Kurdish and Arab commanders explain the significance of the liberation of the village of Tal Hamis in the broader struggle against ISIS in northeastern Syria. Suleiman al-Shemri, military leader of the Al-Sanadeed forces - themselves the descendants of the Al-Shummar tribe from which various ISIS fighters have been recruited - describes how the three-day battle to liberate the village was in response to pleas from the village's diverse population hailing from various tribal backgrounds. The film also depicts widespread scenes of destruction in a village that, while verdant, has been given over to abandon.
Shots of the destruction caused by the 3-day battle
Shots of some ISIS symbols and pronouncements
Shots of the city streets and road signs
Shots of the Kurdish forces in the city with the vehicles and flags of the Kurdish forces on a strategic hill in the city
(02:22-04:26) Akid Derek, field commander in the YPG:
Telhamis was a center for the Syrian regime but they relinquished it about two years ago and it fell under the control of those terrorists. Our raid started from more than one angle. We began in the town of Jazaa, which is located on the border of Kurdish Iraq, and from the village of Palestine, until we reached here. People's Protection Units and Women's Protection Units along with several supporting Arab forces were able to liberate areas in order to reach Tel Hamis. Coalition air forces were available but not with the required intensity. The liberated area is very big and even reaches the town of Telbrak.
Civilians gradually began returning to their homes and are now free after having suffered under the control of ISIS. We talked to the inhabitants of the liberated villages who confirmed that members of ISIS had seized their property and belongings and evicted them from their homes and villages. At this moment we are going to continue with our raid until we clean the area of members of ISIS, who are now about 30km from Tel Hamis in the area of al-Hol.
ISIS placed mines in parts in the village and in cars too. Some of them are still underground and our specialists are working on deactivating them. We have imprisoned many members of ISIS in this raid, and our forces killed dozens of them. We have 30 ISIS corpses.
Suleiman al-Shemri, military leader of the Al-Sanadeed forces
Interviewer: tell us about the raid, who participated in it? And how long did it take to liberate Tel Hamis?
Suleiman: The raid began on 21 February 2015 and lasted three days. With the help of God we were able to accomplish our goal. We started this raid as an answer to the request of the population to fight those people who are not related to Islam, based on the request of the inhabitants of Tel Hamis, the people who are the tribes of Sharabeya, Shummar, and Tay. It was based upon their request that we came to Tel Hamis, a center for ISIS.
Interviewer: Why is Tel Hamis significant?
Suleiman: It is an area that connects Iraq and Syria, a strategic location for ISIS.
Interviewer: you, the Al-Sanadeed forces, participated with the YPG in the raid. Who else participated?
Suleiman: The participants in the raid were the YPG (People's Protection Units), the Women's Protection Units and the Al-Sanadeed forces. The Al-Sanadeed made up about 1200-1300 fighters in this raid, but the inhabitants also helped us, while the coalition air forces played a significant role. Almost 200 members of ISIS were killed, and we imprisoned others, but do not know the number of captives. The Peshmerga also helped us from the border.
Interviewer: How many villages were liberated? How big is the liberated area?
Suleiman: We liberated almost 150 villages in the first few days and up until now have done so in about 200 villages.
Interviewer: How far is ISIS now?
Suleiman: They are in al-Hol now. Yesterday the fighters liberated Telbrak, and now we are heading to al-Hol, and then hopefully on to Iraq. People are asking for our help and we are always ready to help people – to fight the enemies of Islam.