4 April 2015 – By Mutlu Civiroglu – We have talked with YPG spokesperson Redur Xelil on several current topics including especially the situation in Serekaniye.
What is the latest situation in the region especially after the violent clashes that took place last week in Serekaniye?
Redur Xelil: ISIS’ attacks around Serekaniye and Tal Tamir have been continuing without a break since 23 of February. Intense clashes took place between our YPG forces and terrorist ISIS thugs especially in the region between Manajir and Serakaniye. Here a severe blow was dealt to ISIS, two villages and a settlement which were used as a headquarters, came under total control of our forces. A storehouse for ammunition and several bodies fell into our hands. Clashes take place now and then around villages of Tal Tamir and Manajir.
What was ISIS trying to accomplish with these latest attacks? Can we say that Serekaniye is no longer in danger?
Redur Xelil: No, we cannot say that the danger has passed. However, we have rendered their plans for the area ineffective. Villages that came under our control are important. They are located between Serekaniye and Tal Tamir and ISIS was striving to keep the road between these two cities under its control. The danger would have increased if we had not dislodged them from there. ISIS received severe blows in Tal Hamis and Tal Barak, as if trying to prove its power once again; it headed to Tal Tamir and Serkaniye. However, ISIS was routed in the face of stiff resistance of the YPG and YPJ. Undoubtedly, the international coalition also contributed to this resistance, even if in a limited way.
- Why was the support of international forces not as [substantial as] it was in Kobani? Despite your calls for urgent support, why do you think such support was delayed?
Redur Xelil: Support in Tal Tamir and Serekaniye was not as much as it was in Kobani. Of course we appealed for much more support. As a matter of fact, the international force was established to fight against ISIS, and today on the ground, the YPG is the only force that can fight against the ISIS. We believe that YPG can be the most strategic force siding with international forces and especially with America. To be successful in the fight against ISIS, we expect more frequent and increased amount of support. The cause of the delay of support is not a disagreement between the YPG and the international forces, but rather due to politics the international forces are pursuing. We hope such political disagreements are resolved as soon as possible. The fight against ISIS should never be stopped, because they [ISIS] immediately resume the threat for the region.
But you acknowledge that the support provided by international forces contributed to the success of your struggle. Is this true?
Redur Xelil: Of course. We never deny this and we have always thanked them for this support. They provided great support in Kobani, Tal Barak, Tal Hamis. But what we are saying is that in Tal Tamir and Serekaniye there was not sufficiently active support. If they had provided as much help as they did in other regions, we would have gained a bigger victory.
A few YPG commanders stated that Turkey impacted your struggle negatively, by supporting the ISIS. What would you say on this?
Redur Xelil: We don’t want to talk on documents that show one hundred percent Turkish support [for the ISIS]. Claims that Turkey allows ISIS passing through its borders have been around all the time. The four border gates from Tal Abyad to Serekaniye are wide open, ISIS passes through these gates with ease. One could argue about the veracity of such claims, nevertheless there are claims that Turkey supports ISIS. To counter such arguments, Turkey should take an active role in the fight against the them and should support the YPG, since in the coming days, not the ISIS but the Kurdish people will dominate the region.
You talked about Tal Abyad. Could it be that ISIS launched these attacks to prevent you from taking Tal Abyad and therefore adjoining the two Cantons?
Redur Xelil: ISIS is very much afraid that it will be wiped out of this region. After the defeat in Kobani, it gathered all of its forces between Tal Abyad and Serekaniye.
According to some news, ISIS is using chlorine gas in the Kurdish region (of Iraq). Similar claims were made in Kobani. What do you have to say on this?
Redur Xelil: ISIS is more dangerous now than at any other time both for Kurdistan and for the world. It is true that ISIS received great blows, precisely it is due to these blows that the danger has increased. ISIS is like a wounded snake and it will use any and all opportunities to strike. It may even use chemical weapons. We weren’t surprised that it used poison gas and prohibited weapons in the south of Kurdistan. In the west of Kurdistan also, specifically in Jazaa and Kobani they had used these prohibited weapons. International organizations have documented these cases in their reports. This is why the European states, international forces and America should wage an effective struggle and provide more support to the YPG.
News sites close to the Esad regime and the ISIS claimed that Hizbollah helped the YPG in Serekaniye. Is this true?
Redur Xelil: These are entirely black propaganda politics disseminated by the regime. By blemishing, they are striving to weaken the YPG. Such claims are baseless.
For a while, you have been experiencing some difficulties with the regime. How are your relations now?
Redur Xelil: The regime is locked in its region, and it seems that it will remain so for a while. Right now there is no extraordinary situation in our relations with the regime. That is because right now the regime is not in an attack position against us. The YPG is continuing its war against the ISIS and the regime and the city remain where they are.
In a press release, the Syrian opposition claimed that the YPG mistreated Arab villagers in Tal Hamis and Tal Barak. What would you say on this?
Redur Xelil: Needless to say such claims are baseless, we had released an official reply to counter such claims at that time. Such accusations help the presence of ISIS in the region gain legitimacy. No such event took place. Civilian population is still living in their villages. People who were forced to leave their villages when ISIS ruled the area, are now returning to the area with our help. Our doors are wide open to all international organizations and especially to the United Nations if they want to come in and investigate the situation. We will provide all the means that is needed for such work.
Some sources claim that Kurdistan Regional Government provides weapons support for the YPG, are such claims true?
Redur Xelil: We wish such claims were true, but no such help exists. In recent past they provided some symbolic help in Kobane, but apart from that no great help worth to mention, has been provided. We support the arming of the peshmergas and fully support [direct] weapons delivery by the international forces to them. However, we want similar support to be provided to the YPG. That is because in Syria, the YPG is the only force that is fighting against the ISIS.
OK, hasn’t the international forces provided any support to you? France had uttered positive messages in this regard. Yesterday Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that they would expand their operations in Syria and fight against the ISIS.
Redur Xelil: it is true that they say very many positive things and are genuine. We also see all such statements as positive developments. But we want concrete steps to be taken and unfortunately until now there has been nothing to show for.
Is there any new development relating to Christians who were abducted in Tal Tamir?
Redur Xelil: Their whereabouts are unknown, nobody knows what happened to them. In Tal Tamir, Manajir and Serekaniye Syriani and Kurdish people are face to face with a great slaughter. ISIS has specifically targeted this region. As the YPG (People’s Protection Units) we will defend Kurds and all other minorities, to the end. But international forces should provide the help we need.
Newroz (New Year) celebrations have been going on for a few days now. As a last word, what would you say on Newroz?
Redur Xelil: By targeting Kurdistan, ISIS wants to break the spirit of resistance of Kurdish people. We will fight against the ISIS to the end. With this spirit of struggle, we congratulate the Newroz of Kurdish and all other Middle Eastern peoples.