YPG Spokesman: We will crown 2017 with victory
2016 was a challenging year of struggle for Rojava against savage gang groups, ISIS in the first place. This struggle was led by YPG and YPJ.
YPG Spokesman Redur Xelil answered ANF's questions regarding the 2016 practices of the YPG/YPJ (People's/Women's Defense Units) that put ISIS through a process of regression, one of the most savage organizations in human history.
Xelîl said they wanted 2017 to be the year when the forces terrorizing and massacring people in Syria and the region such as ISIS and Al-Nusra come to an end. He added: “The war will become severer during 2017. ISIS intensifies its attacks as the circle around it tightens. Our forces have advanced up to Raqqa, the capital of ISIS. Similarly, a major military campaign is being run against the ISIS in Mosul region. 2017 will be the year of success.”
"WE EARNED HUGE VICTORIES IN 2016"
What were your goals for 2016? What results did you achieve?
We as People's Defense Units started a severe battle against terrorist ISIS in early 2016. our goal was to draw ISIS away from Kurdish territories and to guarantee peace in the areas we liberate. On this basis, we as YPG conducted major operations and offensives together with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during 2016. One of these military campaigns was the Operation Wrath of Euphrates. At the beginning of this operation, the Shaddadi area and the Tishreen Dam were liberated from ISIS and the operation to liberate Manbij was supported by our side. These three campaigns were successfully finalized with the participation of the YPG.
We can say that 2016 was the year when the terrorist ISIS was broken down. The battle, resistance and success against ISIS has not ended yet, it continues still. Now we are partaking in the SDF's operation to encircle Raqqa. This operation is led by the YPG and YPJ. Major gains have been achieved and around 100 villages have been liberated in this campaign. These operations will continue in 2017 as well.
"WE JOINED THE MANBIJ OPERATION AT THE REQUEST OF THE MANBIJ PEOPLE"
What role did the YPG play in the liberation of Manbij?
Manbij was a strategic city and a second headquarters of the ISIS after Raqqa. In addition, Manbij was ISIS' transition route to the outside world and foreign countries over Turkey. Manbij Military Council was declared before the beginning of the Manbij operation. This council asked the YPG/YPJ to assist the liberation of Manbij. Manbij Military Council is mainly made up of locals and it was the first council to be founded in Manbij. Our forces participated in the operation on the basis of assisting and supporting the Council. The city of Manbij was liberated on August 15, 2016 and our forces handed it over to the Manbij Military Council and Manbij Civilian Council. People of Manbij rule their city at the moment.
Undoubtedly, the Turkish state created serious obstacles during the Manbij operation. The Turkish state had drawn boundaries for itself before this operation. Within the scope of these boundaries, YPG forces shouldn't have been able to cross over to the west of Euphrates. The Turkish state had taken western Euphrates as a red line for itself. For this reason, it intensified its attacks and bombarded the positions of YPG, Manbij Military Council and civilian settlements amid continued threats. However, despite all these pressures and attacks of the Turkish state, the Operation Martyr Commander Faysal Abu Leyla was completed successfully, and thus Manbij was liberated.
"YPJ THE MOST ACTIVE FORCE IN THE OPERATION WRATH OF EUPHRATES"
What role do the YPG/YPJ have in the Operation Wrath of Euphrates to liberate Raqqa?
YPG/YPJ have undertaken a leading role in the Operation Wrath of Euphrates. This operation is a military campaign we have developed to avenge the Êzîdî people who were massacred, abducted and sold as slaves by the ISIS. This operation has such a meaning to us before everything else. YPJ are playing a very active and leading role in this operation. It is YPJ commanders that are leading the operation.
For sure, this military campaign is of great importance as Raqqa is a headquarters of ISIS. The liberation of Raqqa has a major importance and our forces are actively participating in the operation within the body of the SDF. This operation continues at full force at the moment and it will be finalized with victory as well.
"OUR MISSION IS TO DEFEND OUR PEOPLE AND LANDS"
Which activities did you carry out in the areas under your control during 2016?
As a military force, we do not intervene the social life in the liberated areas. There are Democratic Autonomy administration, institution and establishments in those areas. The social life is organized in the form of communes and assemblies. There are many political parties and organizations in these areas. As a military force, our mission is to cleanse the ISIS-occupied areas and we have fulfilled this mission precisely. With regards to military activities, we are still engaged with the promotion and recruitment of more combatants in our ranks. Every new participant receives organizational and military training in our academies. However, no force affiliated to the YPG and YPJ intervenes the social life of the locals.
"STRONG PARTICIPATION IN YPG IN LIBERATED AREAS"
What reaction have you received from the locals in the areas you liberated in 2016? What is the situation regarding the participation of locals in YPG/J ranks in these areas?
We have gained control over a large territory, some 15.000 km2, from ISIS occupation in 2016. Dozens of cities, hundreds of villages, towns and hundreds of thousands of people have been liberated in this territory. The people in these areas experienced a great joy for being rescued from ISIS after a challenging time under ISIS occupation where they were subjected to atrocity, savagery, beheading and execution. People therefore welcomed every liberation operation positively.
In addition, youths in the liberated areas made strong participation in YPG ranks following our operations. Those locals that had been forced to migrate due to the attacks and occupation of ISIS and similar gangs had the chance to return home after the liberation of their lands. The administration in these areas was once again handed over to civilians who formed their own assemblies and started to lead a democratic life.
Which relations and alliances did you establish with international and regional forces in 2016? What results did these yield?
In fact, we as YPG have taken significant steps in military diplomacy over the past years since the liberation of Kobanê. A strong relation has been established with the international coalition forces, mainly with the U.S. As is known, more than 60 states take place in the international coalition to fight against ISIS. These were military relations, of course.
On this basis, we both received assistance from them and gained experience from their use of technical methods. We can say that the relation between YPG and the coalition is at the highest level at the moment. We are working in a kind of joint manner with the international coalition. We are defending and liberating these lands while the coalition provides air support.
Whom we consider as regional forces are the peoples living in Rojava and Syria. A unity has been established among the peoples of Rojava. This has been achieved thanks to YPG and SDF which include dozens of military forces involving fighters from Arab, Syriac, Kurdish, Assyrian and other peoples.
As you know, Turkey, too, is a regional force. However, Turkey pursues a hostile attitude against the YPG and SDF and tries to allege as a terrorist force.
How do you assess the Turkish state's attacks during 2016 and what will your attitude be towards these attacks in the coming period?
During the 5 years of the Syrian revolution, Turkey has supported all armed groups and terrorist groups. Turkey both armed and politically supported them, as it on the other hand always manifested its enmity towards the Kurds. With an alliance made after these 5 years, Turkey has sold out all the forces which it called revolutionary and supported in Syria. After 5 years of destruction and death, Turkey sold out all those forces in return that Kurds do not gain a status in Syria and the cantons of Kobanê and Efrîn are not unified.
The Turkish state does not want the Kurds to have a right and will in Syria. Its Kurdish enmity, which it has pursued since the beginning, continues in a more open and violent manner today. Turkish forces carried out dozens of attacks during 2016 with the goal of provoking us and dragging us into battle. We, however, did not want them to achieve this goal as we dealt with a savage force like ISIS. Of course, we prepared dozens of files on these attacks and submitted them to relevant authorities.
We have manifested our attitude since the beginning against the Turkish state targeting Jarablus, Azaz and Bab. We consider this situation as an occupation of Rojava and Northern Syria lands. If the Turkish state wants to enter Kobanê, Efrîn or other liberated areas, we will resist and never allow them.
What are your goals for 2017?
2017 must be a final year to us. We want 2017 to be the year when the forces terrorizing and massacring people in Syria and the region such as ISIS and Al-Nusra come to an end. This is how we approach the new year. Still, we know that it will be a quite violent year as the war will get severer. ISIS intensifies its attacks as the circle around it tightens. Our forces have advanced up to Raqqa, the capital of ISIS. Similarly, a major military campaign is being run against the ISIS in Mosul region. 2017 will be the year of success.