2 Aug 2014 – Reports coming out of Syria indicate that Kurdish fighters have made a breakthrough against ISIS militia. Wladimir Van Wilgenburg is a columnist at AI monitor, and is based in Kurdistan. Tim Walklate asked him whether he could verify the reports. The Syrian Observatory for Human rights have said that intense fighting in Kobane – a northern Syrian town that the Kurds see as part of Kurdistan – has left 35 ISIS soldiers dead. 14 Kurdish fighters are also reported to have been killed but Kobane, the reports claim, is back under Kurdish control.
“The city of Ain al-Arab (Kobane in Kurdish), close to the Turkish border, has been besieged by ISIS militants for months and after ISIS, the jihadi group, they took Sunni provinces in Iraq – especially Mosul – they got a lot of American weapons and they transported those weapons to Syria.
“In Syria, the ISIS jihadi group were also trying to take more territory and so they attacked the Syrian government and the Kurds in Kobane and they increased their operations against the Kurds there. But now, after they received reinforcements from the Kurds in Turkey, they have been able to push the ISIS militants back in the city of Kobane, which is completely surrounded by jihadi groups.”
Is there a desire on the part of the Kurdish troops to push ISIS back into Syria?
“The main goal for the Kurds is to protect the areas which they consider as Kurdish, so they are not going to go to Aleppo or Damascus or any other area. But, for instance, in Hasika city, which also has Arabs living there, there are also ongoing reports that the Syrian army has withdrawn from some parts and handed over to the Kurds in order to protect the city, because the Kurds will probably be the only group that can push back the ISIS militants.
“They also see Hasika as a Kurdish city, so they will be operating in these kind of areas. And the only other areas they would be operating in would be areas which connect the Kurdish areas between, because one of the problems for the Kurds is – unlike in Iraq – is that the Kurdish areas are not connected to each other. So they have a very big problem.
“For instance, if Kurds in one region are attacked, for instance in Kobane we have problems with sending support from other Kurdish cities because these are not connected as there are Arabs and Turkmen living in between them.”
What’s the broader situation in Iraq at the moment?
“The latest is that the Iraqi president was elected and was a Kurd and there are talks ongoing about forming a new government in Iraq and there are also ongoing talks to form some sort of co-operation to fight against the IS militants. So the Kurds are pushing for the recognition of the disputed areas. There are some areas they want to annexe into Kurdistan officially, but Baghdad in the past have refused this.
“Also they want to have their oil exports recognised. For the rest, the fighting between the Iraqi army and the ISIS militants is still ongoing and there is still fighting between the Kurdish forces here in Iraq and ISIS.” http://voiceofrussia.com/uk/news/2014_08_01/Kurds-and-ISIS-in-running-battles-on-Turkish-border-8782/ (VoR)