Tags / Ras al-Ayn
Ras al-Ayn (Serekaniye), Syria
A French fighter, who introduced himself as 'Roj William,' explains in an interview why he joined the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia's fight against ISIS. The interview was conducted in French.
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.”
September 7, 2014
Location: 5 Kilometers west of Ras al-Ain , near al-Azizeya village, Syria
Syrian refugees dodge Turkish Army patrols as they are smuggled from Syria to Turkey. Smuggling has become increasingly difficult as many smugglers are being beaten up or killed by Turkish soldiers. However, there is no other ways to escape Syria, despite the existence of four legal crossings in the area.
- Smuggler as he goes to the border post - shots of “passengers” a term used by the smugglers of refugees and peoples in general - shots of people fleeing after detection by the Turskish border patrol - moving shots of Turkish military vehicle heading to legal border crossing - general views of the border
Interview: Abu Mohamad, Smuggler
"People here want to cross to Turkey. We are in Syria and, as you can see, we have these people who want to get to Turkey. People are dying here, sometimes there is shooting. The road from here is very difficult. On the IS side of the border [Islamic State controlled area], the road is open, but only for Arabs. On the Kurdistan [Syrian-Kurdish controlled] side, the road is blocked by the Kurds.
People here have injured relatives and they are working so hard to be able to afford to eat. Life is very hard here and people are forced to leave. We are trying to smuggle these people into Turkey and it is very hard. A few days ago we smuggled a group of people and they got caught, they started hitting them with the back of the rifle. You cannot pass through legally, so we are trying to smuggle them and people are paying everything they have to pass. What can I tell you, life here is very difficult.
Al-Qamishli passage is closed, Derwaseya passage is closed, Ras al-Ain passage is closed. The other passages in Jarablos and Tel al-Abyad are open, even though they are under the control of ISIS. They closed these passages even though they help our brothers the Kurds.
You just witnessed it, we smuggled people in and they returned them. Every few days you can hear firing and shooting and a few days ago, someone was killed at the border of Turkey. We went today and they started shooting, we go through this on daily basis
This short film shows Ras al-Ayn under mortar fire from mainly Arab rebel groups stationed west of the town. The journalist documented the front line in Ras al-Ayn, numbered with snipers and militants. This front line is just west of the city where the Kurdish YPG militia, who has been fighting against the rebels for months, is positioned.
Also included at the end of the video is an interview with a YPG female commander.
All the shots were taken on 30 August in Ras el Ayn, currently controlled by the Kurdish militia.
0:00-0:13 shot was filmed on the street with the sound of some mortar shells coming in (these were fired by the Free Syrian Army-Jabhat al Nusra-various others Arab rebel groups then positioned west of the town).
0:13-0:22 is the approach to the border gate. Streets in this area are deserted completely, though the eastern part of the city had a fair few people still.
0:22-0:32 is the walk from the border post to the last YPG (Kurdish militia) line which is currently about 50 meters to the west of the gate, running perpendicular to the border.
0:32-0:42 is the border, you can see the fence and everything (here a shot rings out), and this blown-through wall gives way to a little fighting position on a large clearing.
0:42-0:49 is the western wall of a large building overlooking this clearing.
0:50-0:59 is the walk across the clearing to the very last line. 1:00-1:06 is the climb up to the firing position.
Then in 1:07-1:12 a shot rings out, 1:13-1:23 we see the YPG dude aiming his rifle, then 1:23-1:37 we run back across the clearing.
1:38-1:51 we are entering the building overlooking the clearing. This building is full of snipers loking west over the clearing. 1:51-2:01 we see a sniper with an old bolt-action rifle.
2:02-2:06, a dude peeks over the sniper's head to see through his hole.
2:07-2:13, I peek over his head to see through the hole. The camera I think was on full zoom, those houses should about 500-800 meters out, and they are held by the Arab rebels.
2:14-2:32 is another sniper.
2:33-2:42 are two guys looking through a hole pondering tactical possibilities.
2:42-2:50 is spent ammunition cases on the floor.
2:51-2:55 is a tea can along with some other rubbish.
2:56-3:04 is some YPG dudes milling about in a building outside not far from the sniper's building.
3:05-3:25 is an interview with one of the commanders here, a woman, which I think is a nice little touch.
3:26-3:34 is a building in town, in the western part of the city.
3:35-3:45 is in a street close by.
3:46-3:53 is exactly the same place except looking at a different street and some sandbags.
3:54-to the end is just the street with some shots ringing out in the background.
The interview: "The fighting here began about 40 days ago. We are in our positions and we are fighting against these groups [referring to the enemy]. All our people are ready and we are going to clean our land, Rojava [western Kurdistan, that is to say the northeast of Syria], from these groups.
In Serekaniya, or Ras al-Ayn (the Arabic name for the same city, dominated by a Kurdish population) Christians fear for their future.
Basmaa, mother of 4 daughters. "Our house was the front line of the battle between Kurdish rebels and Muslim rebels. Security was far away, but I wanted to stay. This is my house, my street, my country. "
"I had no chance to take something along when we had to leave. And when I came back, everything of value was gone. Except our statue of Mary, thank God." Basma points to the statue on the shelf and makes a cross. In an attempt to suppress her tears Basma turns angry. "I still do not know if I am safe here. While cleaing the house upon our return, I found an unexploded bomb next to the statue of Mary. They are making fun of us, but this is dangerous.
Visitor of the Armenian church.
Visitor of the Armenian church.
The closed doors of the St. George church in Ras al-Ayn, Syria. The priest fled the country when the church became the frontline between Kurdish and Arabic militias. With his origin in the Middle East, St. George’s is still one of the most important saints in the region.
The deserted streets in the Christian neighborhood of Ras al-Ayn, in the northeast of Syria, reflect the fear of the people. This was once a place where Christians went for coffee to Muslims and Kurds had tea with Arabs. Today there is no place for Orthodox Christians to practice their faith. Since the end of January this year, the priest fled the country and left the St. George Church with closed doors. The division among the Arab and Kurdish militias is destabilizing the area and brings chaos into the city. There are also more and more stories of people who have to leave their homes and kidnapping for ransom.
Some Christian families are seeking refuge with the Kurdish militia, and others with the Arabs. "The city is characterized by division," said one resident, "only God knows what future awaits the Syrian Christians."
To see the accompanying article, click here: http://transterramedia.com/media/21616
The Syrian crisis brings despair at all walks of life. Potato Farmers are technically unemployed, since no refined oil is to be found to run their machines. Because they can no longer support their family they see themselves forced to start refining themselves. A dangerous task.