Islamic Republic, Kurds and the non-Kurds in Iran
- You spoke of Hezbollah and Iran. Let's consider this issue in Kobani canton borders. Are there any Iranian forces in the areas controlled by the regime in Hasakah and Qamishli? Do you have any evidence of their presence?
No, there is not any considerable issue, the regime itself is really got into an impasse in these two cities and has no other choice but to act under severe security conditions.
We don't know if there are any Iranian or Hezbollah forces among the regime in these two cities. However, we have received many reports of their presence at the area.
The Iranian government often interferes in the area through the Syrian forces. Also, the Guardians of the Revolution (Haras Al-Thowrah) forces who are close to Iran, are present in the region. However, there is no confirmed and reliable information about their number, effectiveness and also the content of their plans.
- Have you captured anyone from the Iranian or Hezbollah forces?
No, we have not had such cases.
- What is the general attitude of the Iranian government about the YPG? Do you have any communications in military aids level or political relations?
No, unfortunately there have not been such things.
In political levels, just once Mr. Salih Muslim was invited to Tehran.
- What about military relations with YPG?
We had no relationships.
- Some Persian media sources in the midst of Kobani Liberation claimed that the Kurdish forces had received Iranian weapons.
It was just rumor, and I have not heard such thing.
Look, it is an undeniable fact that Iran is a powerful country in the region. Our problem currently in Syria and Rojava, is the Baath regime not the political system in Iran.
We are eager to have the same relations that the Iranian government has with the Iraqi Kurdistan; that is, a formal and clear relationship.
Our doors are open to the powers in the region. Iran is one of the countries. We do not see improper or obscene to have some communications and relationships in different levels, provided that they recognize the democratic autonomy of our cantons.
In other words, they should believe that there is a Kurdish issue and they should accept the various political and legal aspects of such issue.
Nevertheless, the present reality is that Iran regards the Kurdish issue as a secondary and a trivial matter and we certainly do not acknowledge such attitude.
- What about the Iranian Kurdish parties or the people of the Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat) or the other non-Kurd Iranians?
The Iranian people, especially the Rojhelat Kurds have supported the Rojava both spiritually and both in case of soldiering. Their number has been really considerable.
- Do you have any number of the Iranian members?
Not regretfully, but I can tell from my own witnesses that I have seen more than hundreds from the Rojhelat Kurds. The Iranian Kurds have been very active in Kobani. We had many martyrs there that belongs to Rojhelat. Also, the number of the non-Kurd guerillas is high. Martyr “Rozhvan” who was a Persian Iranian, was one of them.
ISIS is a terrorist and anti-human organization, so the doors of Rojava are open to any people who want to fight against this terrorist group, and it does not matter if they are Kurd or not.
The role of the Turkish Government
- You have claimed that ISIS forces use the Turkish land for logistical and soldier feeding, and you have repeatedly accused Turkey of opening its doors to ISIS and you say that Turkey uses every opportunity for striking the YPG. Could you please elaborate on this?
We do not have any doubt on this issue that ISIS particularly counts on its borders with Turkey.
- Do you have any proof?
There is no such explainable document or proof in hand, as this is done with intense security care and in their borders. But the frequent traffic of ISIS members to and from Turkey, especially those that come from Europe to join this group, has made us more certain.
They come to Syria from Turkey, everybody knows this. The passports that we have taken from them, confirms our claims.
- Have you talked to Turkish officials? Have you communicated your concerns?
They always formally deny all the issues, but actually their support of ISIS forces continues in the battle fields.
We have many reports and information that they deliver light and heavy weapons to ISIS every day.
We have a common border from Dayrik to Afrin, which is more than 850 kilometers. Since the beginning of the revolution in Syria, we have not made any of these borders insecure, but they disturbed the security of the borders many times. We have proved in the last four years that we do not intend to make the borders unsafe.
Our concern is to resolve the Kurds' problem in the limits of the Syrian borders, but they have killed many Kurdish citizens. The government of Mr. Erdogan has formally declared that they would not allow the event in the north of Iraq, happen again in northern Syria. They have Kurdish phobia.
They fear that the revolution in Rojava have some influences on the expectation level of the Kurdish people in Turkish Kurdistan (Bakurê Kurdistanê).
- It seems that in that case, their concern is logical, is not that right?
It must be influential, as anything happening in any part of Kurdistan, affects the other part. That is a fact.
The Kurdish issue in the Middle East is the issue of all Kurds and other nations in the region. And everybody must know that this issue should be solved politically.
- One of the accusations that the Turkish State expresses about you, is that YPG is a branch of the PKK (The Kurdish Workers Party), and you are following the policies of the PKK in Syria. How do you evaluate such claim as YPG?
The Turkish State just wants to evade the issue. They have not been able to solve the Kurds' problem and have not shown any clear intention for facing this reality, so they just make excuse.
We have repeatedly said that there are not any organizational and training relations between us and the PKK.
The PKK and Turkish State should resolve their problems in a reconciliatory process from diplomatic methods.
We have some demands in the limits of the Syrian lands and we will fight for realization of such demands to the last breath. We have no fear to say that aloud.
We are eager to have friendly relations with the Turkish State; they are our neighbors. The future of the Middle East belongs to the nations of this area, not to ISIS. It's better for Turkey to make rational decisions and have friendly relations with the nations of the region.
- In 2007, Turkey wanted to attack the Iraqi Kurdistan, and even went on to the lands of the Kurdistan up to 50 meters. If in any case, Turkey intends to intrude the Rojava lands in Syria, what will be your reaction?
- We, as the symbol of the will of the people, will not allow the Turkish forces to invade the Rojava even up to one meter in any case.
- Mr. Redur Xelil, in your opinion, for how long does this war continue?
There are many factors involved here. It mostly depends on the trans-regional decisions, especially on the decision of the coalition forces. That is, it depends on the extent to which the coalition forces are eager to help us in the war against ISIS. Currently, we are somehow coordinated with the coalition forces, but it is not satisfactory.
The Middle East is fused with the presence of difference global powers. The Middle East have always been a vast ground for the opportunities of these forces, from U.S.A to Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. They have all profits in the Middle East and if they manage to resolve their problems, the crises in Syria and Iraq will end.
If the profits that have kept this terrorist group alive are not revisited, certainly the issues will continue.
- I understand from your words that you regard those very powers as the causes of the problems in Iraq and Syria, from the formation of ISIS and also the continuation of the current crisis.
Indeed, one cannot excuse them. You know that in less than one year, before their own eyes, ISIS began its conquest, equipped its forces, and founded the Islamic State
- Since when are you talking to coalition forces?
Since the arrival of ISIS at Kobani, these interactions began.
- Are their air raids really effective?
Definitely! We cannot ignore their influence. But by and large, the coalition forces and all the other forces are aware of this fact that the main role is played by YPG in the battle fields.
If there is no field force which can control the geographical area, then we cannot eliminate ISIS with the air raiders.
Unfortunately, the internal problems of the coalition forces, has reduced their contribution in Serikani and other places. At the moment, they have focused on Iraq.
This point is one of our concerns, and we hope that they add to their numbers in Tal Tamar and Serikani. They have formed this coalition to eliminate ISIS, while the only force who have managed to control their severe attacks in Syria was YPG.
- In your opinion, are the coalition forces more inclined to keep the force balance in Syrian and Iraq or to eliminate ISIS?
I cannot really say, but the evidences show that there is not the enough motivation for fighting ISIS among the coalition forces.
- What about Turkey? Is it a part of the coalition?
No, Turkey has not joined yet. They have talked about the necessity of forming a coalition but nothing has been done indeed. They say we are against ISIS but they have neither accepted the coalition nor joined it.
- After the liberation of Kobani and considering the global dimension of the resistance in the city, have there not been any weaponry supports to YPG?
So far, even one bullet has not been given to us in the war against ISIS.Their support has been just in words not in sending military aids. They have talked about the YPG and our resistance several times, but we have seen nothing in practice.
ISIS is dangerous for all of us, from the U.S.A to this Middle East. At the moment, the only forces that are combating against ISIS on the real hard ground and have managed to control them are the Kurd forces. Therefore, if there is any intention to eliminate this terrorist group among the regional and global powers, supporting the YPG would be beneficiary for all.
- You say that you are completely in blockade from every corner, so how do you get all these light and heavy weapons of yours?
There is a bitter truth in the Middle East, which is the existence of the black market of selling weapon. Therefore, no military force will have problems in finding the needed weapons; you just need to pay the price. The weapon trade isall going on in the region. I think that some countries make profits out of this market.
- If outside the Rojava borders, you mark an intention in the coalition and Syrian opposition forces to eliminate ISIS, Would you cooperate with them? For example, in Ar-Raqqah, Aleppo or other places.
Yes, for sure. As we believe that the security establishment in Syria and in the Middle East is to our profit and we have been and will be the main force in fighting ISIS.
- Have you felt this intention in them?
The Foreign Volunteer Soldiers of the YPG
- As more than 25 thousand people from different countries have joined ISIS forces, I have also seen some foreign soldiers, fighting along the YPG in several fronts of the Jazira Canton. How do you communicate and coordinate with them? How many of them are there in the fronts?
One cannot compare the foreign soldiers who have joined ISIS and also the foreigners who are fighting for the YPG , both intellectually and in case of numbers.
About 300 foreign forces have joined us, but ISIS main forces are foreigners. At first, we had some problems in organizing them. The vast language diversities, tactical differences, and their unfamiliarity with our movement and the real conditions of the battle field, were the barrels of the easy communications with them.Most of them are the veterans from different countries who have been trained in the integrated armies of the world but we have also our own imitations. In general, they are capable fighters.
We as the YPG have no problems in case of the number of the people, but our problem is the lack of heavy, advanced and super advanced weapons
- What weapons do you need most?
Heavy weapons like autocannon, DShK, fuse, etc. our military needs are a lot.
- When the regime abandoned the Rojava, did not you get their former stations military facilities?
No, very little and trivial if any
- What about the things you gained from the fights with ISIS?
Those things were also few and generally most of the equipment and facilities we get from them, are old and dysfunctional , for example we have gained some tanks that have no use.
We cannot rely on the things we get from the enemies as those things do not fulfill our needs in the war against those evil forces.
- Before the interview, you told me about the ISIS captives. Are there any commanders among them?
When they are caught, they do not say that they are commanders or not. We have established special investigation committees to probe into these issues. The obvious fact is that most of them are Syrians. Some of them repent of their actions, and some other still regard us as infidels.
Zanyar Omrani is a filmmaker and Kurdish human rights activist.
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