Two YPJ commanders killed in Turkish drone attack in Qamishlo

Two senior members of the YPJ, Sorxwîn Rojhilat and Azadî Dêrik, were martyred in the Turkish drone attack on a facility for the war-disabled in Qamishlo on Sunday.

The drone attack by the Turkish state on a facility of the Federation of the War-Disabled in Qamishlo on 11 February resulted in the death of two senior members of the Women's Defence Units (YPJ) as well as several injuries.

In a statement on Monday, the YPJ Command announced that the victims were Sorxwîn Rojhilat and Azadî Dêrik, who were among the commanders of the YPJ in North and East Syria. YPJ condemned their killing in harsh terms and vowed retaliation, expressing its condolences to the relatives of the martyrs, the peoples of North and East Syria and all revolutionary women and fighters.

According to the statement, Sorxwîn Rojhilat was one of more than 20,000 people wounded in the fight against ISIS in northern and eastern Syria. She was born in 1985 in Makû, a city in eastern Kurdistan (western Iran), and her family belongs to the Celalî tribe - a family confederation that, according to the YPJ, has always "rebelled under the banner of resistance against the occupying forces and has not wasted a thought on surrender". Sorxwîn Rojhilat was thus inherently in the tradition of women such as Shirin Elemhuli and Zeinab Jalalian. The latter has been imprisoned by the Iranian regime for 16 years and is the only prisoner in the country with a life sentence. Elemhuli was an activist in the Kurdish women's movement when she was executed in 2010 after more than two years in prison.

Sorxwîn Rojhilat came to Rojava in 2014, when thousands of people from many different countries flocked to Kobanê to take part in the defence of the city besieged by ISIS. In the course of the offensive, she became part of the YPJ Command and played an important role in the Kobanê resistance. She was seriously injured in an attack by the jihadist militia and lost most of her sight. After a long period of recovery, she helped to set up structures for the war-disabled and was also a co-founder of the Federation of the War-Disabled. According to the YPJ, Sorxwîn Rojhilat did not limit her work to helping the war-disabled, but also devoted herself to solving social problems and was involved in projects to promote the equal participation and development of women and girls.

Azadî Dêrik was born in 1982 in Dêrika Hemko in Rojava. She grew up in a family close to the Kurdish liberation struggle and joined the YPJ with the emergence of the Rojava Revolution. "From the first moment of the revolution to the last moment of her life, Azadî Dêrik took the line of self-defence as the basis of the struggle to which she dedicated herself according to the principles of the revolutionary people's war. She was a fighter for freedom and a pioneer at command level. With her humble attitude and dedication to the revolution, she was seen by many as an example of the militancy of a free woman," said the YPJ.

YPJ stated that Azadî Dêrik worked at the centre for the war-disabled at her own request. She made sure that the war-disabled were provided with physiotherapy treatments, wheelchairs or prostheses and that people with amputations received sustainable help. "She improved the living conditions of her comrades and coordinated the public relations work of the federation, which she had co-founded. She was also responsible for coordinating international aid projects that benefit those wounded and disabled in the war in North and East Syria."

YPJ emphasized that attacks by the Turkish state such as the one on Sunday in Qamishlo serve to support ISIS. By bombing the facility, Turkey is guilty of another war crime, the association declared, and called on the international community to break its silence in the face of Ankara's "genocidally motivated crimes". "Sorxwîn Rojhilat and Azadî Dêrik carried out their resistance against ISIS terror not only for our peoples, but for all nations of the world, but first and foremost for all women. This is why our appeal is primarily directed at the women's liberation movements. They are called upon to take a clear political stance against the attacks of the Turkish state. We promise our people and all emancipated women revenge. The AKP/MHP fascism should know that the YPJ is a force of retaliation. We will keep the fire of freedom that our comrades Sorxwîn and Azadî have ignited with the slogan 'Jin, Jiyan, Azadî' burning until we have destroyed the hegemony of male domination everywhere. We reaffirm our solidarity with the martyrs and promise to realize their ideals."