The YBŞ International: Interview

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  • 

The YBŞ (the Kurdish abbreviation for the ‘Sinjar Resistance Units‘) first emerged in 2014 as a defence force for the Yezidi people in the Sinjar area when they were subject to attempted genocide at the hands of the Islamic State. The YBŞ still maintains a presence in the Sinjar area. While it has recruited many Iraqi Yezidis into its ranks, the YBŞ also has a wing of foreign volunteers from various countries outside the immediate region. This wing is called the YBŞ International. To learn more about the the YBŞ International and its history, I conducted an interview with the YBŞ International’s spokesman. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own. The most notable aspect of this interview in my view is the issue of the YBŞ links with the Syrian Democratic Forces and its operations inside Syria. This is undoubtedly on account of the connection with the YPG component of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

1. When was the YBŞ International formed? Where was it formed and what were the reasons for its formation? What are its origins and from which countries have its members come?

Many foreigners joined the Kurdish militia in Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] to fight against the Islamic State since 2014. Some of those foreigner fighters went to Shingal [Sinjar] to fight in Shingal as well against ISIS. Many of them left and some of them stayed in Shingal and formed an international unit with foreigners from all around the world. Germans, Spaniards, Americans and also Australians were part of the YBŞ International unit.

2. In which battles has the YBŞ International participated and what is the number of its martyrs?

The YBŞ International have been part of the most important battles in the last 4 years in Rojava and in Shingal. One of the first operations was in Raqqa, where the YBŞ International were together with a Yezidi unit from Shingal in the first position at the frontline. The unit was leaded by Serdest Shingal, who was murdered by a Turkish Airstrike on the 15th of January 2020.

The YBŞ International was also deployed to Afrin when Turkey started the invasion in 2018. During the Turkish attacks and bombing one member of the YBŞ unit lost his life (Sheid Baran Galicia) and another member got heavily injured.

YBŞ International was also sent to fight against the last ISIS zones in east Syria (Deir az-Zor) in 2018, where Ramon Rull (Sheid Kendal Rull) lost his life.

The unit took also part of fighting ISIS cells in the mountains of Sinjar in 2019.

In the last Turkish invasion in Rojava in 2020 [sic: 2019], the YBŞ International unit was sent to Rojava to fight against the Turkish mercenaries. Konstantin G. lost his life while another YBŞ International member was heavily injured,

3. What are the current roles that YBŞ International plays considering that Shingal was liberated some time ago?

The role of the YBS International in Shingal is to protect the Sinjar Region. The unit trains every day, helps the locals (Kurds, Yezidis, Arabs) in any way and is prepared for everything that may come.

4. What do you think of the current situation in Shingal? What is your view of the agreement between Baghdad and Arbil regarding Shingal? Considering that you are a team of foreigners with the YBŞ and the Kurdistan Regional Government invokes the presence of foreigners as a reason to remove the YBŞ and Asayish Izidkhan [internal police unit linked to the YBŞ] from the area, would you not say it is better to dissolve YBŞ International?

The reason is not us foreigners, the reason is because the YBŞ is independent. Neither Iraq nor the KRG have any influence on the YBŞ. The YBS has successfully built up a self-administered Shingal over the years, which Erdogan does not like of course. He is behind it [i.e. the pressure to remove the YBŞ from Sinjar area] to provoke a war between Kurds.

The PDK [Kurdistan Democratic Party: Mas’oud Barzani’s party] Peshmerga want to come to Shingal again after they left the population alone in 2014 and are therefore responsible for the genocide we all know. The YBŞ will not let this happen. The YBŞ will not betray the Yezidis as the PDK Peshmerga did or the Iraqi Army.

The situation in Shingal now is that the YBŞ have withdrawn from the cities except for the Asayish (police forces of the YBŞ) [i.e. the Asayish Izidkhan]. But this is all happening with the agreement of the commanders of the YBŞ and the Iraqi Army.