The Heroes of Geliyê Shilo

When ISIS invaded Shengal in August, 2014, it was the HPG guerillas who came to the rescue of the Êzidî people. Ahmet Bagok was one of those guerillas and tells us now of the heroes of Geliyê Shilo.

In August 2014, when ISIS invaded Shengal, the People's Defense Forces (HPG) guerillas came to the rescue of the Êzidî people. The valley Geliyê Shilo offered, as it did to the fleeing Êzidî, also them its strong shelter. But their connections to outside were cut off, the corridor was closed and their supplies depleted. Not enough, Geliyê Shîlo's siege would have meant the occupation of half of Shengal.

ISIS was intensifying its attacks on that region, but the guerillas of Kurdistan offered resistance, prepared to sacrifice themselves. They kept on carrying out actions, which opened them access to the ammunitions of the gangs and then they continued to resist using the new armory. They received blows, but turned them alike back. Ahmet Bagok was one of the 6 guerillas whose group reached Geliyê Shîlo early. At first he commemorated his eight comrades Alîşer, Çeko, Kendal, Polat, Zinar, Şehîd Berxwedan, Rustem and Cûdî and spoke then to us the ANF about that phase.


Guerilla Bagok told that the first group of guerilla reached the valley Geliyê Shîlo when the massacre on the Êzidî happened, and went on, "This valley harbours a very deep history. It's mainly marked by natural caves. There are exactly as many caves as a year counts 365 days. It is a very hidden and hard accessible location. The people who fled the genocide took refuge at this place in the beginning. Actually this is a place where people lived at, since yore. Ancient people and civilisations of Mesoptamia as Assyrians, Armenian and Êzidî Kurds took their refuge in this valley during the many massacres and genocides they faced in the past centuries, to protect their lives. We can see this truth through the marks and symbols which were left here behind. What keeps life vivid here are the natural sources of water. People headed to this valley due to the lack of water resources in the surrounding region.


Bagok explains that another group of guerilla had reached this place before them, but they didn't see themselves in a strange territory because the valley is very suited for defense which comes due its similarity to the mountains which they are fighting in for years. Bagok continues: " Canpolat and Kahraman have been among the first comrades to arrive. They positioned themselves in the south at the feet of the valley. They came to learn the area well as they were permanently on the movement. But the attacks of the gangs were heavy then. Our comrades in Barê village mounted enormous resistance to their attacks, but their ammunition was finished. After the martyrdom of Polat, Zinar and Cûdî who were the first to arrive here in the wake of the genocide, the village was let go."


The closure of the corridor in between Shengal and Rojava at that time caused critical hardship in relation to armory and basic supplies. But due to plans to carry out actions on Hayalê village, reinforcements came in from different directions. It was 20 days after the genocide. They were convening at Valley Şîlo and finishing all preparations. Bagok tells of that time: "ISIS launched attacks then at 21.00 on Valley Shîlo. They concentrated their attacks on the location in between the feet of two mountains which we call Deriyê Shîlo, the Door of Shîlo. But we were prepared for that. When ISIS charged to launch their attacks, the mines which we had installed beforehand detonated and blew them up. After they were dealt heavy blows, they had to retreat upon our response."


Çeko Çatak was commander on one flank during this phase, who fell later a martyr during the Northern Kurdistan (Bakur) Resistance in 2016. Bagok shares with us his memory with the commander: "He was then in the group which would charge right into the middle of the ISIS gangs. They were told to head to the "satir" (trenches build up of sand). So they were off to the so called "satir" and got to the place. When we were there, Çeko asked one of his comrades, 'What are these satir anyway, which they talked about?' His comrade replied, 'It's the very bulk of sand you're standing on top of right now'. Incidents didn't occur then, because the ISIS gangs had fled before. The comrade just gazed at the trench and around, but there were only bodies of ISIS members to be seen. So the group picked up all the left armory and headed back. Martyr Çeko had a huge hand in the protection of Shengal and its people. Comrade Çeko returned to Northern Kurdistan with the very same resolve and destination which he came to Shengal with, and fell a martyr later in Hezex (İdil) district of Şırnak."


The conditions aggravated by the minute. The corridor was shut off and ways to be in contact with outside were no more, and the area was mountaineous. They were forced to fight fully depending on guerrilla tactics as their ammunition was limited. But the dealt blows had in turn the more an effect on the attackers. For, fighting in mountaineous areas is a specialty belonging to the guerrillas. This enabled to deal hits on ISIS gangs whenever they attacked.

Bagok tells us of one day when ISIS again was charging an attack on Hill Kunê with armored vehicles: "They could only reach that far until they had to get off their vehicles. We carried out our actions then from two flanks. 10 ISIS members were killed here and another six injured. They retreated after they suffered this blow."

Leaving the attacks aside, fuel, armory and water caused big hardship especially after the closure of the corridor. They had to get fuel from a distant location by foot. But the hills Martyr Newrez and Martyr Agît around them were in ISIS hands, so they were forced to get what they needed at night. Clashes continued to erupt at least each three days.


The whole region of Barê, which fell into ISIS hands before, was thereafter liberated through an extensive strategy, a deal of heavy blows and no casualties at all. The region of Barê being positioned behind them, enabled the fighters an additional sigh of relief. Many assaults were conducted on Hill Martyr Alîşêr in front of the valley, with the force of a big mass of attackers. The guerilla had to withdraw here. Later the group which Bagok was a member of, would intervene and cleanse the hill of ISIS. Alîşêr was injured in his chest at this place, which carries his name since then.


To occupy the line of Shîlo meant at the same time the control over half of Mount Shengal. For that very reason the attacks never ceased. ISIS knew that lack of ammunition posed a prevalent problem, and concentrated all their attacks on Solak and Geliyê Shîlo. The guerrillas reached a point when they were dependent on the armory of the killed ISIS members. So they managed to fight on. Barê's liberation later brought along a good deal of supply in armory. After that, actions were carried out on ISIS positions on Hill Martyr Newrez. Guerilla Bagok tells us about that phase, reminding of his fallen comrades: "We did it like this. One wing was charging right into the middle of ISIS while the second wing provided the first with cover. The comrades gave it all and controlled the hill within a short time. We obtained here a Dushka and plenty of armory. The coalition forces who didn't provide help at all then, suddenly came and carried out bombings on this hill with their planes. Our comrades would have been hit if they hadn't got off the hill in the last minute."


"Martyr Kendal had a very decisive part in the liberation of this hill. Comrade Kendal fell in the Nusaybin uprising in 2016. In fact, when mentioning the valley Geliyê Shîlo, it brings Comrade Kendal first into one's mind. Because he was always there, when it was hardest. That was because of the many martyrs we had here. Only after the situation and conditions changed to the better here and the attacks of ISIS were foiled completely, he turned and headed to Bakur (Northern Kurdistan)."