Tags / Northeastern Syria
March 10, 2015
An American and a German fighter have joined the ranks of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (known by the Kurdish acronym YPG) to fight against ISIS. They are positioned outside the majority-Kurdish city of Serekaniye in northeast Syria, known in Arabic as Ras al-Ain, waiting for the next battle to erupt.
The American fighter, who was interviewed and introduced himself as Richard Jones, plans to return to the United States once ISIS is defeated. On the other hand, the German fighter, who goes by the name of Hans Schneider, says he is willing to stay in Rojava – the Syrian part of self-proclaimed Kurdish homeland – after ISIS is pushed out in order to help the Kurds build the country they have long fought to establish.
SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT
Traveling of German fighter identified as Zagros walking with Kurdish fighter
Various of female Kurdish fighters
Various of US fighter Richard Jones and two German fighters identified as Hans Shneider and Zagros
Various of a group of Kurdish fighters
Various of German fighter Hans Shneider walking
Various of US fighter Richard Jones and two German fighters identified as Hans Shneider and Kurdish female fighters
SOUNDBITE (English, Man) Richard Jones, American YPG Fighter
02:49 – 05:48
“Right now we are heading back to the town that we came from. So hopefully everything will go smoothly and it will be safe to ride back. “Right now we’re at one of the bases at the front. We’re at a vantage point on a hill where we can see the villages that Daesh controls. The villages here and here are known areas where Daesh resides. They control these areas. The ground in between, here and there, is contested. Anyone who tries to go into these areas or engage in fighting… hopefully then we can push forward and capture these towns and push ISIS back, eventually pushing all the way to reach Kobani. “I think it is likely. Obviously Daesh wants to do something to show that they are still powerful after losing such a big town as Kobani where all the world was watching. So I do expect Daesh to choose another major area to push in and to attack, to try to show that they still exist and they can still defeat the Kurds. However, I do not fear that Daesh will have a great success here. And I know that the YPG and the YPJ can defend their land. “Interviewer: So, you are ready to defend this area if they start a new attack on Jazeera [area in northeast Syria]?” “Absolutely. If they want to come, I’m ready to fight. “I do. I hope that the international community will see that the Kurds are not just fighting for the place where they live, they are fighting a terrorist organization that goes against the entire world. The fact that they’re here in Rojava does not mean that tomorrow they will not be in another country. We see the attacks in France; we see the attacks all around the world. And we know that ISIS hates these people. They hate everyone that’s not themselves. I do think that the world is obligated to come to assist. Not just for the Kurds to have Rojava, but also so that this terror organization could be defeated. “My name is Richard Jones. I’m from America. I’m here in Rojava to help the Kurdish people fight against ISIS – against Daesh. I’ve been to the front several times and I hope to be able to continue going to the front and fight against Daesh. So far there’s not been much fighting at the front areas. Both sides have been waiting for the other side to make a move. But I do know that soon the fighting will increase and there will be much more action at the frontlines. Interviewer: Are you ready to stay here for a long time?
Absolutely. I’m here to fight against Daesh and I want to stay here as long as Daesh exists. When Daesh is done, when ISIS is finished, then I can go back to America.”
SOUNDBITE (English, Man) Hans Schneider, German YPG Fighter
05:50 - 08:32
“I will not tell you my real name. People call me Hans Schneider; Kurds call me Agit. I came here to help the Kurds in their fight against the terrorists in Rojava.
Interview: How long can you stay here?
I can stay as long as I want. I’m young; I’m healthy. I don’t have a home to go back to, so I can stay as long as I need.
Interviewer: Why are you here exactly?
Exactly, I’m here to help the Kurds in their fight against the terrorists and of course to help them fight for their freedom because the Kurds deserve their own country. They have been fighting for a long time and it will go on for a long time, I believe. Yes, I’m here to help them.
Interviewer: The guns that you have with you in the YPG are they enough for you to fight ISIS or do you need more?
When ISIS is out of Rojava, the Kurds will work more on their infrastructure and with things like that I can help them too, of course. To build up their military or build their infrastructure; their logistical system and transport – everything.
Interviewer: Do YPG fighters have enough weapons to fight ISIS or do they need more help from outside?
Yes, they could… It would be better if they could get more help from the outside, like training, equipment, weapons, heavy weapons, equipment like bulletproof vests, every kind of protection, weapons, ammunition, artillery, heavy weapons, everything.
Interviewer: OK, thank you.
And of course, of course… humanitarian help like food and shelter for the poor people and maybe education. You can help the Kurds in every way. Every kind of help is good.
Other countries [should] stand up and start to help the Kurds gain their freedom so that they can improve and build their own country and territory.”
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.”
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.