As the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces were celebrating rapid gains against the Islamic State (IS) in the strategically important border town of Tel Abyad and then Ayn Issa, just 50 km from the self-declared IS capital of Raqqa, IS committed one of their worst massacres to date in Kobane.
Disguised as YPG and Free Syrian Army forces, IS units managed to infiltrate the town initiating a number of deadly suicide attacks and then brutally killing at least 146 civilians in a vicious house-to-house hunt. IS fighters managed to occupy a number of buildings and approximately 50 civilians are still held as hostages.
IS intention was never to occupy the town but send out a stark reminder after its recent losses of the damage that it could inflict at a moment’s notice. For the war-ravaged town of Kobane, any sense of normality may never return.
Kobane is a symbol of the Kurdish resistance against IS and one of the few success stories of the US-led coalition that provided pivotal air support and was finally liberated in January after 4 months of intense fighting.
YPG have proved one of the most capable fighting forces against IS but yet find themselves in the tough position where the US has hesitated to directly arm and support and who Turkey merely label as terrorists.
And it is this “terrorist” tag that is becoming an outdated and unfair noose on the Syrian Kurdish population. Turkey has insisted many times that for them both PKK affiliated YPG and IS are the same.
How can the actions of the YPG, which has been instrumental in driving back IS, ever be compared with the mass slaughter of innocent civilians?
More importantly, demarcating a group as terrorists is one thing but a population is another. The Syrian Kurds deserve the support of Turkey and the West. They deserve the right to defend their own lands from massacres such as that in Kobane.
Turkey, other regional powers and US have supported so-called moderate groups within the FSA for years, with US providing arms and training even when the notion of moderates in rebel ranks was as grey or non-existent as ever.
Jaish al-Fatah or the Army of Conquest, the new powerful alliance supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which has made rapid gains in Idlib province in recent months, is augmented by a loose alliance with al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra. It is all the more ironic that with the immense brutality of the Syrian war, that definition of moderates and Jihadists has become a relative term.
Yet the Syrian Kurdish gains in recent weeks were quickly met with allegations of ethnic cleansing and land-grabbing to create a new Kurdish state. Syrian Kurdish priority is defense of their lands and people than the lofty dreams of a new state that is been propagated to paint the Syrian Kurdish forces as separatists who are only keen on pursuing their own interests.
There can be no great boost to the Kurdish peace process in Turkey than more Turkish support of the Syrian Kurds. The Kurds form a large part of the Turkish state and support of their brethren across the border can only enhance trust and unity in Turkey.
Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani strongly denounced the attacks on Kobane and urged the US-led coalition to provide greater support to YPG fighters against IS. Barzani stated willingness of the Kurdistan Region to support and aid the Kurds in Kobane and Rojava.
No regional power can stay idle to a human massacre on their door step and international powers must do more to allow the people to defend themselves.
As the recent chilling terrorist attacks in Tunisia on holiday makers, a bomb blast at a Shite –affiliated mosque in Kuwait and an explosion in a chemical factor in France have shown, the battle is far from one confided to Syria and Iraq.
The massacres such that in Kobane are not in a remote far away land, it could easily be on your doorstep.
First Published: Kurdish Globe
Other Publication Sources: Various Misc