Tags / Hassaka
Alia, Hassaka, Syria
May 12, 2015
A 45-year-old French fighter who introduced himself as ‘Roj William’ is fighting alongside the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the YPG.
The single man from Paris says that he joined these forces three months ago because so many French fighters are fighting with ‘Daesh’, citing the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “I don’t think it’s representative of who we are as French people,” the French fighter added.
The body of Ashley Johnson, an Australian fighter in the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG), was taken from Syria to Turkey at the Derik border crossing. Johnson, who joined the YPG six months ago, was killed on 25 February when the Kurdish militia retook the strategic town of Tal Hamis in northeast Syria from ISIS.
This video shows the procession in which Johnson’s body was taken from Syria to Turkey. It also shows the body of former British Royal Marine and Peshmerga fighter, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, who died on March 4, being taken from a hospital in the Kurdish city of Derik to Iraqi Kurdistan through the Simalka border crossing. Scurfiled was also killed in the battle to retake Tal Hamis.
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.
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
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.”
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
Telbrak, Rojava, Syria
This video depicts the March 3 liberation of the village of Telbrak, a part of Hasakah province in northeastern Syria, 45km south of Qamishli, a strategic point in the war between ISIS and Kurdish forces. The latter included the Women's Protection Units, People's Protection Units, the al-Sanadeed forces, who are descendants of the tribes of Al-Shummar, and the al-Mondaweya tribe, which fights under the umbrella of the Kurdish forces. The international coalition also took part.
Telbrak and its rural areas had been under the control of al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate. According to the contributor of this video, Syrian regime forces declared they had in fact liberated the area and were occupying the village. However, the heavy presence of Kurdish forces and Kurdish delegations proves the contrary, according to the contributor.
Shots of the destruction caused by fighting between Kurdish forces and ISIS; ISIS writings and mottos; shots of the city streets; shots of the Kurdish forces in the city, in addition to Kurdish military vehicles and flags.
An interview with Doctor Nasser Haj Mansour, the responsible of Kurdish forces affairs: (Man, Arabic)
This visit is for many reasons, one of the most important reasons is to visit the People's Protection Units and al-Sanadeed forces, to encourage them after their successful operation in Telhamis, and liberating Telbrak, and to check on people around here. And to deny what have been said about violations and killings in the area, the committee includes officials from the self-directory, most of them are in the level of ministers and committee officials, we are here and we did not see any violations, not in the villages nor in the center of Telbrak.
Interviewer: What is the total area that you have liberated?
I cannot determine a certain number of the size of the liberated area, but i can tell you that from the line of Telbrak, until Jazaa, and the Iraqi-Iranian borders is free of ISIS members. Now the battles are in the south of Telbrak and Telhamis going towards the southern rural side of this area.
Interview with Akram Mahshoush, leader of Kurdish delegation: (Man, Arabic)
The operation taken by the People's Protection Units YPG, Women's Protection Units (YPJ) , and al-Sanadeed forces to clean the area of Tebrak located between al-Hasakah and Qamishli from ISIS members who killed people and destroyed areas, confiscated people's farms, and forced them to pay Zaka.
We came to see what happened, and to say to the people who are claiming that People's Protection Units have come to invade the area, we tell them, we did not come to invade the area. People's Protection Units worked on liberating the area because it is a part of Syria and we are all Syrians, and what we want is for life to return to this area.
Interview with Hussein al-Khattab, an Arab member of Kurdish forces: (Man, Arabic)
We came here to retrieve Telhamis, we went through many villages and reached Telbrak, we liberated the areas and thank God none of our men died.
Interview with a female Kurdish field leader, Narkaz Botan, (Woman, Kurdish)
“We began the liberation operation of Telhamis and Telbrak, and we liberated the two towns and many villages and compounds. We have strong willpower, and our fighters were persistent in finishing off ISIS and kicking them out of the area. So the people of our area – Arabs, Kurds, Syriacs and Assyrians – can live peacefully. Our raid was huge and successful. We killed many ISIS members and the area in general has come under our control. The raid will continue until we clean the entire Jazira area of them."
Interview with a Kurdish female fighter, Jinda Kamishlo: (Woman, Kurdish)
“We are very happy to have liberated Telbrak and Telhamis from the cruelty of ISIS, who were raping and lashing women. The liberation process was successful. We are now in March; Women's Day is approaching and this holiday, the women of the two towns will be free, safe and away from ISIS. We will celebrate Women's Day in Telbrak, the single biggest blow against ISIS ideology, which considers women to be objects that are bought and sold. People in this area and in Kurdistan and Rojava are happy with this victory. And we ask God to give us more power to be able to eliminate ISIS from Rojava and Syria. We are happy, and I do not know how to describe it. Victory is ours and is dedicated to our people, and our great leader Ocalan, who is considered the leader of the revolution of Kurdish women and led us to this level, thanks to his ideology and instructions.”
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.
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
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
“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
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
February 5, 2015
After fleeing ISIS in northeastern Syria, a Syrian christian family has found refuge in a predominantly christian town in Lebanon. Despite feeling welcome in the town they have settled in, poverty and hopelessness remain. As a return to Syria seems impossible, Sonia, her mother Doros, and her pregnant sister-in-law Rita hope to emigrate to Australia with help of the United Nations.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman), Sonia Ishaya, Syrian Christian Refugee in Lebanon
00:00 – 03:15
We arrived here in September – September 1 – we have relatives here who come from Hassaka. My cousin and my niece rented this house for us. The United Nations have helped us. My father, mother and I were given a Visa card from the United Nations [we also receive aid from] churches. The UN gave a visa a card for the three of us only.
My brother works. Life is expensive. We can barely cover the rent. Only my brother works. I am handicapped, and my father and mother are old. My nephews are very young.
I had a psychological illness due to fear. I saw a psychiatrist and received treatment and medication in order to be able to talk and move around. Fear controlled to a large extent. Bombing hit our neighbourhood. The day ISIS went in, we left the area.
There was fear of everything. There nothing specific that I could relate my fear to. I was scared of everything. I was not scared of ISIS, I was terrorised.
The situation is difficult. I cannot handle the sight of blood or the sound of bullets. I have a complex of that.
If the situation remained as is, you will not find any more Christians. You will not find Christians in this region, especially if ISIS took control in this area. About three quarters of the [Christians] in Hassaka have left.
Here the situation is normal. We go to church and we can pray, however, one is called a refugee. One feels that he is not in his country.
We had a comfortable life and were happy in our country. We had jobs. What can I say?
Interviewer: Have you lost hope?
- Honestly, yes.
I always pray and ask God to give restore peace to Syria and all countries, and that children live happily again and families reunite. I wish that God does not deprive anyone of their country or family. Recently, my father was sick but we could not take him to the hospital because we cannot afford it. He was dying between our hands but we could not take him to the hospital. We could not even get the doctor.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman), Doros Khoshaba, Syrian Christian Refugee in Lebanon
03:16 – 05:40
“We had a house that we left. My daughter’s cousins and my granddaughter each gave us something for the house. But there is not any aid or money. We do not have anyone to help us. Thank God for your and our safety. I fled and I did not want to take anything with me. We were able to take these children. Artillery shells were falling on our house. We stayed for a week hiding in the bathroom. Shells were falling from every direction. I will not return. My son will not return either because all of the things that we have seen. I do not care about our house or belongings. There was not any water or bread and we were not able to leave the house.
If I can work and receive aid from churches I will not return. This is our country. We have seen Christians and churches. The situation here is different. Back there, my daughter was threatened twice. Two fighters killed a man in front of my house and dragged him. I was coming out and I saw him being shot in the head.
I want to go to Australia. We have applied to UN. If we are accepted we will go. If not, we will stay here. I would rather work at people’s homes than return. I am an old woman, but I am willing to work instead of returning. My eyes have seen so much.
Due to our fear, we forgot our prayers and ourselves. We saw terrorists… we were not able to know anything. We forgot everything, as if we were hit on the head.
May the Virgin Mary protect us and everyone else, not only us – all the people who fled Syria and came here. Virgin Mary, protect us and give us our daily bread and mercy. That is all I can say.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman), Rita Garabetian, Syrian Christian Refugee in Lebanon 05:41 –
The situation than it used to be in Syria. We are not scared like we used to be in Syria. However, we feel forlorn. People have received so well and no one has harmed us, but we feel like strangers. What bothers me the most is that my children do not go to school. I see other children going to school while my children stay at home. My husband is working, but we can barely cover our expenses, but we thank God.
Since I cannot enrol my children at school, the thing I can think of is traveling. This is our only ambition. Most people have come here to travel.
I am pregnant and I will give birth next month. I worry about the hospital bill, the cost of medications. I have a hundred things to worry about.
Honestly, we have not lived with the Lebanese before. In this area, Sid al-Boushriya, all the people are Assyrians from Hasaka. We have lived with any Lebanese. Yesterday, Lebanese people visited us. They were very decent and kind.
I do not think there any who live in tents. I am talking about the Christians of Hasaka. They are used to a different way of living. It is impossible for them to live in tents.
Hope of what?
Interviewer: To return.
To Syria, it is impossible. It is impossible to have peace in Syria before 10 or 15 years. There has not been an Arab country that was destroyed and then restored.
Christians remained in Lebanon because they were among each other. In Syria, ISIS meddled in the middle.
We saw what ISIS has done in Mossul, Iraq. What they did to the Christians and Yezidis. How many Christians are there in Hasaka? Their numbers are quite high, but ISIS could kill of them in a matter of a few days. There were about 20 Assyrian villages in which nobody remained. In each village, maybe one or two families remained. These villages were full; they had about 150 or 200 Christian families each. Now they are gone. They were all displaced. They went to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. They were displaced. They left their belongings, d houses and land. They had very good financial situation. They left everything and went away, out fear that their children would be killed. ISIS has no religion.
We were scared that what happened to them would happen to us.
-Who is ‘them’? - The Christians in Mossul. It was a disaster.
My cross… I do not walk without it. It protects me, even though it is small.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Boy), Unnamed, Rita Garabetian’s Son
I want to go to school. I want to stay here because I have friends, with whom I play. I have do not have anyone in Syria.
Because they were displaced and came here.
Interviewer: What is your dream?
I want to grow up and stay in Australia, and that the people of my country live in peace. Whenever I can, I would return to Syria.
Schools in Syria closed and there was war. I was scared of bombings and gunshots. I was scared of ISIS. ISIS displaced us.
Interviewer: Did you see or hear them?
- I used to hear and see them.
Interviewer: What did you see?
- I saw shells falling. I also heard continuous gunshots. Bombs would fall and make a sound, boom!
I wish that Jesus Christ protects Syria and its people, as well as all the countries; to protect every Christian and anyone else; and to protect all people in refugee camps.
Lebanon is very beautiful.
Interviewer: More beautiful than Syria?
- No Syria is more beautiful.
- Interviewer: Why?
- I was living happily in Syria. I am happy in Lebanon because I saw my friends. I love to go to school.
-Interviewer: Why? - I want to learn and play with my friends. -Interviewer: What do you want to do when you grow up? -I want to be a doctor.
February 1, 2015
Dozens of Kurdish fighters killed in various battles were buried during a large ceremony at the Martyr Khelil Sarukhan cemetery in the city of Hasaka, northeast Syria.
There have been heavy battles between ISIS and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) for several months, mostly centered in the city of Kobane. Unprecedented clashes also erupted on January 17 between the YPG and Syrian regime forces outside the city of Hasaka, killing more than 20 Kurdish fighters and civilians were killed in this fighting.
Hasaka is part of the autonomous region in Syria proclaimed in by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the umbrella group with which the YPG is affiliated.
The PYD has been previously accused by members of Syrian opposition of collaborating with the Syrian regime.
This video shows the burial ceremony, during which families of killed fighters appear gathering, holding YPG flags and reading verses from the Quran. Video also includes interviews with a female Kurdish political militant and the wives of two fighters killed in battles with ISIS.
SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT
Various of Asayesh (Kurdish security force) members
Various of women weeping next to graves
Medium of boys watering plant on a grave
Wide of fighter talking to woman in the graveyard
Various of woman crying next to fighter’s grave
Wide of male and female fighters standing next to a grave
Wide of people at cemetery entrance
Various of children holding YPG flag in the cemetery
Wide of people at cemetery entrance
Various of mourners near the grave of Asayish member
Wide of graves
Wide of women sitting near a grave
Medium of woman reading Quran
Wide of a dug grave
Wide of people at cemetery entrance
Wide of female militants searching a woman at the entrance of cemetery
Various of cemetery entrance
Wide of convoy
Various of procession to carry bodies of fighters to the cemetery
Wide of coffin
Various of female fighters preparing for ceremony
Wide of people gathered at the entrance of cemetery
Wide of Nawal Kelo, Kurdish Political Militant
SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Woman), Nawal Kelo, Kurdish Political Militant
04:49 - 07:06
“About the latest events in Rojava [Syrian part of Kurdistan], the Syrian regime was not convinced that the YPG was an umbrella for all the free people in Rojava and Syria, without consideration of religion or race. The regime did not acknowledge that the YPG will win against ISIS, which the regime has created, especially in Kobane.
“The regime tried to relieve ISIS from pressure in Hasaka, thinking that it could have full control over the events. The regime wanted to destroy everyone and then destroy the YPG, but it was faced with strong fighting form the side of the YPG, which has also been strong in the face of ISIS.
Many died from the regime’s side, also about 20 Kurdish civilians and fighters died. The YPG will protect the area and all of Syria, and it will not disappoint the public. ISIS is the creation of the Syrian regime and its former friend [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan. At the end, they will taste their own medicine and they will be forced to acknowledge the power of the Kurdish people and its free will, which are above all other laws.”
“The resistance and victory in Kobane proved to the world the free will of the Kurdish people as well as the rest of the Syrian population. We will lead ourselves. We have institutions lead by the Kurdish administration; we have councils and military forces. We will resist until the last drop of blood. Our people have free will and are bonded to their land. Those who do not have free will or a higher aim are ISIS and the Syrian regime.”
Various of Zouzan, Female Asayish Member whose husband was killed in a battle with ISIS
SOUNDBITE (Kurdish, Woman) Zouzan, Female Asayish Member whose husband was killed in a battle with ISIS
07:18 – 08:28
“I am a member of the Asayish, the Kurdish security forces, and the wife of martyr Hoker. I carried my husband's weapon after he died and swore to continue his fight until we clean Rojava from ISIS and the regime. I have children, and I insist to avenge my husband and defend my country and my land, we will fight until the last drop of blood.” “I do not know why everyone is against us, Kurds. They want to take our women, kill our children, evict us, murder us. We are Kurds and Muslims. What do they want from us? With the blood of our martyrs we will destroy the terrorists, and live safely and freely.”
Medium of Zouzan, Female Asayish Member whose husband was killed in a battle with ISIS
Various of Salma Muhammad, the widow of a fighter killed during a battles with ISIS
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Salma Muhammad, the widow of a fighter was killed by ISIS
08:49 – 09:50
“What is happening is not in ISIS’ interest. If ISIS goes a step or two in the direction of Rojava, especially Qamishli, the young and adults will carry weapons. We will not leave them. We will resist in the west of Kurdistan. The regime should recall what the sacrifices and martyrs offered by the Kurds to revive Syria. Now, we want Syrian to be a democratic nation. We are not demanding independence. Why are these martyrs falling? Each martyr… we send a thousand salutes to the leader Abdullah Ocalan – salutes that bear the scent of martyrs’ blood. ‘Apo’ should know that we are sacrificing to have democracy according to his great ideas. We do not accept any other form of democracy.”
Cutaway – medium of Salma Muhammad
Various of burial
Wide of group carrying flags