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Texan Explains Motives for Joining Ku...
Tal Tamer
By TTM Contributor 33
09 Mar 2015

Tal Tamer, Syria
March 7, 2015

George, who declined to give his last name but prefers to go by Fat Jack, sold his possessions in San Antonio, Texas and bought a plane ticket to join Kurdish forces battling ISIS in the Hasaka province of Syria, a strategic village near the Iraqi-Syrian border whose Christian, Kurdish, Assyrian and Arab inhabitants had mostly fled. Perturbed that "no one was doing nothing" to stop the spread of the militant group and curious to know "how a normal person would come to fight evil", he joined the YPG.

Though Fat Jack admits there are sizable military and cultural differences between Americans and Kurds, and that the language barrier has been substantial, he also says that he decided to join the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) because they were "good" people whom "he could trust."

SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT

Wide of town and YPG flag
Various of female and male Kurdish fighters near Humvee
Traveling of YPG vehicle passing a checkpoint
Wide of female and male Kurdish fighters
Wide of town and fields. NAT Sound: Gunshots
Wide of ‘Fat Jack’
Various of town and fields
Wide, R-L pan of ‘Fat Jack’ driving off in a pickup truck with YPG flag
Wide of fighter going into armored personnel carrier with YPG flag
Wide of tank with YPG flag
Wide of ‘Fat Jack’ getting into a pickup truck with YPG flag
Wide of fighters near YPG vehicles
Wide of ‘Fat Jack’ parking pickup truck
Wide of tank with YPG flag. NAT Sound: Gunshots
Wide of ‘Fat Jack’ stepping out of a pickup truck with YPG flag, talking to Kurdish fighter

SOUNDBITE (English, Man) ‘Fat Jack’ American volunteer with the YPG
03:42 - 07:41

  • Your name and where you are from.

  • I go by Fat Jack, my American nickname. I’m from San Antonio, Texas.

  • Why did you decide to come here?

  • The only way I know how to fight Daesh [ISIS] with people I could trust.

  • How did you see the situation here in Rojava [Syrian part of Kurdistan] during the clashes?

  • Originally since I’ve been here? I heard about Daesh in the media for a long time. Nobody was doing nothing. On the internet, I found out about the YPG. I started doing my homework. That’s how I got... I sold my stuff, bought a plane ticket and came on.

  • Can you talk about the situation more? About Rojava, the people here? The clashes?

  • Well there’s the culture difference that’s kind of a… wow! But the people are good people. The language barrier has been a bit of a problem. The people here, you know, they’re nice people. That’s the reason I came with the YPG. I trust them; they’re Kurdish, their reputation… so that’s how I came here just to… simply to fight Daesh.

  • And how did you decide to participate [with] the YPG against Daesh?

  • I guess I’ve seen a story of an American that came over. That night I was like… wow! You’ve got lunatics from all over the world that come to join Daesh, and you always wonder how these lunatics from all over the world come together. Much less find one more, but how do you find thousands? And then I was wondering how would a normal person come to fight evil? About three days later, that’s when I found the story about an American that came over. That’s how I ended up here.

  • Your last message to the world – if you want to send a message to the world or say anything.

  • Daesh has to be stopped. I mean, no matter where you are; what country or religion; your politics, murder and rape is evil. I mean in Daesh they murder… they rape and murder… they murder children and they would be speaking God’s name in their mouth while they murder. And just…

  • Can you please describe the clashes now in Tal Tamer?

  • From my point of view, it’s different. Our militaries are different. It’s just different. I don't know how to....”

Various of Kurdish fighters and military vehicles

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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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Together in Kobane: Former Refugee Re...
Kobane
By Bedir
10 Feb 2015

Kobani, Syria
February 10, 2015

After leaving her hometown of Kobani and living in Turkey for several months, Siddiqa Barkal was happily reunited with her husband and two sons who remained in the city to fight against ISIS. Siddiqa’s three daughters and her youngest son were also rejoiced to return with her.
Siddiqa’s husband, Ismat Sheikh Hassan, is the head of the Defense Committee in the Kobani Canton, part of the autonomous district proclaimed by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, known by the Kurdish acronym PYD. He was widely quoted by Western media during the battle for Kobani.
Siddiqa says that she was very sad to leave her hometown and live in exile, despite the warm welcome she received in Turkey. She took the risk of returning to Kobani even before ISIS fighters were defeated because her young children could not bear living outside their city.
In Kobani, Siddiqa stood by her husband, sons and other fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) during the battles and made them food until they won over the battle against ISIS.

SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT

Various of family in living room

SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Woman) Siddiqa Barkal, Refugee Who Returned to Kobani

01:01 - 09:45

“We left when ISIS attacked Kobani on [September] 20. We did not leave willingly. We wanted to stay in Kobani and live with the comrades and fighters. We wanted to be martyred with them. Seven days after I left Kobani with my children, they convinced me of returning. We returned but could not enter. My children and I stayed in Suruc. They did not tolerate to live outside Kobani. They kept saying that they wanted to return. I had three girls and a young boy with me. Even though my children could not live outside of Kobani, the situation there did not allow us to return. The father of my children and two of my children were fighting in the city. The rest of my children and I were very worried about them. My young son Hamza used to cry and say, ‘I cannot stand living outside Kobani because my friends are not here. I feel lonely when I am outside my city.’ In Suruc, my children and I were living in a house. My children never left the house during the day. On certain days, they used to sleep during the day and stay up at night watching television. On the 25th of the month, my older daughter went to Kobani. She called me, saying, ‘I cannot take it anymore. My father and two brothers are in Kobani and I need to go and see them. I want to stay in my city, Kobani.’
“I had many friends and acquaintances in northern Turkey who offered to let me live in their homes. I went near to Kobani on several occasions. My young son and I cried as smoke was rising from the buildings. The sound of explosions and gunshots was heard. Warplanes were bombing and the city was being destroyed. We were very worried about our friends who were fighting to defend the city. One day, I decided to return to Kobani while ISIS mercenaries were still there. I called my daughter then to tell her that we were coming and she told her father. My husband called me, saying: ‘Why did you not tell us that you were coming?’ I returned to Kobani and he was very happy. Some were worried that my children would be affected by the scenes of killing and destruction. There were also worried that ISIS was still there. “I used to make dinner for the fighters on the front and help them. We never thought that ISIS could have control over us. Many people used to ask me whether Kobani will fall or not. I used to say to them that Kobani will never fall and that it shall be victorious. 'We will fight until the last drop of our blood and the last stone in the city.’ I kept saying this to the women and mothers. The ideas of leader Abdullah Ocalan were behind the victory. Male and female fighters are fighting by relying on their own capabilities and conviction. They were not pushed by anyone; they were not forced to do this. They are fighting with their hearts, which is why they will achieve victory. For example, when you make a child carry something, he will carry it but he might fail. If he carries it with his own will and strength, he will succeed. The young men and women came from all parts of Kurdistan. We consider the member of the People’s Protection Units and the Women’s Protection Units our sons and daughters and parts of our bodies. They are sacrificing their lives for their land, which is why we will achieve victory. “I cannot describe the way I felt when we returned to Kobani. We felt so much joy. My little son Hamza was thrilled because he returned to his friends. I asked my son on our way back, ‘Who do you want to see first, your brothers or your father?’ He said: ‘I want to return to my friends.’ Friendship is more important for him. When I was in Kobani, I was very happy to see the comrade fighters. I did not believe that I was actually with them, and that I was embraced by Kobani. When the comrade fighters liberated Kobani from ISIS mercenaries, I was trembling. I was so happy that I did not understand what was happening. I asked a woman near me: ‘Am I in Kobani? Has it been liberated?’ “I cannot describe the joy I felt. When I left Kobani, I felt as if one of my sons or the father of my children was martyred. We all cried when we left. Even my young son went to the comrades and held their hands, saying: ‘I want to stay in Kobani and be martyred.’ When I left Kobani, I was told that I would return in seven days. My son was fighting on the eastern front, where battles were the fiercest. I did not tell anyone that I was leaving. When my son heard about it he said: ‘Mother, why are you leaving?’ I told him that I was not leaving willingly, and that I was leaving because the comrades wanted me to. When I left, I did not bid my sons farewell. It was a very painful moment. I cannot forget that moment. The moment I crossed the border was very painful. I cannot describe it. “Now that Kobani has been liberated, people will return to the city in the next few weeks. Those whose houses were destroyed will rebuild their houses. We have to help each other, take care of ourselves and return to our previous lives. We will live a happy life. Rojava [Syrian part of Kurdistan] will be fully liberated from ISIS mercenaries, especially that they were defeated in Kobani. The People’s Protection Units and the Women’s Protection Units have pledged to fight ISIS wherever they were. We, the people, should help the members of these forces who are sacrificing their lives for the homeland.”

Various of family inside the house
Various of young Hamza
Various of family and guests in front of the house

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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.

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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.