Tags / Women's Protection Units (YPJ)
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
A young Syrian Kurd carries a torch during a Nowruz celebration in Qamishli.
A Kurdish girl stands during a minute of silence in remembrance of fallen Kurdish fighters.
Young Kurdish men and women march during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.
Young Kurdish men and women carry torches and Kurdish flags during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.
Young Kurdish women are pictured during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.
Young Kurdish women are pictured during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.
Young Kurdish men march during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.
A Kurdish woman carries a torch during a celebration of the Nowruz in Qamishli.
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.
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.
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.”