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French Fighter Joins Kurdish Militia ...
Outskirts of Ras al-Ayn (Serekaniye)
By Bedir
21 May 2015

Ras al-Ayn (Serekaniye), Syria

A French fighter, who introduced himself as 'Roj William,' explains in an interview why he joined the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia's fight against ISIS. The interview was conducted in French.

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American and German Vow to Remain in ...
Serekaniye
By Bedir
10 Mar 2015

Serekaniye, Syria
March 10, 2015

An American and a German fighter have joined the ranks of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (known by the Kurdish acronym YPG) to fight against ISIS. They are positioned outside the majority-Kurdish city of Serekaniye in northeast Syria, known in Arabic as Ras al-Ain, waiting for the next battle to erupt.

The American fighter, who was interviewed and introduced himself as Richard Jones, plans to return to the United States once ISIS is defeated. On the other hand, the German fighter, who goes by the name of Hans Schneider, says he is willing to stay in Rojava – the Syrian part of self-proclaimed Kurdish homeland – after ISIS is pushed out in order to help the Kurds build the country they have long fought to establish.

SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT

Traveling of German fighter identified as Zagros walking with Kurdish fighter
Various of female Kurdish fighters
Various of US fighter Richard Jones and two German fighters identified as Hans Shneider and Zagros
Various of a group of Kurdish fighters
Various of German fighter Hans Shneider walking
Various of US fighter Richard Jones and two German fighters identified as Hans Shneider and Kurdish female fighters

SOUNDBITE (English, Man) Richard Jones, American YPG Fighter
02:49 – 05:48
“Right now we are heading back to the town that we came from. So hopefully everything will go smoothly and it will be safe to ride back. “Right now we’re at one of the bases at the front. We’re at a vantage point on a hill where we can see the villages that Daesh controls. The villages here and here are known areas where Daesh resides. They control these areas. The ground in between, here and there, is contested. Anyone who tries to go into these areas or engage in fighting… hopefully then we can push forward and capture these towns and push ISIS back, eventually pushing all the way to reach Kobani. “I think it is likely. Obviously Daesh wants to do something to show that they are still powerful after losing such a big town as Kobani where all the world was watching. So I do expect Daesh to choose another major area to push in and to attack, to try to show that they still exist and they can still defeat the Kurds. However, I do not fear that Daesh will have a great success here. And I know that the YPG and the YPJ can defend their land. “Interviewer: So, you are ready to defend this area if they start a new attack on Jazeera [area in northeast Syria]?” “Absolutely. If they want to come, I’m ready to fight. “I do. I hope that the international community will see that the Kurds are not just fighting for the place where they live, they are fighting a terrorist organization that goes against the entire world. The fact that they’re here in Rojava does not mean that tomorrow they will not be in another country. We see the attacks in France; we see the attacks all around the world. And we know that ISIS hates these people. They hate everyone that’s not themselves. I do think that the world is obligated to come to assist. Not just for the Kurds to have Rojava, but also so that this terror organization could be defeated. “My name is Richard Jones. I’m from America. I’m here in Rojava to help the Kurdish people fight against ISIS – against Daesh. I’ve been to the front several times and I hope to be able to continue going to the front and fight against Daesh. So far there’s not been much fighting at the front areas. Both sides have been waiting for the other side to make a move. But I do know that soon the fighting will increase and there will be much more action at the frontlines. Interviewer: Are you ready to stay here for a long time?
Absolutely. I’m here to fight against Daesh and I want to stay here as long as Daesh exists. When Daesh is done, when ISIS is finished, then I can go back to America.”

SOUNDBITE (English, Man) Hans Schneider, German YPG Fighter

05:50 - 08:32

“I will not tell you my real name. People call me Hans Schneider; Kurds call me Agit. I came here to help the Kurds in their fight against the terrorists in Rojava. Interview: How long can you stay here?
I can stay as long as I want. I’m young; I’m healthy. I don’t have a home to go back to, so I can stay as long as I need.
Interviewer: Why are you here exactly?
Exactly, I’m here to help the Kurds in their fight against the terrorists and of course to help them fight for their freedom because the Kurds deserve their own country. They have been fighting for a long time and it will go on for a long time, I believe. Yes, I’m here to help them.
Interviewer: The guns that you have with you in the YPG are they enough for you to fight ISIS or do you need more?
When ISIS is out of Rojava, the Kurds will work more on their infrastructure and with things like that I can help them too, of course. To build up their military or build their infrastructure; their logistical system and transport – everything.
Interviewer: Do YPG fighters have enough weapons to fight ISIS or do they need more help from outside?
Yes, they could… It would be better if they could get more help from the outside, like training, equipment, weapons, heavy weapons, equipment like bulletproof vests, every kind of protection, weapons, ammunition, artillery, heavy weapons, everything.

Interviewer: OK, thank you.

And of course, of course… humanitarian help like food and shelter for the poor people and maybe education. You can help the Kurds in every way. Every kind of help is good.
Other countries [should] stand up and start to help the Kurds gain their freedom so that they can improve and build their own country and territory.”

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German Citizen YPG Fighter Interview ...
YPG Base in Ras Al Ayn
By Andrew Nunn
29 Dec 2014

40 minutes of raw footage, B-roll and, interview of westerner from Germany fighting with YPG "Lions"

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (8 of 17)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
13 Jul 2013

April 12, 2013. Ziad, an FSA fighter, rides one of the local neighborhood children's bicycles. When there is no fighting, the rebels are often bored.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (4 of 17)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
13 Jul 2013

April 13, 2013. Three children talk in front of their family homes. This used to be the frontline in the YPG-FSA fights.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (6 of 17)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
12 Jul 2013

April 12, 2013. Entering Serekaniye from the YPG side, the war seems forgotten on the soccer field.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (17 of 17)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
12 Jul 2013

Roken fights with the YPJ, the Kurdish Women's Defense Forces. She joined the YPJ after she saw the devastation of the fights with the Free Syrian Army last November.

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Syrian oil farmers
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
17 Jun 2013

Article about homemade oil refining by farmers in Syria. It goes with the photos you can find under this link: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1279

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (7 of 17)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
24 Apr 2013

April 24, 2013. Ziad buys ice cream from a passing vendor. Before the war, he was a house painter. Now, he will fight until Assad falls.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (3 of 17)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
24 Apr 2013

April 24, 2013. Abu Ahmed, originally from Iraq, demonstrates on a passing neighbor girl how to behead someone. "With these hands I cannot hold my wife or my baby. My hands are dirty. When I fight, I go crazy. ... shows a video on his phone where he is seen torturing and beheading a shabiha ... After fighting, the next day, I look in my phone, and only then I realize what I did. I love the killing."

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (15 of 17)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
24 Apr 2013

An Arab boy flies a kite in the FSA/Jabhat al-Nusra controlled part of Ras al Ayn. The YPG-controlled part is called Serekaniye, the preferred name by most Kurdish citizens.

As there was a ceasefire at the time of taking this photo, the situation was relatively calm.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (12 of 17)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
23 Apr 2013

Osama and Haitem prepare newly delivered kalashnikovs and ammunition. The FSA command structure decides who receives which weapons. As Osama's brigade is relatively small (50 men) they don't get as many heavy weapons as they would want. Usama had a hard time getting proper weaponry from the FSA leaders of the Hasaka district. Many of Osama's men would prefer to fight for Jabhat al Nusra, as they have good weapons and claim many victories. In the last fights in Ras al Ayn, they fought together with Nusra as allies.

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Homemade oil refineries (9 of 12)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
21 Apr 2013

Once the diesel is made, a farmhand observes it to make sure it's pure. Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (9 of 17)
Ras Al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
21 Apr 2013

Abu Yusuf separates the men from the women in the line at the bakery.

He fights for the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra faction. In Ras al Ain, Nusra is allied with the FSA, where they have jointly fought the YPG.

In the night of 16 July, the YPG attacked the FSA and Jabhat al Nusra. In one night, at least 9 FSA/Nusra members died. Abu Yusuf shaved his beard and fled to Turkey.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (11 of 17)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
21 Apr 2013

Osama, commander of an FSA battalion, test fires a new Kalashnikov in the garden of the house that his battalion now calls base. Osama is a Kurd from Al Qamishli. When the revolution began, he tried to start a Kurdish FSA battalion. But after the first fights against the YPG, he gave up on that. "I am still Kurdish, but what the PYD wants is not what every Kurd wants. Kurdistan should be under control of Damascus. This town, that the PKK calls Serekaniye, I call it Ras al Ayn."

Commander losses are not easy on him. "I usually retreat as the last person. That way I feel less guilty when my men die."

During the last fights with the YPG (16 July) his battalion got run out of Ras al Ayn. Some of his men died. The survivors are currently fighting elsewhere.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (2 of 17)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
20 Apr 2013

April 20, 2013. Mohamed Abu Ahmed is asleep in the house they now call base camp. It used to be owned by a pro-Assad family. Where they are now is unclear.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (5 of 17)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
13 Apr 2013

April 13, 2013. Muhamed's house is on the old front line. During the last fights, he sent his family to safety and fought the FSA on the other side of the street. The fights lasted 5 days, during which he did not sleep or leave his house. When the fights finished, he wrote: "Even when the parties destroy, burn, and kill everything ... I will not leave my house."

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (1 of 17)
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
13 Apr 2013

April 13, 2013. Um Nasir stands in the alley next to her house where heavy fighting took place earlier.

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Serekaniye or Ras al Ayn (16 of 17)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
13 Apr 2013

Three YPG fighters have breakfast at their base. Their victories over the FSA are easily explained: "The FSA rebels are not trained and don't know how to fight. They're not even from here. They should fight Assad, not us. This town will be called Serekaniye; Ras al Ayn is a new Arab name. It was never named like that before."

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YPG rebel training Syria (13 of 16)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
12 Apr 2013

Amara (14, right) leaves the room as Abu Delu, one of the Kurdish leaders in Ras al Ain, wishes her good night. Abu Delu (middle): 'We are preparing our young boys and girls to fight for a better future'.

The YPG base, where Amara is stationed, used to be a base where President Bashar al-Assad's men were known to torture citizens of Ras al-Ayn. When asked if she is ready for possible fighting Amara answered, 'The first time I shot my Kalashnikov I was scared, but now I can't wait to fight. Officially I am too young to fight with the other girls. I still have to train more at the military school.'

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YPG rebel training Syria (1 of 16)
Syria
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
12 Apr 2013

Amara (14, left), Beritan (17, middle) and Rhoken (19) in the YPG base in Serekaniye. They finished their training and are now full members of the YPJ, the female branch of the Kurdish rebel army YPG. Amara joined the YPJ after her house got bombed by Assad's jets. Her older sister has children, so she choose to join the revolution in a different way. She is now a Kurdish teacher, something that was forbidden before the war.

When these photos were taken, there was a ceasefire between Al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the YPG, who both controlled part of the city.

The three girls fought in the recent battle that drove out the Islamist fighters, but were kept away from the front line. They all survived and are now stationed in different parts of Kurdish Syria.