“We will never leave our lands to the grandsons of the Ottomans”
Revolutionary Forces General Commander stressed that: “Grandsons of the Ottomans shouldn’t hope for too much, they won’t rest easy in Rojava for even one day. We will never leave our lands to them."
Revolutionary Forces (Jaysh Al Thuwar) General Commander Hacı Ehmed spoke to the ANF about the Northern Syria Invasion Operation that has been in place for a year, the new invasion plans of the Turkish state and the stance of the Revolutionary Forces.
Turkey has been implementing a policy of invading Shehba as part of the Northern Syria Invasion Operation for almost a year. What do you think?
Turkey’s entrance to the Shehba region is the day the Northern Syria Invasion Operation started, August 24, 2016. But the Turks’ plans and efforts over Shehba have deep roots, they go back to the beginning of the chaos and conflict in Syria. The Turkish state chose Shehba as an entry point to guarantee their position in Syria, particularly in Aleppo. For a long time, they have been working on Shehba and they have been organizing Shehba.
They carry out their efforts over some Turkmens, also some Arabs and Kurds in gang groups. On August 24, 2016, the Turkish state entered Shehba themselves. But the intelligence and organizing efforts have been going on for a much longer time. So we can say that the Turkish state prepared the region before they entered Shehba themselves.
In particular, ISIS was present in this area. They were present from Bab to Jarablus to Azaz. Turkey was very confident as long as ISIS was there. Their MİT agents were practically prancing around. Their comings and goings, their actions there, their support for ISIS, transporting ammunition, the diesel trade over Jarablus-Turkey border - they were able to do everything so easily. The Turkish intelligence agents were in the region then as well, disguised as ISIS “emir”s. They had invaded Shehba under the guise of ISIS.
“ISIS HANDED THE REGION OVER TO THE TURKISH STATE”
But they wanted to create an excuse to enter the region openly. I’m sure you remember, their entry was right after the Manbij victory. As SDF fighters hit ISIS in Manbij, here the Turks were busy making excuses. The Turkish media was preparing the grounds for this entry. They were serving stories like “Kilis to be hit any minute now”, “Missiles launched onto our territory from Syria”, “Missile hit Kilis”... They said all these “missiles” came from the Shehba region, so Azaz and Jarablus.
They thus prepared the grounds for the physical transgression to Shehba. Of course they had turned up the intelligence and counter activity inside Turkey even more. The Suruç Massacre, the murder of a whole Kurdish family in a suicide attack on a wedding in Antep, these were all preparations to enter Shehba. And thus they created an excuse.
They had made a deal with the Coalition Forces for this entry. They first agreed on 5 kilometers, then that increased to 10 kilometers and they entered with Coalition support. They took a large area like Jarablus in 2 hours, without any attack by ISIS, with zero clashes. Manbij didn’t fall for 72 days, while Jarablus was handed over in hours. The area from Jarablus to El Rai, a.k.a. Çobanbey, were handed over in 2 days. This openly shows that ISIS is the Turkish state and this is a trick of intelligence.
SDF fighters had taken Manbij and it was a matter of time before they entered Al-Bab after Manbij. SDF fighters had mobilized from both Efrîn and Manbij and they were almost at the area. Turks had sensed this plan and in a veritable race, they entered. The Coalition told them to stop at one point, but they struck a second deal with the Russians and turned towards Al-Bab. And they also took over Al-Bab without any fight. Everybody knows this. ISIS may have resisted a bit, but then they handed Al-Bab over.
The goal was to cut off Kobanê, Manbij and Efrîn from each other and give a message: They wanted to send a message that they have influence in Syria and without them there can be no projects, they should be a part of any possible outcome. They took advantage of the conflict between international powers and they made a deal with Russia.
So how is Turkey’s military presence in Shehba now?
The Turkish state entered Shehba and they actually invaded the region. What was their first promise? They were to enter Shehba, clear the area of ISIS and ensure safety, then leave Shehba to its rightful owners and exit. But now it is apparent that they haven’t ensured safety, nor do they have a plan to hand it over to local forces. They only developed their own bases. They positioned their own military personnel and the domestic security people they trained and brought in.
During this process, they brought in thousands of military vehicles and soldiers to Shehba and positioned them in Azaz, Mare, Bab and Rai. A significant portion of Shehba has veritably turned into a part of Turkey.
You are from the area, and are known to have a close relationship with other areas in the region. What do the people of Shehba think of this invasion?
The people of Shehba were supportive of the Turks’ first entry, as they saw it as being saved from ISIS. Because ISIS did really put a lot of pressure on the peoples of the region. The people hated ISIS and they were expecting a savior to come and clear the region. So at first, the people were positive towards Turks because ISIS was gone. But in time, the practices Turks implemented, the military bases they developed, the gang organizations, support for certain groups and disbanding of others, turning people against each other, turning individuals into gangs... When the people saw these things, they realized the truth. Now, the people of Shehba see that Turkey entered Shehba not to clear ISIS but to implement an invasion, and they are not happy about it.
But this is a weakened people left without alternatives. First it was the FSA, then ISIS, and for the last year it has been the Turks. They garnered support from certain military factions. They are providing them with material support and turning them into gangs to use against the people. The people are desperate about this, and the Turks are making themselves permanent there.
Recently, the Turkish state stockpiling military equipment in the area and their plans to invade Efrîn and Shehba’s liberated areas have been in the media and their plans were exposed. What is the reason for this? What do you think of this plan?
One of the fundamental reasons for this plan is to void the Raqqa operation. The Turkish state tried so hard to be part of the Raqqa operation and to leave SDF and YPG out of it, they played any tricks. They were almost begging the US, to no avail. SDF hit ISIS hard in Raqqa with support from the Coalition forces. They are implementing the final operation to liberate Raqqa. When all their efforts failed, the Turkish state started to look for ways to sabotage this and turn it over.
To do that, they are targeting Efrîn and Shehba, which they see as the belly of the dragon.
What do you think of the Turkish state’s military status in the region and their preparations?
There has been large scale dispatching and preparations for the last 20 days. They have positioned dozens of tanks and thousands of soldiers in Mare and Azaz, they still continue in fact. It is a matter of time before they attack Efrîn and Shehba, and the Turks are doing this in a serious preparation.
Now it’s entirely up to Russia. When Russia gives them the go-ahead, or when they retreat, Turkey can launch this attack. There are signals of the retreat. There is speculation in the media that Russia is retreating, even that they already did. Russia is silent in the face of these, they don’t issue any statements. Which makes one think.
Could Russia just up and leave at the last minute?
That is possible. Russia is also not happy with the developments in Raqqa. Because they couldn’t do it themselves, Russia could give the signal and make the Turks attack this region. Considering the developments, it is a possible scenario.
Of course the Turks didn’t bring all these forces in just to intimidate. When they claimed they entered the region against ISIS, and then turned towards Bab, they didn’t use 10% of this force. They can launch a large scale attack at any minute, and they openly talk about this.
How are your preparations in such a case?
We have prepared for everything, and we still do. We prepare our forces, we take positions.
But we are ready for anything in any case. We are prepared to retaliate any attacks in any way necessary. If the Turks enter here, they will have entered quicksand. It’s not so easy to delve into such pursuits to exploit, displace and murder a whole people.
Of course we hope that the international community including Russia won’t be silent in the face of this. Of course anything could happen. We prepare for all possibilities.
We are calling on our people and the general public, everybody should be aware. This is a war targeting the gains of the Kurdish people. It is a war started by the colonialist Turkish state. The war they waged on the Kurds in the North was not enough for them and now they are preparing to declare war on Rojava.
Of course they are planning to do this from Azaz and Idlib. They are also making preparations over in the Idlib side. The FSA groups allied with them, Ahrar Al Sham, could mobilize the forces they trained and organized in Turkey and positioned in Idlib against us. They are attempting to circle our forces in Azaz and Idlib to keep them busy and achieve fast results. They are thinking of acting according to this plan.
What will your stance be as the Revolutionary Forces against this attack plan by the Turkish state?
There is a silence in the general population and a tendency to perceive this as a media war. There could truly be an attack many times worse than the one on Kobanê, we are prepared for this but the public should be too.
Of course we as the Revolutionary Forces united headquarters stood against these many times. All their attempts have failed. Their will has been broken. When the gangs’ attacks failed, their boss father came along to give them morale and pick them up. And that is the Turkish state. This time around, the Turks want to test themselves.
Let them come. Our forces are motivated and our people are alert. Our own revolutionary forces are resolved to foil this trickery.
Grandsons of the Ottomans should never hope that they will see the light of day in Rojava. We will never leave our lands to them. They will not acquire new territory here. They should give up hope for certain.