KT Report From Kobani:
Girê Spî (Tel Abyad) has been liberated from Daesh (ISIS) by the YPG. The mainly Kurdish forces made a lightening advance into the town today (Monday) and the surviving jihadists have beat a retreat north into Turkey or south towards Raqaa, their stolen Syrian ‘capital’, 78 km away, reportedly without having time to leave behind as many deadly mines as expected.
This is a strategic defeat for Daesh, which has lost its direct road link from Turkey to Raqaa. It is a huge gain for the citizens of Rojava, especially those of the Kobani canton – suffering from a de facto embargo by Turkey – who now share a border with the Jazeera canton, and have access to the Kurdistan Region (south Kurdistan).
To add to Daesh’s humiliation, Rangin, a senior commander of the YPJ (the autonomous women’s defence units within the YPG), revealed today that five of the seven commanders on the eastern (Kobani) front leading YPG forces towards Girê Spî are women.
This evening thousands of Kobani canton citizens gathered on the outskirts of this apocalyptic city – which was mostly destroyed by last winter’s Daesh seige and the subsequent air strikes – to welcome a contingent of YPG fighters coming from Jazeera to celebrate the opening of a corridor between the two cantons. Hundreds of cars, many peppered with bullet holes, formed a long convoy heading back into the city to the sounds of music, chanting and jubilant gunfire.
Doctor Bahio Shekho was there. He says he is back working at his laboratory but, a few months ago, he carried a Kalashnikov and helped defend Kobani from a ferocious Daesh onslaught involving tanks, artillery and rocket fire, massive truck bombs, and more. Dr Shekho was wounded. He shows me an iphone photo of an xray of shrapnel in his leg, and then one of himself and a young woman in YPJ uniform. “She is dead”, he said.
So many have died, perhaps several thousands, in defending Rojava against the jihadists. Immediately before tonight’s hard-earned joy, on another side of town around 2,000 people formed a procession to a local cemetery to bury one young woman and three young men who lost their lives this weekend on the eastern front. The faces of their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers depicted the agonies of a war against Daesh which Kurds and other Rojava citizens insist they are fighting on behalf of the whole world.