BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
“Our morale is very high and we are convinced we will expel [Islamic State fighters] from Kobani,” a Kurdish Peshmerga commander told Agence France-Presse Nov. 4. One hundred fifty Pershmerga combatants with heavy artillery from Iraqi Kurdistan arrived several days earlier in the besieged Syrian town along the Turkish border, joining Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that have held off a major offensive by a far bigger and better armed Islamic State for more than 50 days.
The unfolding battle for Kobani illustrates the growing unity and confidence of the oppressed Kurdish people, separated for decades by the borders of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. Their military formations, which have increasingly worked together, are the only effective force in the war against Islamic State. Their resistance has given a boost to the Kurdish national struggle, as well as inspired working people and women throughout the region and beyond.
Meanwhile, the U.S. big-business media, which for weeks ran daily stories about Kobani’s imminent fall, has become more subdued in its coverage of the war in relation to the Kurds, particularly the role in Syria of the YPG, which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey. The PKK, which is on Washington’s list of terrorist organizations, fought a three-decade war for rights and autonomy against the Turkish government, a U.S. ally, until a cease-fire in 2013.
When the battle of Kobani began in mid-September, the Turkish government stationed tanks and troops along its border with the town to block Kurdish fighters and supplies from getting to Kobani, which was surrounded on all other sides by Islamic State. When the town didn’t fall after weeks of siege, Washington and Ankara allowed some minimal aid to get through. In addition to conducting airstrikes in the area, Washington carried out a one-time airdrop over Kobani of light weapons, ammunition and medical supplies from Iraqi Kurdistan Oct. 19. The Turkish government eventually allowed some 150 Peshmerga fighters to travel through Turkey to join the battle.
On Nov. 1, a few days after Peshmerga forces began entering Kobani, rallies took place in hundreds of cities worldwide in solidarity with the Kurds’ fight to prevent Kobani from falling. Pro-Kurdish demonstrations in Turkey included an action of 20,000 in Diyarbakir; a protest in Istanbul; a rally of about 5,000 in the town of Tatvan in Bitlis province, with demonstrators shouting support for the YPG and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan; a march in Antep with chants condemning recent deaths of miners and other workers on the job; and actions in Van, Tekman, Varto, Mus and Malazgirt, reported kurdishquestion.com.
About 10,000 marched in Cologne, Germany. Solidarity actions took place in six cities in India and seven provinces of Afghanistan, where marchers “carried photos of the people of Kobane and YPJ women fighters” and demanded NATO forces leave the country, reported Kurdish news agency Firatnews.
Turkish Kurds welcome Peshmerga
The Peshmerga reinforcements received a warm welcome as they traveled through Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast. “Villagers set bonfires, let off fireworks and chanted by the side of the road as the convoy passed,” reported Reuters. Thousands rallied in support in the town of Suruc on the Turkish border by Kobani.
“All the Kurds are together. We want them to go and fight in Kobani and liberate it,” Issa Ahamd, an 18-year-old high school student, told Reuters. He is one of 200,000 Syrian Kurds who took refuge in Turkey since the Islamic State assault.
Some 50 members of the Free Syrian Army entered Kobani Oct. 29 to join YPG and a smaller number of FSA members already there to help defend the city. The FSA is a military coalition that came together following the Syrian government’s bloody crackdown on popular protests against the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship in 2011. The FSA was decimated in the civil war by pro-government forces and rival Islamist groups.
“The resistance shown by us, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and the factions of the Free Syrian Army is a guarantee for defeating ISIS’s terrorism in the region,” said an Oct. 19 statement issued by the YPG General Command. “The result of this battle will shape the future of Syria and the democratic struggle for freedom and peace.”
According to the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, the 150 Peshmerga were sent to Kobani to deliver heavy weaponry, but not take part in combat. But at a news conference in Kobani Nov. 1 YPG and Peshmerga leaders stressed the need to forge a “national army.”
“None of the parts of Kurdistan is different to us,” Liwa Ebdulqahir, general commander of the Peshmerga force in Kobani, told Firatnews. “Today it is our enemies that brought us together. We are ready to do whatever we can. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for Kobani. We, the Kurdish people are in unity and will remain in unity.”
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