While the world struggled with how to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), all eyes were on Kobani, where an historic war occurred between the fall of 2014 and early 2015.
For 134 earth-shaking days Kobani paid a heavy price and made history. ANHA reporter Meysa Ekari interviewed witnesses and participants in the war for freedom.
After a siege lasting months, on 15 December 2014 ISIS attacked Kobani from the north, west and south, and a war, which lasted more than four months, began. Kobani was the first city of North and East Syria liberated from the Damascus government in the 19 July 2012 revolution. As a consequence, the small city has significant value. Several groups attacked Kobani after the city was liberated, but the Peoples’ Defence Units (YPG-YPJ) blocked them. When ISIS attacked, tens of YPG-YPJ members set up a wall of resistance. Several villages around Kobani were seized by ISIS but the major war was taking place in the city’s streets. Fighters did not retreat and Kobani became an example of strong will and defiance.
A Ukrainian fighter
ISIS’s gangs were carrying out bloody assaults via tanks, rockets and all kinds of heavy weapons, while Kobani’s citizens resisted with small arms. A witness of that period, Mihemed Xilo, explained his decision to participate in the resistance together with fighters, saying, “We stayed in the city to defend Kobani. We did not accept handing over our city to gangs. We believed in the victory, because our will and faith were strong. We did not leave the city, even when the tanks ran over us and our people were martyred”.
Telling the story of his meeting with his daughter, a member of the Women’s Defence Units (YPJ), at the war front, Xilo said, “She only said ‘Father, do not leave Kobani’, without asking about her family. After four days, I heard that she passed away. That was our last meeting and I also kept my word. We defended our historical legacy and our people. The Kobani resistance united all the Kurds in Kurdistan. Not only the Kurds, but the international fighters who fought against ISIS alongside Kobani. Once I had asked a Ukranian fighter about their reason for coming Kobani. They said, ‘I know Kurds. I know they were oppressed. For that reason I came here to fight against that fascism alongside Kurds and to participate in their fight for freedom'”.
On 26 January 2015, Kobani was liberated after a war lasting 134 days. That date marks the beginning of shifts in Syria and the wider region.
Feeding the fighters
Another witness, Emine Diyar, stayed in the city and cooked for fighters during the war. At the beginning of the war, Emine, together with tens of women, cooked for fighters in Kobani and its villages, though she was fasting. Eladîn Ebdo Hemo is another witness of the Kobani resistance. His family stayed in a village in Kobani to support fighters by cooking. Hemo said he first fought against Al-Nusra, which encircled Kobani in 2012, and then against ISIS in 2014.