Syria: With Anastasia Popova through the wild Kurdistan

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Sideviews
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Al-Qamishli, from where Anastasia Popova and the Vesti-Team have reported on Sunday, is located about 100 kilometres east of the Turkish border town Ceylanpınar or the Syrian town Ras Al Ain, where attacks by the Syrian air force with about 2-3 injured on the Turkish side were reported the day before yesterday and yesterday.

In the report it is said that apparently the day before these incidents in this area, “a full regiment” of “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) fighters were pushed back by the Kurds while attempting to cross the border.

Therefore, the Kurds must be in the control of Ras Al Ain, as in the entire area from there to the east. Theoretically, the Kurds could have also requested the air support in the defence against the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA). However, if Turkish ambulances evacuate injured rebels even from Syrian territory, according to the reports, so directly from Ras Al Ain, then the border in this area is, at least, full of holes.

That the Kurds wall against the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) is no wonder: they were a Turkish project already from the beginning of this crisis. When Anastasia Popova is able to report out of Al-Qamishli, so it can be concluded that the Kurdish regions, as it was previously only to hear by rumours, are actually largely free from rebel gangs.


The border crossing in the Kurdish city of Al-Qamishli is already closed since a long time, but when one moves from there only a few hundred feet, the border looks already like this. In all its permeability, however, the city is inaccessible for the rebel bands of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA); the local residents have taken the protection of the city into their own hands.

According to a contract from 1998 between Syria and Turkey, the border between the two countries is not guarded by the armies of both countries, but only by the armed forces in Turkey. These are in turn involved that again and again new units of the armed rebels are entering Syrian territory.

In order to protect themselves against this seemingly endless flood, the Kurds have established vigilante groups. There is a strict organization in these groups, they have also their own symbol and own uniforms.

Shevan Hussu:

We have established checkpoints, we have spies and informers everywhere, and at night we go on patrol with cross country vehicles and we ensure that no rebels come across the border. Just yesterday, we have arrested a few armed men and put them in jail.

At night, shots are hearable along the border; the rebels are trying to penetrate into the semi-million city of Al-Qamishli, already for the second day – so far without success. 100 kilometres west of Ras Al Ain, an entire regiment of rebels came across the border from Turkey, and they were also repulsed by the Kurds.

The Kurds have also taken the villages Al-Darbasiyah and Amuda under their control; they asked the security forces of the Syrian government to leave these cities.

Aldar Khamil, representative of the Supreme Council of the Kurds:

We have agreed it with the Syrian army. They do not interfere in our affairs, the army is not on site, but even if the army would be here, we would have nothing against it – it is their land. The terrorists, who penetrate up to here, are not from here. The ones we saw were all foreigners. They are constantly under the protection of the Turkish army, and when they cross the border, they get plans and support by the Turks for this.

The relations between the Kurds and the Syrian government were rather difficult in the last 40 years, but many are still grateful that Syria has granted asylum to the Kurdish national hero and PKK leader (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) Abdullah Öcalan in the 90ties, and also rejected to hand him over to Ankara, what had almost led to a war with Turkey at that time.

At the beginning of the current crisis, the Kurds were awarded with the Syrian citizenship by the President Bashar al-Assad, and in the new Constitution of the country, they are officially recognized as a national minority, with all rights to maintain their own traditions.

They call their television studio themselves an underground studio; it is a reporter office of a European television channel, which broadcasts in Kurdish language. Five people – that’s the whole editorial – produce a whole series of programs. In addition, also a weekly newspaper in Kurdish is published in the city, as well as magazines and children`s books. The print shop is located in a private home.

Ali Rosh, Publisher:

We write the articles ourselves, we print and distribute all on our own. The circulation is not large: 10,000 copies. Everything one needs is a computer, a printer and some money.

In the city there are two powers: the official and the one of people. Both are active, they do not interfere in the affairs of each other. The bourgeois self-administration of Al-Qamishli consists of 15 “People’s Houses”, who are subordinate to the central parliament of the Kurdish people.

This is elected for 2 years; the mandatory quota for women among the delegates is 40 percent. At the People’s Court, judgments are spoken by the councils of elders under taking into account the customs and traditions of the accused. In the prisons, there is a psychological care for detainees.

Abu Muhammad Yusef, residents of Al-Qamishli:

Already for the sixth day, there is no petrol, we stay overnight here in the queue and we are not able to work. The taxis are standing still and nobody is able to give information on when the gasoline is delivered.

With all the desires for political independence, the Kurds economically depend heavily on the Syrian state, communication lines and power come from other provinces, petrol and city gas from Homs and Aleppo, but the freight is often stolen by rebel gangs on its way.

Kovan Tarsu, taxi driver:

I am convinced that the problems come from the Turkish government. It wants to eliminate the Kurds, anywhere in the world. That’s why it is interfering in our lives now. Whatever was in the past, we are above all Syrians, then Kurds. Therefore we are going to defend our homeland.

Between three and four million Kurds are living in Syria. Worldwide, according to different sources, there are between 30 and 45 million Kurds, which makes them to the only folk with such a large population that has no state of their own.

In the Syrian conflict, the Kurds emphasize their neutrality: they are neither for nor against the Syrian government. They aim at autonomy for their people, but always emphasize that this autonomy should only exist inside Syria.

Anastasia Popova, Yevgeny Lebedev, Mikhail Witkin. Vesti from the Syrian-Turkish border


  1. Souri says:

    Terrorist attack in Al Mazza

    In collaboration with

    Just received information about a terrorist attack in the Al Maziya. We go to the scene, try to get on the air! See the live broadcast in the near future.

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