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