Darkness was defeated in Kobanê
Cemil Mazlum, one of the SDF Commanders of the Euphrates Region, said that there was a war of survival in Kobanê 7 years ago. "Either darkness would win or light. It was light that prevailed in Kobanê."
Cemil Mazlum, one of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Euphrates Region commanders, said that with the Kobanê victory, the world gained the courage to fight ISIS. He added that they can defeat the invaders today just as they defeated ISIS and its supporters in 2014.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the invasion attacks on Kobanê, commander Cemil Mazlum, answered ANF's questions.
Could you tell us a little about the atmosphere in the region before Kobanê was attacked?
It has been 7 years since the attacks against Kobanê. I remember and pay tribute to all the martyrs… Arîn Mîrkan, Gelhat, Eriş, Zozan, Rêvan, Dilgeş, and all Kobanê resistance fighters who fought against ISIS and gave their lives in the Kobanê resistance.
Before ISIS struck Kobanê, the peoples of the Middle East and Syria were involved in a process. Kurds built their own structures and organizations to resist the exploitation of the void created by this process. The Kurdish people organized and defended themselves based on the philosophy and concept of freedom. At the beginning of the Rojava Revolution, the Kurdish people organised themselves into three cantons for the people of Rojava and Syria. The cantons of Afrin, Kobanê, and Jazira were established. Of course, the circumstances were difficult at the time. The Damascus government was attacking. The cantons of Afrin, Jazira, and Kobanê were besieged by mercenaries. These three areas defended themselves by forming their own organizations. From 2011 until 2014, there was an ongoing struggle against Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, and mercenaries claiming to be the "free army" and backed by regional forces. The Kurdish population, as well as YPG and YPJ forces, were able to repel all attacks. They were successful in developing their own security system.
At the beginning of 2014, ISIS began to organise in several regions, most notably Iraq and Syria. This mercenary organization occupied several places, including Mosul, Shengal, as well as many cities throughout Syria, including Raqqa, Deir Ez-Zor, Ezaz, Aleppo. There was no power, state, or technology that could stand against ISIS. They launched attacks on the Rojava Revolution armed with weapons and equipment taken from the Iraqi and Syrian governments. They carried out numerous strikes in the Jazira region. Then they decided that Kobanê was their primary target.
What is the significance of Kobanê?
Kobanê served as a symbol for us. The revolution began on 19 July there. The people's resistance and organizing began here. As a result, they attacked Kobanê in order to target the people's revolution. When the attacks began, Kobanê had very few options. From 2011 until 2014, the population of Kobanê were surrounded by the groups Cebhet Al Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, and others. Until then, the people of Kobanê had been able to organize and defend themselves, but as previously said, when the attacks began, Kobanê had few options. They lacked ammunition and the tools to launch a major war. Both the people and the YPG/YPJ combatants were adamant about their choices and views. When ISIS struck, the YPG/YPJ forces did not back down because of their determination and commitment. It was, of course, a fight for survival. Actually, the conflict in Kobanê was a clash of two competing ideologies. On the one hand, the philosophy and concept of freedom and, on the other, a war of a despot, backward, barbarian, and authoritarian mentality. It was a war between light and darkness. And light was victorious in Kobanê.
What is it about Kobanê that has caused such a stir around the world?
This determination and resistance were witnessed by the entire world. Kobanê was a little town that, although having little backing, was able to fight and resist this enemy. The entire world sought to understand and got to know those who fought with such zeal and heroism. Naturally, this opposition drew the attention of foreign powers. In truth, the international forces decided to combat ISIS because of the resistance in Kobanê. The Kobanê resistance has also become a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. It demonstrated that fighting ISIS is possible.
The international public opinion was overwhelmingly supportive of the resistance. This resistance was supported by people in many parts of Europe, from Northern Kurdistan to Bashur and Rojhilat. People rushed to the borders, crossed them, and joined the Kobanê conflict. Thousands of people rose up in protest, and dozens of internationalists joined the cause. Kobanê became a symbol in this way. The Syrian people, on the other hand, have shown tremendous support. The opposition included Arab, Assyrian, Turkmen, and libertarian groups. With this opposition and support, YPG/YPJ fighters were successful.
What impact did the Kobanê victory have on the area, and specifically on the Rojava Revolution's trajectory?
In Syria, the Kobanê resistance was a beginning. It was Syria's first success and victory over ISIS. As a result, the freedom fighters switched their attention to other occupied territories in Syria. Other occupied areas of Syria were liberated. Syria's citizens took part in these movements. They merged into the SDF and joined the struggle to drive the invaders out of their own country. In any case, the YPG/YPJ maintained their resistance until Baghouz. For 6-7 years, there was significant resistance and a war. Of course, the price paid was high. Thousands of people fell as martyrs. Hundreds of thousands of people emigrated. ISIS has killed thousands of civilians. Thousands of people have been kidnapped by ISIS, and their fate is unknown. In Baghouz, the YPG/YPJ and the SDF defeated ISIS.
But ISIS still exists as an idea and a concept. As long as there are attacks on the concept of freedom and the democratic nation project, and not embraced, there is the possibility for the resurrection of dangerous mercenaries like ISIS.
The ground for the rebirth of ISIS thought and attitude, as well as the fight against the liberation project, has not yet vanished. Our lands are still being occupied as concrete evidence of this. Anyone who challenges the ideology and concept of freedom represents the ISIS mentality to us. The attacks on North-East Syria continue today.
Many areas in North East Syria are under the threat of attack, and some areas are occupied. What can you say about that?
During the last ten years of conflict, our people have accumulated a lot of experience. They can distinguish between a friend and an enemy. The SDF fighters are well aware that our greatest ally is our people. Our people and our fighters are our only assurance. We don’t expect any outside help.
Syria's predicament is clear. The political and economic crisis is still ongoing. Some nations, international governments, and regional states continue to pursue divergent strategies in Syria. That is why we don't say things like "we defeated ISIS" or "we secured our safety." As a population in North-East Syria, we must be prepared to defend ourselves against economic, military, and political challenges. We will overcome these difficulties in the same way that we did in 2014. Today, we have even more opportunities, and we can use these to overcome any obstacle. Yes, there are some flaws. This is something we notice. But we still have a formidable enemy ahead of us. We are under severe threat. Right now, our primary goal is to defeat these dangers and to secure the revolution in Syria's northeast. We have a total of ten years of experience. We can derail all of their plans today, just as we did in the past.