A Kurdish voice from Kobane’s battlefield

A Syrian-Kurdish fighter flees Kobane’s frontlines from a battle he says they are fighting alone.

A lot of families had to leave their homes only to save their girls, writes Syed [Getty]

My name is Mohammad Syed and I’m a former fighter with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northern Syrian town of Kobane.

I was forced to leave Kobane and arrived at Yumurtalik border crossing on October 4. I arrived with no money in my pockets and no personal belongings, no clothes, no shoes. Just one large packet of cigarettes. I don’t need much.

I never carry anything with me these days anyway. I don’t need to – not since I joined the battle against those terrorists. In the same way that I don’t need to take anything with me into battle. My fellow fighters and I would all look after each other and we shared whatever food was available.

I was one of the very few older men engaged in the fighting but I have a strong heart and strong body. The younger boys and the older men, we are all the same. But then again, I am 65 years old. They thought I am an old man so they sent me here. I don’t mind going back but I won’t be able to do much in the fight. It’s a little tougher now – tougher than it was before. There is too much pressure and I can’t make quick decisions anymore. The boys work fast. They are very strong.

Syrian Kurds desperate as ISIL advances in Kobane

Although I want to be there with the others, I don’t want to hold them back either. I don’t want them to get into trouble because of me. Maybe sometimes I am slow and can lag behind. The boys are much stronger.

I am originally from Aleppo but I had to leave when ISIL arrived. It was horrible. We saw horrible things. ISIL is so brutal, even Satan himself would cower. They kill people in their homes. In some places, we saw blood streaming from homes. The red blood of humans, our brothers, innocent people.

It’s then that I decided to join the YPG, to help fight against ISIL in any way that I could. I want to rid the world of this evil.

I went to Kobane, to stay with relatives who gave shelter to me and my family.

During the fighting, we heard many times that Turkey would eventually step in and help. We heard the US would intervene. Some said that Europe would probably join too. But days passed, and nothing. We’re still waiting. And this was even before ISIL advanced towards Kobane. We had hope then that we would fight hard now, and then help would come. We didn’t have enough weapons. But the Kurds are brave.

Young boys and girls are fighting. Have you ever heard of girls fighting anywhere? But our girls fight. And many of our girls have died fighting. One young girl was captured by ISIL. Do you know what they did to her? They beheaded her. A woman. They beheaded a woman. Then they threw her body in the water. She was a strong girl.

A lot of families had to leave their homes only to save their girls. In Aleppo, ISIL used to come and take our girls. They raped them, they they killed them. The daughter of my dear neighbour, she did not want to fight them, but they killed her too.

In Kobane, they’ve killed many women fighters too. They are barbarians. They don’t care if it’s a woman or a man. They are not Muslims. This is not how Muslims behave. I am Muslim. I could not even imagine committing such barbarous acts.

I left Kobane before things got even worse. My relatives chose to stay but they are in trouble now. They don’t want to come to Turkey. We don’t hear good things about our people in Turkey, you know. But I was willing to risk that, so I came here. I sent my family to Turkey a few days before, so now I am on my way to join them.

Mohammad Syed is a former Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighter from Kobane.

This testimony was transcribed by Kiran Nazish at the Yumurtalik border crossing.