YPJ Commander: We will defeat the Turkish state in Afrin again
YPJ Commander Axîn Efrîn stated that the Turkish state will regret their attacks against Afrin and said, “We have defeated the Turkish state’s gangs before, now we will defeat them once again.”
YPJ (Women's Defense Units) Commander Axîn Efrîn spoke to the ANF about the Operation Cizire Storm and the Turkish state’s attacks on Afrin.
OPERATION CIZIRE STORM
You started the Deir ez-Zor operation before the Raqqa operation concluded. What made that necessary?
It has been 4 months since the Deir ez-Zor operation started, we are now in the fifth month. When we started this operation, the Raqqa operation was still underway. Us launching this operation back during the Raqqa process is due to our confidence in ourselves. We have proven that we can fight in multiple fronts and that we are strong enough to do so. With great sacrifice, faith and resolve, and with new and improved tactics for war, we knew that we could execute these two operations simultaneously. That is why we didn’t wait for the Raqqa operation to end. The Deir ez-Zor operation started with great resolve. One other reason that we launched this operation was the call of the people of Deir ez-Zor. At the time we launched the operation, the Syrian regime launched one from the other side of the Euphrates. Conditions then and conditions now are different. At first, the Syrian Regime launched an operation on the other side of the Euphrates River with support from Iran and Russia, and we launched from this side.
Where is the operation at now?
As we marched strongly onto ISIS and defeated them, the Syrian regime and other forces started to try and push us back. Many times these forces hit us in attempts to sabotage our operation. They wanted to make us look weak and unable to fight ISIS with these. They wanted to constrict us in this sense. We have voided these policies by the regime and other forces. We have liberated the Deir ez-Zor lands, which cover hundreds of square kilometers. We have liberated dozens of villages. With this faith and resolve, we have reached the Iraqi border. Now there is a 50 km stretch of land left in front of us, we have to liberate it and hand it over to the people of the region. But I can say that this 50 km stretch is the most difficult part in the whole operation. Why? Because all the fleeing ISIS gangs settled in this area. There are those who fled Raqqa, who fled from the regime’s side, who fled from Iraq, they all settled in the small towns along the Euphrates. There were many ISIS gangs here in the past as well. Among them there are people from very different places. There are the Shishanis, there are those from Russia and Turkey and from various European countries, there are those from Egypt and Saudi Arabia. All ISIS gangs from all over have gathered here. With that, all the ammunition and technical equipment they brought as they fled have gathered here as well. Because this is the final position for ISIS. That is why the war is much harder and rougher. Despite that, our forces have been marching on with great will and courage. Despite all hardships and attacks, YPG, YPJ and SDF fighters have lost no courage or resolve in marching on to ISIS gangs. Our forces have great strength for success and victory.
What makes the Deir ez-Zor operation different from the others?
We deeply believe that we will end ISIS gangs here. For that, we are ecstatic. Many forces have claimed to fight ISIS. We have defeated ISIS in many locations. Manbij and Raqqa, dubbed the capital of ISIS, were the most recent examples. We have thus shown we are different. The thing about Deir ez-Zor is this: The absolute end of ISIS will come at our hands, at the hands of the SDF. Nobody should kid themselves. Nobody should say ISIS is done for in Syria. Yes, maybe they no longer have a large scale force. But ISIS survives in many places still. In areas like Idlib and Damascus, ISIS still continues its actions. But as an organized force, they are only left here in front of us and that will be ended by the SDF fighters.
Now there are really large scale clashes. There is an intense war going on. We are faced with a force that is high in numbers. But I should add this: In terms of faith and strength, ISIS is experiencing a serious fracture. Every day new groups come and surrender. And they are separating among themselves a lot. Gangs from the region and from other places have many disagreements. For that, they are falling apart. Even though they do have a concentrated presence in terms of numbers, they also have corrosion internally. Our goal is to complete the operation successfully in the coming period.
THE STATE OF CIVILIANS
There are many civilians who crossed over from the Deir ez-Zor center to your side, and then there are civilians in the side you take on the operation from. What can you say about the state they are in?
By the beginning of the operation, ISIS gangs carried out massacres against civilians. These civilians were mostly those who were trying to reach our side from the regime side. We were in an intense effort to ensure the civilians’ security as we continued with the operation on the other hand. We settled them in camps we set up by the beginning of the operation. We tried to fulfill all the needs of these civilians through our own means. As villages and lands were liberated, these civilians started to return home. Now people have returned to all liberated villages, towns and hamlets and they continue with their lives. And these returning people have their needs provided by special units we have formed.
“WE DEFEATED THE GANGS THEY NURTURED”
The Turkish state has recently been attacking Afrin. You are from Afrin personally, and you stayed there as a YPJ Commander. What do you think of these attacks?
For a long time, Erdoğan and the Turkish state have been threatening Rojava. Erdoğan had been threatening Afrin constantly. In these last few days, their threats intensified. It has remained at the level of threats up to now, but now there has been an actual hit on Afrin for the first time. But we will not fight against the Turkish forces in Rojava for the first time. The fact of the matter is, our defeat of ISIS was really the defeat of the Turkish state. Again, we consider the times we fought in Rojava against the “Free Army” and other forces to actually be times we fought against Turks. Today all the gangs who fight us in Rojava, Northern Syria and Syria are gangs Erdoğan and the Turkish state have nurtured in their bosom. Erdoğan’s fury and ambition in attacking Afrin stems from the great fury he feels for the defeat of ISIS. This is in reality Erdoğan’s defeat. All forces we have defeated used to be forces they nurtured. ISIS is defeated in Rojava and Northern Syria. That is the defeat of Erdoğan.
The Turkish state has always followed this policy: However much they experience corrosion and defeat internally, they always want to continue the war outside themselves. The Turkish state is experiencing a great crisis now. The end of the war with ISIS also marked the beginning of a new era in Northern Syria. Namely, the implementation of the Northern Syria project. It was the people in Northern Syria who led this project. It is a new model for living to be created by the Kurdish, Arab, Syriac, Turkmen and Christian peoples. The foundation of this project is comprised of our forces, the SDF. Truly the SDF is an example of this project that has come to life. In the SDF there is representation for all peoples. And in Northern Syria, this will take shape concretely. That is what Erdoğan can’t tolerate. That is why what Erdoğan wants is to keep us and Syria in a state of constant war and delay the implementation of this project.
“THEIR TARGET IS THE NORTHERN SYRIA PROJECT”
Everybody knows how the mind of the Turkish state works. In a dictatorial mindset, they constantly chant “one nation, one state”. They can’t accept a society that has diversity, democracy and equality. That is why they attack us and our society. It is an absolute excuse that “terrorists” cross over Rojava into their borders. And it is not true. We know their intentions. Their true intention is to attack the Northern Syria project. And they want to hide the military, economic and social crisis in their own country and to show they are strong and present, that is why they attack.
“TURKEY WILL DROWN IN CRISES”
On the other hand, the Turkish state attacking Afrin is dragging themselves into the quicksand. With this approach, Erdoğan will completely drown Turkey in crises. Anytime Erdoğan is on TV, he speaks not like a president of a country but like a dictator, or a commander.
“THE PEOPLE AND FIGHTERS WILL MAKE THEM REGRET”
We believe that like we crushed ISIS in Kobanê with our national force, we will fight against the Turkish state with double the national unity and forces. YPG, YPJ, Jabal Al-Aqrad and Jaysh Al-Thuwar forces have been preparing for a long time. With great preparation and their resolute and faithful stance, the Turkish state will regret ever coming. This was best evidenced in the people’s march in Afrin. As YPG commanders in Afrin say, the Turkish state should see that the whole people are YPG and YPJ in Afrin. The people of Afrin have shown with their stance that the Kurdish people now have a national consciousness. The Kurd that the Turkish state has created in its mind does not exist anymore. Kurds are a people loyal to their land, their children and their freedom. The Kurdish people has a great belief now. They believe to the end that their military force will protect them to the end. The Turkish state has this in its mind: They think when they attack Afrin, the people will rush to the borders. That is why they are building crossing gates on the borders. They first built the wall we call the wall of shame. Now they are installing gates on that wall. But the people of Afrin know very well that the executioner who kills them can’t protect them! And they have shown with the march that no force can defeat them. Turks will regret coming to Afrin greatly. And the people of Afrin grew up on the mountains of Afrin. They will never let the Turkish state through. Afrin is a steep and mountainous area. The Turkish state can’t hold on there.
SILENCE OF SYRIA AND RUSSIA
What do you think of the silence of Russia and Syria?
There are some forces in Afrin who are in dialogue with us. We don’t call it an alliance because forces in alliance would keep that up in all ways. That is why we call it a dialogue. One of these forces is Russia. Russia has not reacted at all yet. They have been silent. In a way, that means approving Turkey’s attacks. This approach would also be the greatest mistake in history towards the Kurdish people that Russia makes. The silence of the regime is in a way accepting their own lack of will. It is accepting that they don’t exist as a state and have been defeated.
I will say this once more: It won’t be the first time we fight the Turkish state in Rojava, and it won’t be the first time we defeat them. We have fought against the Turkish state countless times in Rojava, and we will again.