Kurdish fighters battle ISIL for Kobani ‘until last drop of blood’
KOBANI, SYRIA // On the front lines of the battle for Kobani, Kurdish female fighters have been playing a major role in helping defend the Syrian town from an onslaught by ISIL.
Pervin Kobani, the 19-year-old daughter of a farmer, is one of them.
She is part of a team holding an eastern front-line position that comes under regular attack from the extremist fighters, who have been trying to seize the town since mid-September.
The ISIL group has declared a self-styled caliphate in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria, governing it according to its violent interpretation of Shariah law.
The Kurdish men and women fighting in Kobani are determined not to lose the town to the extremists.
A report by the Associated Press last month offered a rare, in-depth glimpse of the destruction inside Kobani after more than two months of fighting in the Kurdish town by the Turkish border.
It also illustrated what life is like for fighters like Pervin, who says she does not really have dreams beyond the present.
“We must save our love for Apo, and Kurdistan and our martyrs,” she said, referring to Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, whose group has been fighting Turkey for Kurdish autonomy.
Nearby, one of Pervin’s comrades saw something moving amid the destroyed remains of central Kobani and opened fire.
Pervin left home and took up arms two years ago as the overstretched forces of Syrian president Bashar Assad withdrew from Kurdish areas in northern Syria. She joined the Syrian Kurdish women’s self-defence force, known by its Kurdish acronym YPJ. The female YPJ fighters are now integrated with the men’s units, the YPG.
“I didn’t really have any other ambitions. I just wanted to live a free life, as a woman, [to] be able to see our reality, and have our rights and just live,” she said.
Aided by a small Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga force and Syrian rebels, they have been defending the town since mid-September, helped by more than 280 airstrikes by the US-led coalition.
“We won’t allow the terrorist groups in until the last drop of our blood,” Pervin said.
After half a year serving away from her hometown, she returned to Kobani with Kurdish forces two months ago.
Most fighting happens at night. The fighters can only sleep during the day, with a rotating two-hour sentry watch.
Three weeks ago, Pervin bumped into her father on a street corner.
She was surprised to see him holding a gun. She did not know that he too had decided to fight.
Her mother is a refugee in Turkey, her only brother studying in Algeria.
“Honestly when I heard my father is fighting on the western front with the YPG I was so proud of him, and it made me want to fight more,” she said.
Her father, Farouk Kobani, joined the town’s defenders when ISIL launched their attack in September. He was delighted to see his daughter that day, after months without news about her.
Last week, Pervin went to the western front to see her father again.
She says he is now her comrade – but she hugs him like a father anyway.
* Associated Press
Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM