YJA Star Commander: The Turkish military is stuck in Zap

"The Turkish army is confused and is having a hard time figuring out where to do what and in what place,” said Guerrilla commander Hêzil Özgür regarding the current situation in the Zap region of southern Kurdistan.

On April 17, the Turkish army started a ground operation in the Zap and Avaşîn regions in the guerrilla-held Medya Defense Zones in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq) after massive air strikes. In an interview with ANF, Hêzil Özgür, one of the commanders of the Free Women's Troops, YJA Star, described the Turkish army's situation as desperate. In the places where troops could be airdropped, soldiers are holed up behind barbed wire, sensors, cameras and dogs, she said, adding, "The friends neutralize these measures and attack the enemy. They kill and injure soldiers and take their equipment."

Did you expect this new invasion attempt by the Turkish army?

The Turkish state wanted to achieve success in a short time with its invasion attacks last year, but when it was defeated in Avaşîn, it was postponed until 2022. After last year's actions, it was clear that the attacks would continue this year. We knew that a more comprehensive attack would develop this year because the fascist AKP/MHP government maintains its power and rule through war.

Were you prepared in this sense?

Preparations for the current war have been made in the Zap region for years. The battle tunnels have been very well prepared. Work has been done to make even better use of the terrain. But the most important thing was to see how we could counter the enemy. We prepared on every level, in our hearts and minds. Therefore, everyone responded to the appropriate degree when attempts were made to attack the region on the ground.

The Turkish army began attempting to airdrop troops on April 17 after three days of intense airstrikes. What were the tactical considerations behind this?

In fact, the name that the Turkish state gave to the invasion offensive (Pençe-Kilit - Claw Lock) was its tactic. The plan was this; the entire Zap was to be surrounded, the strategic hills surrounding the region were to be occupied; there was to be no way out of the region. The troops were to be airdropped the first night and stationed there. From Kuro Jahro in the south, through the highland pastures between Şîkefta Birîndara and the Karker hill, to Werxelê, Çiyayê Reş and so on ... The point was to bring Zap under control and neutralize the guerrillas. With reconnaissance flights, fighter jets and artillery attacks, it was thought that they could pave the way for such an attack.

Did that happen then?

No, the enemy miscalculated. It was not what he thought it would be.

The Turkish state has been fighting you for years. How could it not know that it would not be so easy?

In fact, they certainly knew in some way that Zap was not such an easy place for them to come and just settle down whenever they wanted. Both sides have their history in the Zap region. Because of this, the Turkish state deployed all of its units at once. This was to show strength against the guerrillas and to limit their range of movement. Heavy warfare based on technology and psychological warfare were also aimed at this. 50 fighter jets were permanently deployed, reconnaissance flights took place constantly and artillery fired without pause to achieve this goal. In this way, the guerrillas were meant to be terrified. Another aspect concerned their own soldiers.

What was it?

The soldiers were to be built up psychologically by telling them, "We have destroyed all their caves, we are bombing every day." The Turkish army used so many fighter jets and technology to give their soldiers some confidence. The soldiers who were to be taken to the massively bombed areas were told, "There are no guerrillas here anymore." Meanwhile, there is no place in the Zap that has not been bombed. Nevertheless, without reconnaissance flights, the military is unable to move because of fear.

The fight has been going on for 26 days. Who has the initiative?

The initiative is in the hands of the comrades. Of course, this war is not easy, the difficulties are many and sacrifices are made. We are fighting armed with our will against the most advanced NATO technology in the world. Moreover, our enemy is acting completely immorally and against all the laws of war. The sacrifice of our comrades in the field is a source of pride for us. It deserves great respect. The comrades are determined to break the enemy in Zap, because they know the importance of Zap for all of Kurdistan. This state is built on enmity towards the Kurds. It keeps itself alive by relying on traitors, collaborators and abjurers. This is how the Kurds who want to live freely are meant to be wiped out. We are Kurds who fight with our free will to live in a free Kurdistan and do not want anyone to rule us. Rêber Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] is being tortured because he rejects this policy of the Turkish state to force a surrender. We draw strength from the Apoist paradigm. Anyone who acts within the framework of the Apoist ideology is considered an enemy to the Turkish state anyway.

Back to the preparation of the guerrillas and the way they confronted the Turkish army from the first moment. What has been done in the process?

We are aware of the purpose, greed and hatred with which the Turkish state is attacking Zap. It is hostile to our people, all its values, the region and its nature and all living beings in it. It burns our trees with hatred. Ten heavy bombs can be dropped on a single one of our comrades.

Measures were taken in the area. When the occupiers arrived there, booby traps which the comrades had laid exploded. The comrades implemented all possible forms of action against the invading forces. This ranged from assassinations to sabotage, from infiltration to assault with heavy weapons. All tactics and weapons at our disposal were used. Therefore, the enemy experienced a huge shock when they arrived in the region. After all, the soldiers had been told, "They will be in the caves, and we will land around them, and we will not allow them to raise their heads." They didn't know what preparations we had made on the ground, how we were positioned, and in what ways we were able to intervene directly once they came. Some military details we don't share publicly either. Wherever the enemy airdropped its soldiers, they were struck by our comrades. They could not airdrop troops in peace, nor could they just move around the region with their Cobra aircraft. For this reason, the Turkish army is in an extremely awkward position in Zap.

Couldn't troops be airdropped anywhere?

There are some places where they have airdropped troops. That's true. When they approach the entrances of the war tunnels, our comrades shoot from outside and prevent them from approaching the tunnels. The enemy uses chemical weapons and large quantities of explosives to occupy some places. Like last year, chemical weapons and heavy bombs are used against the war tunnels every day. The war here has continued for 26 days now. Where troops have been airdropped, they cannot move a step. They are completely immobilized.

Turkey has a huge air force and uses chemical weapons, so why should its army be stuck as you say?

This is because in some places the soldiers are stuck between two fronts of the comrades. We have them surrounded. The soldiers are caught in the middle of the guerrillas. The comrades fire at them from all sides. Wherever cobra helicopters go into action, the friends strike them. They prevent troops from being airdropped. The soldiers who are airdropped in the field surround themselves with cameras, dogs, sensors and barbed wire. We neutralize all these measures that the soldiers create to be able to stay there. The comrades attack the enemy, kill and injure soldiers and take their equipment. The Turkish army is confused and struggling to get clear on what to do and where. Dozens of times a day, these areas are bombed.

Aren't these attacks hindering the guerrillas or resulting in casualties in their ranks?

We have made arrangements. Last year, we discussed among ourselves where our shortcomings lay. We gained experience last year, and this year we corrected shortcomings on that basis. We drew conclusions from these experiences and made certain changes. Despite the fact that so many bombings took place, none of us fell in these air raids. All of our martyrs died on the front lines, in combat. We neutralize the technology that the enemy relies on so much. That is the reason why they use chemical weapons. When chemical weapons are used against Kurds, no one says anything. The international powers, institutions and states know that the Turkish state uses chemical weapons, but they remain silent.

How do the guerrillas manage to confront this superiority of the Turkish state, which is highly armed by NATO, not only militarily but also psychologically?

We are on our land, we are in our homeland, but they are intruders. Among us there is true comradeliness and devotion. Consciousness about the enemy, conviction and morality merge. We draw our strength from our ideology, from Apoism, from our organized structure, from our resistant people. When we see our people in action on the streets, it gives us great strength. We are loyal to the legacy of our martyrs and our promise of victory to them. All this makes the enemy's technique, his attacks and his soldiers smaller for us. It motivates us not to fear him, but to achieve a superior position to him.

Finally, we would like to ask about the performance of the YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) in combat. In the daily statements, we see both their leadership role and the autonomous women's actions. Could you tell us something about that?

YJA Star has been preparing for a leadership role in the struggle based on the experiences of the last year, the determination and strength that manifested itself everywhere on March 8. This role was handed over to us especially by our comrades Mizgîn, Viyan, Şaristan and Zîlan, who fell in Zap. The YJA Star is leading the current process. The war at Kuro Jahro, for example, was fought exclusively by female comrades. They were actions of the YJA Star. Also, in Werxelê and in Xakurke, the participation of YJA Star was at the highest level. The women participate in this war with their distinctness and will. YJA Star is leading this war and has adopted modern warfare at a professional level. It has gained knowledge at the highest level in all weapons, tactics and specializations. Full of courage, the enemy is overrun. As YJA Star, we are aware of the responsibility that rests on the shoulders of female comrades in war. That is why we made a pledge of victory even before the attack. The lineage of women like Bêrîtan, Zîlan, Viyan and Sara is being lived by all means on the battlefield today. With their sacrifice, courage and participation, the comrades not only represent this line, they carry it to new heights.

Just recently, comrades shot down a Sikorsky transport helicopter. This is not an ordinary event. We do not have NATO tactics. Even with the help of Cobra attack helicopters, troops cannot be airdropped. About 400 soldiers have died. We will not allow the occupiers to settle in Zap as they wish. In the coming period, the level of war will continue to rise. Our people deserve a free life now. For this reason, we are sacrificing ourselves. We will do whatever is necessary. We are convinced that we will defeat the Turkish state in Zap. We will be worthy of our martyrs.