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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
21 Mar 2015

On 21 March dozens of Syrian Kurds in Qamishli celebrated the Nowruz, the beginning of the Kurdish New Year.  

Since both militias have been engaged in a decisive and difficult battle to drive ISIS from northeast Syria, symbols of the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) militias were widely present during the celebration. 

Qamishli is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political wing of the YPG and YPJ, and has declared autonomy over majority Syrian Kurdish areas that are collectively known in Kurdish as Rojava.

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Syrian Kurdish Refugees Find a Home i...
Akre
By Mat Wolf
20 Mar 2015

March 20, 2015
Akre, Iraqi Kurdistan 


Housed inside a former detention facility, Syrian Kurds who fled fighting in their homeland are doing their best to restore normalcy in their lives in the mountainous Iraqi Kurdish city of Akre in the Dohuk government.
 
At the Akre settlement for Syrian Kurds—housed inside a former prison and Baathist military base—parents look on as their children run around the facility’s courtyard setting off fireworks. Youngsters are also working on a mural covering part of the two-story, yellow brick facility’s walls and stairwells in an art project sponsored by the Rise Foundation NGO and local teachers. Cartoon characters, animals and hearts are popular themes in the artwork.
 
“I like the trees, flowers, woods—the natural views,” says English teacher and fellow refugee Nazim Qamr, 29. He adds he’d prefer the children avoid cartoon characters, but it’s not up to him.
 
“We ask the children and listen to their opinions about what they like and don’t like,” Qamr says. 
 
As rays of sun occasionally poke through the clouds on an otherwise gloomy March 20, Iraqi Kurdistan’s mountains and postcard beauty makes it easy to forget the Akre settlement is a refugee camp. Housing just under 1,500 people—many of them small children—its residents are afforded small apartments converted from prison cells, and many admit they’re superior to the UN tents and ad-hoc structures that define many of the region’s refugee camps.
 
“They gave each family a room,” says 24-year-old English teacher Kawther Ahmed, originally from Damascus. She came to Akre with her family a year and a half ago, and said camp administrators from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government have done their best to ensure the Syrian Kurds feel welcome. “Compared to the tents, this building is better than the tents,” she says.
 
Because the Syrians at Akre have been taken in by their fellow Kurds, they’re also allowed more privileges than the local government typically allows non-Kurdish refugees. Residents of the Akre settlement are allowed to freely come and go from the camp once they’ve filed residency paperwork, and can seek work in the local community. But despite some advantages given to Kurdish refugees in Kurdish territory, many of Akre’s Syrians still bear the scars of their homeland’s complex civil war, and have faced difficulties in adjusting to life in Iraq.
 
Adnan Mahmoud, 35, says he is originally a mechanic from Qamishli who fled the forces of the so-called Islamic State in Syria and came to Iraq a year and half ago. Since that time he’s developed a cataract in his left eye, and he says he’s gone partially blind. “It’s a simple surgery, but they don’t have doctors here to do it, and I’ve filed paperwork to go to a hospital that can, but nothing’s working,” he says.

He adds his young daughter Haifa has suffered a knee injury, and has had an X-ray done, but she also needs surgery and the refugees at Akre can’t find basic medical care.
 
Mahmoud’s friend and neighbor Samir Mohamed Saleh, 31, is a former restaurant worker who lived in both Syria and Lebanon before fleeing to Iraq a year and a half ago. He adds that in addition to insufficient medical care, work opportunities for Syrian Kurds in Iraq are limited and low paying.
 
They both say they’d like to be able to find real, serious work like they had in Syria. Like other men in the camp, they’ve found work packing and loading gravel, but they say the salary is poor and the work exhausting, sometimes for as little as $1.30 a day.
 
“We need real work, we need self-respect,” Samir says.
 
He adds however he thinks the Iraqi Kurds have been gracious, and that at least in Akre he has a roof over his head and food to eat.
 
“It’s good here, we have bread, electricity, food and water,” he says. “The Kurds in Iraq have helped us a lot, I mean we’re the same nation, but we still need more.” 

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish men and women perform a traditional dance during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli, Syria. The Nowruz has nationalist as well as cultural significance for Kurds around the world.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women perform a traditional dance during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli. Syrian Kurds were not allowed to celebrate the Nowruz in public before the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women and men perform a traditional dance during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli. Qamishli is part of a de-facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria, controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women carry torches during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli, Syria. Kurdish women have had a large role fighting in the ranks of the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) militia against ISIS.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

A young Syrian Kurd carries a torch during a Nowruz celebration in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

A Kurdish girl stands during a minute of silence in remembrance of fallen Kurdish fighters.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish men and women march during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish men and women carry torches and Kurdish flags during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women are pictured during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish women are pictured during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Young Kurdish men march during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

A Kurdish woman carries a torch during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Kurdish women declare victory as they gather around a bonfire during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli. The ritual fire symbolizes revival at the beginning of the New Year.

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Syrian Kurds Celebrate Nowruz in Qami...
Syria
By Bedir
20 Mar 2015

Kurdish men and women dance around a bonfire and brandish the People's Protection Units (YPG)' s flag during a celebration of Nowruz in Qamishli.

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Body of Slain Female German Fighter t...
Qamishli
By TTM Contributor 33
11 Mar 2015

Qamishli, Syria
March 11, 2015

The body of Ivana Hoffman, a German national and member of the Turkish Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) who died battling ISIS, was returned to her bereaved mother and friends who had been waiting on the Turkish side of the border with northwestern Syria. Believed to be the first female foreign fighter to die fighting ISIS, she was killed Saturday as the YPG and YPJ fought to take back the Assyrian town of Tal Tamr. Known under her nom de guerre as Avasin Tekosin Gunes, she had joined the Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPJ) six months ago.

SHOTLIST

Wide of Ivana Hoffman’s mother weeping on the Turkish side of the border
Wide of Kurdish men and women carrying Ivana Hoffman’s coffin on the Syrian side of the border
Close-up of Ivana Hoffman’s coffin
R-L pan of woman holding Ivana Hoffman’s picture and Ivana Hoffman’s mother
Wide of Kurdish officials and citizens surrounding Ivana Hoffman’s coffin
Wide of woman holding Ivana Hoffman’s picture and Ivana Hoffman’s mother
Wide of Kurdish officials and citizens surrounding Ivana Hoffman’s coffin
Medium of woman comforting Ivana Hoffman’s mother on the Turkish side of the border
Medium of Ivan Hoffman’s friends and mother and Turkish security officers on the Turkish side of the border
Wide of Ivana Hoffman’s mother weeping her coffin and surrounded by Kurdish officials and citizens
Wide of Ivana Hoffman’s mother receiving condolences next to her coffin
Wide of MLKP members and other women carrying Ivana Hoffman’s coffin into Turkey and chanting

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Kurdish, Arab Forces Retake Strategic...
Tal Hamis
By Bedir
28 Feb 2015

Tal Hamis, Syria
February 28, 2015

On 27 February Kurdish and Arab militias recaptured Tal Hamis from ISIS, a town located in the Hasaka province of Syria and some 35km south of Qamishli, a major regional city on the Turkish border that has been hotly contested by ISIS and Kurdish forces in recent months.

Fighters involved belong to various Kurdish militias: the People’s Protection Units (YPG); the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ); and the Shengal Resistance Units, in addition to Arab forces known as Jaish al-Sanadid (The Army of the Brave) which are affiliated with the influential Shummar tribal confederation.

Shummar tribes, for their part, inhabit areas that stretch across Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. An influential ISIS commander in Raqqa originally from Saudi Arabia, known as Abu Abdullah Daigham, is from one of the Shummar clans.

According to field commanders interviewed in Tal Hamis, ISIS fighters fled strikes on the ground and airstrikes carried out by the international coalition on Tal Hamis before heading to desert areas in the south of Hasaka province. Commanders also said their forces were preparing to take control of the road between Raqqa province in Syria and Mosul province in Mosul, both of which are major ISIS strongholds. Military commanders said that ISIS fighters had been using Tal Hamis to launch artillery and car bomb attacks against neighboring areas.

Tal Hamis had been under ISIS control for a year and a half and most of its civilians, ethnic Arabs, Kurds, Syriacs and Assyrians, have fled to Qamishli.

SHOTLIST

Wide of road; road sign reads “Tal Hamis”
Wide of male and female fighters entering Tal Hamis
Various of lettering on walls in Kurdish and Arabic apparently left by Kurdish ISIS fighters
Wide of lettering on the wall “There is no God but Allah. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”  
Various of lettering on walls in Kurdish and Arabic apparently left by Kurdish ISIS fighters
Moving shot of room interior – ISIS flag on the wall
Moving shot of combat fatigues scattered on the floor
Close-up of what appears to be a logbook left by Kurdish ISIS fighters
Lettering on the wall in Kurdish; lettering in English reads “Be careful of our sniper Abu Dujana Al-Kindy 143/4/2014”
Interview with Assi Dahham, commander of Jaish al-Sanadid commander (SOUNDBITE)
Various of two fighters inspecting destroyed tank
Wide of YPG convoy
Interview with Idris Qamishlo (nom de guerre), YPG Commander (SOUNDBITE)
Interview with Sarhad Hemo (now de guerre), YPG fighter (SOUNDBITE)
Traveling of grain silos
Wide of Kurdish fighters inspecting ammunition(SOUNDBITE)
Various of fighters near destroyed buildings
Wide/ R-L traveling of buildings and YPG flags
R-L traveling of town

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Syrian Assyrians Flee ISIS to Qamishli
Al-Qamishli
By TTM Contributor 33
25 Feb 2015

Qamishli, Syria
February 26, 2015

Christian-Assyrian refugees seek refuge in the Kurdish controlled city of Qamishli after fleeing ISIS advances on their villages of Tal Tamer, Tal Harmoza, Tal al-Jazeera, Tal Kouran and Abu Tina in the Hasakeh province. ISIS militants recently kidnapped 220 Assyrians in Hasakeh province setting a dangerous precedent for christians in the area and spurring entire villages to abandon their homes and flee ISIS advances.

SHOTLIST AND SOUNDBITES

Wide/ external of the Syriac Cultural Association in Syria
Wide of men holding diaper packs destined for displaced families
Wide of diaper packs and other supplies
Wide of supplies in pickup trucks
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Michael Kourieh, Member of the Syriac Cross
00:23 – 01:30
The Syriac Cross for Relief and Development. Our work currently revolves on to help our Assyrian brothers who fled the Khabour and Tal Tamer areas. They are living in several Assyrian churches. Our aim is to help the Assyrian so that they would feel at home. As you see from these supplies, we work all day long so they would not feel like strangers.
More importantly, from the information that we gathered, we learned that the displaced came from the Khabour area in the hundreds.
We feel sad about that, but we are trying our best to help them and offer them aid.
Various associations in Qamishli are involved in this work, such as the United Nations and Mother Syria Association. Everyone is making an effort [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. We are all coordinating our work and we hope that everyone is pleased with our work. God willing, we shall remain a unified people. “

Wide of Syriac Cross members unloading aid supplies
Wide/ external Syriac Cultural Association in Syria
Wide of aid supplies

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Elizabeth Jouqa, A displaced from Tal Tamer area

01:50 – 03:30

We fled the moment we first heard that ISIS kidnapped women, young men and children. We ran away before ISIS arrived to avoid being captured.
Interviewer: Did many people flee?
Many! There is about 600 [displaced] families here in Qamishli. May God safeguard you.
My relatives were abducted. We do not where they are. Amy God protect them from [ISIS]. May God break their arms.
Interviewer: When did the attack take place?
It was in the morning. We heard about in the morning. We called our relatives In Tal Shmeiran who told us that [ISIS] invaded their village. They said that [ISIS] had taken the men two days earlier to an unknown location and that they were like sheep to the church and did not know what was going to happen to them.
Our men, fighters from the Sotoro organisation and the Kurds, may God protect them, defended the people, but what could they do? The others [ISIS] are many. There were probably 600 of them.
Interviewer: who do you demand help from? The international community? The autonomous administration here? Regional countries?

What can I say?
Interviewer: Do you want aid form the United Nations? Who do you want aid from?

We are grateful for anyone who wants to help us. I do not know who should help us.
Wide of Syriac Cross members unloading aid supplies
Wide of street
Traveling of street

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Julia Butros, A displaced from Tal Tawil village
03:49 – 05:27
It was in at five in the evening. They [the rescuers] took children and their father. It was at five o’clock. People fled using a mobile diesel tank. They removed the tank from the vehicle and put people in its place and took to Hasaka, and from Hasaka they were brought here to Qamishli. People arrived here at midnight. The trip started at five and took all night long.
We do not anyone who was kidnapped. It is said that people were kidnapped in other villages. We cannot say anything other than that we have seen did not see.
Interviewer: Did ISIS blow churches?
They did in another village but not in Tal Tawil. They blew up churches in another village. . In other villages there people whose whereabouts are not known.
Interviewer: How many people fled to Hasaka and Qamishli?

I do not know. May be around 300 or 400 people. Around 100 people fled from our village, Tal Tawil.

Interviewer: who do you demand help from? The international community? The United Nations?
May God reward them, whether they offered aid or not. May God reward you and anyone who helps these troubled people.
Interviewer: Is ISIS present in your village?
[ISIS] is present in other villages. This man’s wife does know anything about her family. Interviewer: Did the Kurdish fighters and the Syriac Council liberate these villages?
They are trying to help, I am not saying that they are not, but what can they do?

Wide of Syriac Cross members unloading aid supplies
Various of Christian icons hung on a wall
Close-up of sign hung on an aid vehicle reads: “An initiative of love and solidarity towards from Tal Tamer and Khabour.”

Close-up of sign on aid vehicle “Syriac Cross Organization for Relief & Development”
Medium of sign on aid vehicle “Syriac Cross Organization for Relief & Development”

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Kurdish Forces Take Back ISIS-held Vi...
Tal Hamis
By TTM Contributor 33
24 Feb 2015

Tal Hamis, Syria

February 24, 2015

The YPG began a military operation on 21 February 2015 to retake a village 42km southeast of Qamishli called Tal Hamis and which had been occupied by ISIS for over a year. With the support of the coalition air force, they were able to reclaim 25 villages and a residential area of roughly 50 square kilometers, in addition to killing over 16 ISIS members and taking their munitions.

The battle began on three fronts, southeast of Qamishli, south of the town of Tel Maarouf, and southwest of Kahtaneya. The YPG used heavy weaponry, tanks, armors and cannons. Meanwhile, the coalition air force targeted many areas controlled by ISIS, leading to the death of dozens of its members.

SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT

Various of YPG fighters preparing for military operation

Wide of shops

These photographs depict the conflict

Travelling of smoke

Moving shot of armoured excavation vehicle

Various of YPG tanks and military vehicles
Various of YPG fighters
Wide of shots with broken windows
Wide of YPG fighters
Wide of smoke rising
Traveling of field, smoke rising
Traveling of closed shops
Traveling of fallen electric cables
Wide of YPG armored personnel carrier
Various of fighters

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Younes al-Jabouri, Arab YPG fighter
03:52- 04:45
“In the name of God, The operation began yesterday when the YPG liberated 30 villages all the way to [UNINTELLIGIBLE] and we killed around seven [fighters]. We will continue; we are getting closer to Tell Hamis, and we will keep going from Syria into Iraq. Wherever we find terrorism, we will fight it. My nom de guerre is Abu Kassar [UNINTELLIGIBLE].

SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Man) Yasser Khaniqa, YPG field commander

04:48 – 05:30
“We started the operation yesterday to liberate most of the areas occupied by ISIS. We liberated 30 villages starting with rural Qamishli and heading toward Tel Hamees in the southeast. The operation is continuing with positive results: dozens of villages have been liberated, such as Taya, Kherbet Tair, Farsook, Taweel, Deibe, Naege, not to mention many farms. They also killed over 16 members of ISIS. The operation will continue until we have liberated all the areas and the people can return to their villages.”

Various of Yasser Khaniqa handling weapon
Various of fighters preparing food in the outdoors
Various of military vehicles
Traveling of two fighters walking with their rifles

SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Man) Javan Mohamad, Kurdish fighter

08: 01 – 08:30
“We were able to reach Tel Hamees; we liberated dozens of villages; members of ISIS are escaping because of our strikes; we killed dozens of ISIS members; our operations will continue; we will win.”

Traveling of road

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Fighters and Civilians Celebrate Kurd...
Countryside of Al-Qamishli
By Bedir
23 Feb 2015

NOTE Graphic scenes were removed from this video. If you are interested in obtaining them please contact Transterra Media.

People’s Protection Units (YPG) are advancing near Qamishli and have already retaken over 25 villages in military operations against ISIS all throughout Syria. The YPG began a military campaign about two days ago against villages and urban centers controlled by ISIS located in rural areas to the south of Qamishli.

The military operation continues for the third consecutive day with the support of coalition air forces. With their help, the YPG were able to liberate dozens of villages.
This operation was well received by both the Arab and Kurdish inhabitants of these villages, who both demonstrated their support when the YPG entered their villages to free them from the control of ISIS, which is restricting them and denying them their freedom.

Soundbites

(Arabic, man) Ali al-Hameed, Arab YPG fighter:
“Our goal is to rid all the villages in the area of ISIS; the YPG are quickly advancing. We are all brothers in fighting ISIS.

(Kurdish, man) Hoker Hussein, Kurdish fighter:
“We are here to avenge our martyrs who died in previous battles in Tilhamis. We get our strength and determination from the blood of the martyrs and the support of our people and, thanks to them, we shall win against ISIS.”

(Kurdish, woman) Mother of female fighter:
“We are here today to show loyalty to the blood of our martyrs. We have a good spirit and we have complete faith in our victory and that we are going to liberate our area from ISIS.”

(Kurdish, man) Idris Taher Aziz, Kurdish civilian from the village of Kherbet Jehash:
“When ISIS came close to our villages, we escaped their violent assaults. Now we have decided to return to our village after it was liberated by the YPG. We are happy to return home and, thanks to the YPG, life is slowly getting back to normal.”

(Arab, man) Majeed al-Habib, an Arab from the village of Bazoona:
“ISIS treated us horribly. They used to implement tough laws; they banned us from smoking; they forced women to wear the Niqab; and threatened our religious sites in the village. When the YPG entered and liberated us, we were very happy and welcomed them.”

(Kurdish, man): Nori, Kurdish fighter:

“When you look at those documents and papers, you see strange laws and regulations, as if you were living 2000 years before this time. It really indicates how retrograde their mentality is and how much suffering they have imposed on people. We have 7 ISIS fighters’ corpses, some are Arabs, some are foreigners. One had a Saudi flag, indicating the Saudi identity of some of them.”

Shotlist

Interviews with the fighters and shots of the liberated villages.
Shots of the liberated villages and their civilians
Interviews with the civilians
Various of YPG’s military forces
Various of remnants, documents and possessions, including flag of Saudi Arabia, presumably left behind by ISIS
Various of Nori, the fighter, speaking

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Fighters and Civilians Celebrate Kurd...
Countryside of Al-Qamishli
By Bedir
23 Feb 2015

People’s Protection Units (YPG) are advancing near Qamishli and have already retaken over 25 villages in military operations against ISIS all throughout Syria. The YPG began a military campaign about two days ago against villages and urban centers controlled by ISIS located in rural areas to the south of Qamishli.

The military operation continues for the third consecutive day with the support of coalition air forces. With their help, the YPG were able to liberate dozens of villages.
This operation was well received by both the Arab and Kurdish inhabitants of these villages, who both demonstrated their support when the YPG entered their villages to free them from the control of ISIS, which is restricting them and denying them their freedom.

Soundbites

(Arabic, man) Ali al-Hameed, Arab YPG fighter:
“Our goal is to rid all the villages in the area of ISIS; the YPG are quickly advancing. We are all brothers in fighting ISIS.

(Kurdish, man) Hoker Hussein, Kurdish fighter:
“We are here to avenge our martyrs who died in previous battles in Tilhamis. We get our strength and determination from the blood of the martyrs and the support of our people and, thanks to them, we shall win against ISIS.”

(Kurdish, woman) Mother of female fighter:
“We are here today to show loyalty to the blood of our martyrs. We have a good spirit and we have complete faith in our victory and that we are going to liberate our area from ISIS.”

(Kurdish, man) Idris Taher Aziz, Kurdish civilian from the village of Kherbet Jehash:
“When ISIS came close to our villages, we escaped their violent assaults. Now we have decided to return to our village after it was liberated by the YPG. We are happy to return home and, thanks to the YPG, life is slowly getting back to normal.”

(Arab, man) Majeed al-Habib, an Arab from the village of Bazoona:
“ISIS treated us horribly. They used to implement tough laws; they banned us from smoking; they forced women to wear the Niqab; and threatened our religious sites in the village. When the YPG entered and liberated us, we were very happy and welcomed them.”

(Kurdish, man): Nori, Kurdish fighter:

“When you look at those documents and papers, you see strange laws and regulations, as if you were living 2000 years before this time. It really indicates how retrograde their mentality is and how much suffering they have imposed on people. We have 7 ISIS fighters’ corpses, some are Arabs, some are foreigners. One had a Saudi flag, indicating the Saudi identity of some of them.”

Shotlist

Interviews with the fighters and shots of the liberated villages.
Shots of the liberated villages and their civilians
Interviews with the civilians
Shots of YPG’s military forces
Various of remnants, documents and possessions presumably left by left behind by ISIS fighters, including Saudi Arabia flag
Various of Nori, the fighter, speaking
Various of ISIS fighters corpses being held by the YPG

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Swedish Journalist Reflects on His De...
Al Qamishli
By Bedir
22 Feb 2015

Qamishli, Syria

February 22, 2015

Swedish journalist Joakim Medin talks about his four-day detention in a Syrian government prison in the vicinity of Qamishli, a town in Kurdish Syria he was covering as a freelancer. Arrested at a government checkpoint when he failed to produce a visa, he explains that very few journalists travel to Syria with the necessary legal documentation. Despite the relatively harsh conditions of his confinement - his cell was cold, dark and dirty - Medin says he was treated much better than other prisoners. He finishes by stressing the broader context of the battle of ideas - in addition to the brutal physical struggle - that is still being waged for the future Syria and Iraq - the right of people to live and work their land; the right of religious minorities to practice their faith. This is why journalists must continue to cover these areas in person, even if at times that means doing so without a visa.

TRANSCRIPT AND SHOTLIST

SOUNDBITE (English, Man) Joakim Medin, Swedish Reporter Detained by Syrian Government Forces
00:00

“We were walking down the street down in central Qamishli, on the 15th of February. On this day a lot of people stay away from, from their jobs and closed down their shops and so on, because it was a special memorial day, because of the arrest of Abdullah Ocalan on the same day in 1999. There was not so much people and movement, but this same day soldiers of the Syrian government also, for some reason put up a temporary roadblock or checkpoint just outside the government post office of Qamishli. They were stopping cars and checking people. When we passed this checkpoint on the sidewalk, they immediately arrested us and… and in a prisoners’ car and drove us to the local police station nearby. They accused me of not having a visa, a Syrian visa despite being there. “They put us in prison and I was told that they had to investigate this thing out. I explained that yes, this is correct I did not have a visa because this is the way journalists get into this area; an area of Syria that’s been heavily transformed and affected by the war with Daesh [ISIS] erasing the borders. So of course I didn’t have a visa unfortunately. I was told that in a matter of hours – one hour, five hours, ten hours – this matter would be resolved. “You have to stay in prison for this period of time.” However, these hours turned into days.

02:13
“I was treated much differently and better than the other inmates – the other prisoners – they accused the others of being sympathisers with Daesh. They were treated well at all. The situation with them was really bad. But I was locked in a tiny isolation cell. I was isolated from the other prisoners. There was no light, no access to fresh water. It was dirty and I had to sleep on the concrete floor. It was difficult. It was very different from the conditions of prisons in my country. Still, I was better treated. I was not seen as the other prisoners. I could go… I had access to the toilet. After four days, things suddenly changed. They drove an ambulance to the front of the building and we had to get in…”
Interviewer: “Why did they use an ambulance and not a normal car?”
“To get to the airport and not to be seen… I don’t know. We were handcuffed and blindfolded and they drove to the airport where we took a plane to Damascus under other identities. We did not fly under our real name but under false names. I was a 25-year-old man from Spain. Then we came to Damascus and I was imprisoned in the center of one the branches of Syrian intelligence.”

04:05
Interviewer: “And what about the situation in Damascus?”
“In Damascus the situation was sometimes similar. For example, there were also very small cells. [I was] locked in isolation. I wasn’t able to speak to anyone. I had access to nothing, no possessions.” Interviewer: “Did you see any ambassador as they promised you?”
“No, there was no ambassador. When I asked there was no response, really.” Interviewer: “What was the kind of questions?”
“Soon the interrogation…. It was about the cells… We were blindfolded and taken to different rooms where there people asking questions or reading information from a laptop for example. The questions were about why I came. The questions were targeting mainly why I came to Syria without a visa, and I explained to them that this was the only way I thought [I could] this area to be able to report. There were three subjects that I was here to report about: the situation of women, the situation of Christians, and the Kurds and the Yezidis fighting Daseh six months after the massacre in Shingal. “But soon these questions turned into more focus on whether I had some sort of assistance from Turkey and Israel to enter Syria. I explained that this was not the case. I was helped by these foreign countries.” Interviewer: “Have you been threatened in prison, that they will kill you?”
“No, but I felt unconformable. The days kept going and there was no information about… if my embassy was contacted, or if I can contact my family. They specifically said: “No, you cannot contact your family.”
Interviewer: And then what happened?
“Well, until yesterday at lunchtime, still… at least I thought it was very uncertain about what will happen. Still, there was no information. Still, a lot of questions, especially about Israel. Still kept in cells… and suddenly in the afternoon something happened. We were again told that we will fly away from Damascus using, again, false identities. We had to repeat these names over and over. We were told that will go back to Qamishli to be imprisoned there. That afternoon we were blindfolded again and driven in some sort of van with black windows to the airport, where we took a [civilian] plane again and came back to Qamishli. “First we were taken to the same regime prison in Qamishli, and the treatment somehow changed. They were acting different, more hospitable in a way. It was obvious that something had happened. They were very nice and polite. Interviewer: “In your opinion, what happened?”
“Well, we found out a bit later when we were taken to different offices to meet with a lot of people [whose] names we didn’t get, really. I don’t remember them. Suddenly we came to an office where the flag on the wall changed from the Syrian one [to that] of the YPG. That’s when at least I suddenly realized, “Ah! Suddenly we’re safe.” Just like this. Up until the last minute, I had no idea what was going to happen at all. I had no assurance at all about what was happening. “So we were told… we met with Redor Khalil, the spokesperson of the YPG, who told us that the Kurdish forces and the Kurdish administration in the region have been deploying forces and putting pressure on the Syrian government basically from the very beginning to let us go, and when this diplomacy – if you can call it [as such] – failed because of continued misinformation, I guess, then one or several high-ranking officers in the Syrian army – Syrian government army – were arrested by the YPG. Then there was a question of exchanging prisoners. And also, there was the threat of how the YPG would eventually intervene against the government-controlled airport outside Qamishli and basically stop all traffic unless we got released. This pressure eventually… well we got taken back from Damascus to Qamishli, which is not a normal process to happen this fast. And we got released.

10:03
“I and many others still think that this is something… what’s happening here with the… the social situation changes in Syria… the fight against Daesh, the fight to make people stay on their own land, in their own homes, the fight for minorities to stay in their own homes and not be ethnically cleansed by Daesh, the fight for many ideas and things and the war on that… I mean if we want anyone in the world to know about this, any people, we must be able to go. Sometimes it means that you come without a visa, unfortunately. “This is one of the few areas in Syria where we see social mobilization to protect the society in… in… it could stay the way it is not to make it collapse, but at the same time transform it into something better in the meantime. So I think if we want to see the region to be safe to report from and inside, and also see maybe an example of what Syria can like with stability, then this is one of these regions. I think it’s very important to keep coming here to report for the sake of all of Syria.”

11:33
Various of Joachim Medin with Sabri Omar, the interpreter who was arrested with him

Various of Joachim Medin indoors

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Wounded Dutch Kurdish YPG Fighter (re...
Qamishili, Syria
By Andrew Nunn
23 Jan 2015

Interview with Richard Jansen (aka "Sarahat Bhotan") at Qamishili YPG Military Hospital, "Nexwesxaneya S.Xebat"

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Dutch Fighter Wounded in Battle for S...
YPG medical clinic in Al-Qamishili, Syria
By Andrew Nunn
23 Jan 2015

In the city of Qamishili, inside of Rojava Syrian Kurdistan, a Dutch man is recovering inside of a hospital for the Kurdish fighters of the YPG. He was reportedly wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device in the city of Shingal, where the battle against the Islamic State is in full swing.

“I just don’t know what happened. Someone got I.E.D. on me. I don’t remember anything. I just remember, they told me I got an I.E.D. on my head. They screwed me over. I just don’t know what happened, man. Just blacked out.”

Dr Abat Abu Mohammad, "Sarahat Bhotan... (Alias, actual identity withheld) When he came to us from Shingal, he'd been hit with shrapnel and he was in shock. When he came the surgeon and all the doctors gathered in. We called more doctors, and all of them came. The comrade was in a coma when he got here and there was some shrapnel in his head and his face and hands. The shrapnel came from bombs and a mortar rocket -- what the Islamic State terrorists are using. We did an operation, and took the Shrapnel out of his head, two pieces of the shrapnel were large pieces, and we were just hoping for our comrade to live. He spent five days in the intensive care unit. He's been on IV infusion and some things and he's started to get better and better.”

While the Dutchman known as Bhotan by his comrades in the YPG, fights to make a full recovery, the YPG and many other Kurdish factions of the Peshmerga continue to fight for the city of Shingal and Sinjar Mountain.

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Dutch Fighter Wounded in Battle for S...
Al-Qamishili, Syria
By Andrew Nunn
23 Jan 2015

In the Kurdish controlled city of Qamishili, Syria, a Dutch man is recovering inside of a hospital for the Kurdish fighters of the YPG. He was reportedly wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device in the city of Shingal, Iraq, where the battle against the Islamic State is in full swing.

Frame 0004
Western Lions of Rojava: Dutch Citize...
YPG Hospital Qamishili
By Andrew Nunn
20 Jan 2015

In the city of Qamishili, inside of Rojava Syrian Kurdistan, a Dutch man is recovering inside of a hospital for the Kurdish fighters of the YPG. He was reportedly wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device in the city of Shingal, where the battle against the Islamic State is in full swing.

“I just don’t know what happened. Someone got I.E.D. on me. I don’t remember anything. I just remember, they told me I got an I.E.D. on my head. They screwed me over. I just don’t know what happened, man. Just blacked out.”

Dr Abat Abu Mohammad, "Sarahat Bhotan... (Alias, actual identity withheld) When he came to us from Shingal, he'd been hit with shrapnel and he was in shock. When he came the surgeon and all the doctors gathered in. We called more doctors, and all of them came. The comrade was in a coma when he got here and there was some shrapnel in his head and his face and hands. The shrapnel came from bombs and a mortar rocket -- what the Islamic State terrorists are using. We did an operation, and took the shrapnel out of his head, two pieces of the shrapnel were large pieces, and we were just hoping for our comrade to live. He spent five days in the intensive care unit. He's been on IV infusion and some things and he's started to get better and better.”

While the Dutchman known as Bhotan by his comrades in the YPG, fights to make a full recovery, the YPG and many other Kurdish factions of the Peshmerga continue to fight for the city of Shingal and Sinjar Mountain.

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Syria's Christian Militia: "We want t...
Al Malikiya
By hoger
12 Jan 2015

Al-Malikiya, Syria
January 13, 2015

In the northeastern province of Hasaka, Syria, the Christian Assyrian community has formed its own police force. Members of Sutoro, which means “security” in the Assyrian language, said in interviews featured in this video that they protect their people. A Sutoro commander also invited all the Assyrians who left the area for their security to return.
The first Sutoro headquarters was officially set up in the town of Derik (also known as Al-Malikiya) in 2013, in cooperation with the Kurdish PYD party, which has set up an autonomous administration in large parts of Hasaka province and other predominantly Kurdish areas.

1- Various of Sutoro fighters

2- SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Jawad, Sutoro fighter
(00:18-00:32) "We came to defend our land, our people and our dignity. We are patrolling the streets and setting up checkpoints. All of this is to protect our people."

3- Close up of Sutoro fighter’s badge
4- Wide of Sutoro flag
5- Wide of Sutoro fighter behind gate
6- Medium of Sutoro vehicle
7- Various of Sutoro fighters in vehicle

8- SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Qassem, Sutoro fighter
(00:55-01:05) “The goals of the organization are to protect the people. Protect the civilians and their properties from the mercenaries and terrorists.”

  1. SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man), Abdel Ahad Abdel Ahad, Sutoro field commander
    (01:06-02:28)

"We are a security organisation that belongs to our Christian people. We are called Sutoro [security in the Assyrian language]. We established this security headquarters to solve our people’s problem in this area and to defend our churches and our people’s properties. In case we get any complaint, we register it and try to solve it and in case we were not able to solve it, we take it to the People’s Court. We have come to protect to protect this country. We want to say a word to our citizens, especially Christians who left this area and went to other countries because of the situation. We tell them to come back; do not be afraid of anything. There is nothing to be afraid of."

  1. Wide of Sutoro vehicle patrolling a street
  2. Wide of Sutoro fighters at checkpoint
  3. Wide of Sutoro flag
  4. Wide of car going through a checkpoint manned by Sutoro fighters
  5. Various of Sutoro fighters in patrol vehicle
  6. Close up of Sutoro fighter’s badge
  7. Wide of Sutoro fighter at checkpoint
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Training Women Fighters of the Kurdis...
Qamishle, Syria
By TTM Contributor 4
13 Nov 2014

Qamishle, Syria
November 8, 2014

Kurdish women have had a leading role in defending Kobane against ISIS. More than 1,000 women are actively involved in the fight, according to Heboun Derik, an official in the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), the women’s branch in the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

This video shows life inside a training camp in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in northeast Syria. In this camp, young women in their twenties leave the comfort of civilian life behind them to receive basic military training before they head to Kobane, one Syria’s fiercest frontlines.

Shot list:

00:00 – 01:25

Various shots show female fighters during field training.

01:26 – 01:48

Various shots show fighters during shooting practice.

01:49 – 02:17

Various shots show marching fighters, returning from the training field.

02:18 – 02:56
Various shots show fighters during lunch.

02:57 - 03:18
Various shots shows fighters dancing dabkeh.

03:19 – 03:49

Interview with 26-year-old trainer Furat, woman, Kurdish/ interview transcript below

03:50 – 04:17
Interview with Gulistan, the head of a 20-fighter unit in the YPJ, woman, Kurdish/ interview transcript below

04:18 – 05:04

Interview with Dijla, a female fighter, Kurdish/ interview transcript below

Interview with Gulistan, the head of a 20-fighter unit in the YPJ, woman, Kurdish/ interview transcript below

“I am 20 years old. I volunteered with the YPJ a year and a half ago. After I received my baccalaureate, I did not want to continue my studies at university. I decided to enlist in the YPJ after extremist groups attacked Kurdish areas.

“I am here to prove to the male-dominated society that women are not weak; they can protect their honor against the attacks carried out by ISIS, which is hiding behind Islam. Most of the girls who joined the YPJ have the same feeling. They have the will to free women from the restrictions that have governed them for so long.

“I am very happy to be at this training camp with the rest of my female comrades, even though we have been deprived of the leisure of civilian life; our military outfits are who we are. The attacks by ISIS against our areas increased our resilience. All of this created in us a stronger will to fight and give up everything for the sake of the homeland.

Interview with Dijla, a female fighter, Kurdish/ interview transcript below

I am 20 years old. I left my studies and joined the YPJ three years ago. At a certain moment, I realized that I had to offer something for my homeland and have a value among the society members. I call upon all girls to join the YPJ.
The attacks against our Kurdish areas were motivated many women to join the YPJ and pick up arms in order to save women’s dignity and honor.

Interview with Beritan, a female fighter, Kurdish/ interview transcript below

I am 21 years old. I obtained my middle school diploma and joined the YPJ when terrorist organizations attacked Sari Kaniyeh [Ras al-Ain] two years ago. It was my national duty to defend our homeland alongside men, and I am happy with this decision.

Interview with 26-year-old trainer Furat, woman, Kurdish/ interview transcript below

“Here, at the YPJ’s Martyr Sheilan training camp, I supervise the training of female fighters who have recently enlisted. In each training cycle, 20 trainees undergo physical and tactical training for two consecutive months. “The training program starts at 7 am with a physical fitness class, followed by an orientation session that covers fighting ethics, loyalty and love for the homeland and combat comrades, and an introduction to women’s rights.

“After that, fighters are taught how to use all kinds of light weapons – Kalashnikov rifles, machine guns, pistols and sniper rifles. We also simulate battles so that fighters would be accustomed to real fighting. Fighters in this training camp have enlisted voluntarily. They are between 20 and 25 years of age, and are very happy because they are convinced with their choice of a new life, which made them independent.

“After the training, there is lunch followed by a recreation time, during which the fighters practice their hobbies. They sing, dance dabkeh, play games or read. We try, as much as possible, to create an atmosphere of intimacy and love among the fighters so that they would not feel bored or tired, and so they do not feel far from their families.

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Kidnapped by ISIS and Forced to Conve...
Qamishli, Syria
By laura.lesevre
20 Oct 2014

Qamishli (Northern East Syria, close to the Turkish border): a Christian man tells when he was at the mercy of the Isis, forced to convert to Islam and threatened to be beheaded

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Syrian Kurdish Female Fighter Trainin...
Kobani
By hoger
17 Oct 2014

October 17, 2014
Kurdish training camp located between Qamishli and Kobane, Syria

Kurdish women who signed up for a military training camp to defend their towns from ISIS, speak about the reasons why they decided to join the Kurdish Peoples Protection Unit (YPG). Most are motivated by a desire to help repel ISIS attacks on their homes. They speak also about their lives in the camp.

Note that any woman who joins the force is given a new name, different from her original.

Shot list:

Fighters training (both women and men)
Interview with female fighters
Female fighters eating lunch
Female fighters shooting
Kurdish female fighter at checkpoint
Photos of fighters who lost their lives in the conflicts
Female fighters marching

Sound Bites:

(02:38) Naline, a 19-year-old fighter from al-Qamishli: I was a school student, every time I went to school I felt fear, so I quit temporarily to defend my land and country, to protect my friends from the fear that I felt and to help people live in safety and security. I sacrificed my future to help build other's (02:45).

نالين (19 سنة) من قرى ريف القامشلي تقول: "كنت طالبة، وكنت اذهب دائما الى مدرستي والخوف ينتابني لذلك تركت المدرسة مؤقتا كي ادافع عن ارضي ووطني وازيل الخوف عن صديقاتي الاخريات ولكي ينعم الناس جميعا بالامان". وتضيف: "ضحيت بمستقبلي كي أبني مستقبل غيري".

(01:25) Zaline, a 21-year-old fighter: We carried our weapons and went to the front to fight ISIS, our enemy. They fear our weapons and are shocked by our strength. Life here is not ordinary, you do not find the lies, the betrayal and the hypocrisy you find in a normal life. Here you find true friendship. We want everyone to know that a woman is not different to a man when it comes to defending her country. We ask women all over the world not to underestimate themselves and believe that they are able to accomplish anything (02:00).

زالين (21 سنة) المقاتلة تقول: "حملنا السلاح لنقاتل في جبهة واحدة، يدا بيد. العدو المتمثل بتنظيم "داعش" وغيره (من المجموعات) يخشى سلاحنا وقد تفاجأ بقوتنا. الحياة هنا تختلف عن الحياة العادية، فهنا لا يوجد كذب أو نفاق أو خيانة. هنا، تفتدي (كل مقاتلة) الأخريات بروحها، والصداقة موجودة بأسمى صورها ومعانيها. نريد ان يقتنع الجميع بأن المرأة لا تقل عن الرجل في ما يخص الدفاع عن الوطن، كما نطالب نساء العالم جميعا بألا يقللن من شأن أنفسهن، وأن يقتنعن بأن المراة باستطاعتها فعل أي شيء".