The ‘era of heroes’ is not over yet: Raqqa
"In Raqqa blood of many innocent people was shed and is drenched with the blood of heroes for 4 months now. We have left behind a piece of our heart in every inch of this country, and a bond has been forged between us and this land with blood."
The final phase in Raqqa is drawing to a close. The ISIS, which has been pushed into a corner, is targeting the civilian population as usual. Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are breaking these attacks at the sacrifice of their own lives and are leaving behind a piece of their hearts here on this soil. At the same time, they plant deep into their hearts the seeds of a homeland, which they are attached to with their souls and their hearts.
In the talks and faces of a group of fighters, who are fiercely responding to the ISIS gangs in Raqqa Samra and Mishlib neighbourhoods, we see the country which they dedicated themselves to.
ISIS IS CLOSE TO ITS END AND IS ATTACKING CIVILIANS
The Operation to Liberate Raqqa is drawing to an end. More than 80 percent of Raqqa city is under SDF control now. ISIS has been jammed tight and has been rendered basically immobile. ISIS gangs have pinned all their hopes on suicide attacks, but SDF fighters are also frustrating those attempts.
The ISIS gangs know well that they are living their final hours. In an effort to prolong their lifetime in the city a little bit more, ISIS gangs are operating in populated areas, are infiltrating them and trying to attack the SDF fighters in that manner. The gangs that launched attacks on the Samra and Mishlib neighbourhoods recently had seized the vehicles of the civilian population and killed some residents. Those ISIS gangs, who faced huge resistance from the SDF fighters, were totally destroyed.
TRIUMPH, PAIN AND WRATH ARE INTERMINGLED
We see with triumph, wrath and pain on the faces of the fighters that return from a battle of three days. The fighters are coming back proud and triumphantly, as they inflict fatal blows to ISIS gangs each time no matter where they are engaged in clashes with them. They are also losing some comrades but they have no opportunity to grieve for their martyred comrades. Pain and grief are clinging to their faces like thin layers.
There is also the fact that they have witnessed many times how the ISIS gangs targeted the civilians, which infuriate them hugely. They know by now very well all the violations of moral principles by ISIS, but they cannot bring themselves to simply accept it.
We joined the company of a group of Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen fighters in front of the rubbles of destroyed buildings. They were discussing the three days of battle. There was something about their communication that caught the eye. Nobody was talking about themselves and the battles they fought in. They only talked about how their comrades were fighting, how those were defeating the enemy and how they entrapped the ISIS gangs. And when it came to speak about their martyred comrades, their faces were always soaked with a proud sadness.
"WE LEFT BEHIND A PIECE OF OUR HEARTS EVERYWHERE"
A young fighter with the name Brûsk slowly raised the Kalashnikov in his hand and showed it to his comrades, saying; "This is the arm of my childhood friend Şervan. He fought three days in a row and fell a martyr during an attempt to rescue an injured comrade. I took up his arm."
Brûsk buried his childhood friend but never found the time to grieve for him. As he spoke his eyes sparkled with both pride and the pain he hid in his heart.
Brûsk went on saying: "In Raqqa blood of countless innocent people was shed, and it is drenched with the blood of heroes for four months now. I am from Manbij, but a part of me will be in Raqqa now. We have left behind a piece of our hearts in every inch of this country and we are bound up with this land by blood.”
IN THE DIRECTION OF THE SUN
Brûsk was like speaking these words from the heart of all his comrades. His companions were repeating those words softly: "Indeed, we are definitely bound up with these lands by our souls, hearts and blood."
It is impossible to listen to this talk and not be affected. Acts of heroism that we have witnessed since the beginning of the Great Battle for Raqqa come to my mind, and I say to myself; "Those who became the epitome of attachment to this soil must never be forgotten, we must never allow them to be forgotten."
With those memories in my mind and those words in the heart, I take leave of the group of fighters here. Those words the young fighter Brûsk said earlier voiced the emotions all the other fighters were feeling, as for me they became a catalyst in my head. The wars in these lands, the pain, enslaved women are all coming to my mind one by one and I say: "The era of heroes is not over yet."
We stand up and take our leave. As we walk along the road, the sun begins to go down in Raqqa Samra. We get a glimpse of the fighters in the streets. They were walking in the direction of the sun. Each one of them seems to have communed with the sun.