After a Daesh (Isis/Isil) terrorist attack hit Qamişlo in Rojava (northern Syria) on 27 July, The Canary spoke to one inhabitant of the city. Explaining how the massacre clearly targeted civilians – at least 50 of whom were killed – our source also insisted that the key to stopping further Daesh attacks was severing the group’s links to Turkey.
The Turkish connection
Turkey‘s current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has consolidated his own power in recent months by courting both religious and ethnic chauvinists in the country, and has long been accused of serving as a “mediator and ally” for Daesh and other jihadis in Syria, either directly or indirectly.
When asked how Daesh could be defeated, our source in Qamişlo said very clearly:
Daesh is a mutation of terrorist organisations that were created by western states to limit and threaten states in the region. Now states like Turkey are threatening the European states and the west with Daesh. For it to be defeated, the support from these states needs to be stopped.
As The Canary‘s Nafeez Ahmed highlighted on 22 July at Insurge Intelligence, the Turkish regime has long formed a marriage of convenience with jihadis in Syria who oppose the secular, democratic, and Kurdish-led administration in Rojava. According to a captured Daesh fighter in the region, borders have been consistently fluid in areas on the Turkish border under Daesh control (in contrast to Rojava’s borders which have been blockaded ever since 2012). This prisoner allegedly told his captors:
There is an agreement between Turkey and ISIS… Turkey supports ISIS because it poses a threat to Kurds and they can use it against them… It’s not because [Erdoğan is] affectionate towards us or anything… He wouldn’t support us for a day if we didn’t fight against the Kurds.
Others in Qamişlo after the 27 July massacre suggested that the attack had also been facilitated by the inaction of the Assad government in Syria – which still controls a pocket of the city. According to Nasir Haji Mansour, who is an official in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),
The regime doesn’t want the Kurds to progress, they still don’t recognize the Kurdish rights. The regime is also angry with the successes of the [SDF]… It is possible that the regime gave information, or had information about the attack, but did not stop it… The Syrian regime has intelligence inside ISIS.
An SDF military operation aimed at closing the final link between Daesh and Turkey in Syria is currently underway. Starting at the end of May, the SDF encircled and entered the city of Manbij in northern Syria, which is still under Daesh control. The focus of defeating Daesh in Manbij is to cut off the group’s Syrian capital – Raqqa – from outside support (which allegedly comes across the Turkish border). This offensive has been covered recently in the western media, but with minimal focus on the progressive and democratic struggle of the SDF.
Civilians were targeted in Qamişlo but division is not the solution
Our source in Qamişlo told us how civilians were the main target of the 27 July massacre, saying:
The explosion happened in front of the Qasimo Mosque, where the Qamişlo uprising first began. The mosque was completely destroyed in the attack. Because the bomb-laden truck was so big, it would have been impossible for it to enter the road where the Asayish [the local security forces] are based, and that place is also far away from the main road. This shows that the attack targeted the mosque and civilians.
Speaking about everyday life in the city, he explained an environment of normality and unity between different ethnic groups:
Despite being a Kurdish city, Qamişlo also has an Arab, Assyrian and Syriac population. Although there are sometimes disagreements in general, life runs at its normal pace. People get up to go to work in the mornings and all social spheres and businesses are open.
According to the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), which is the most influential political coalition behind the Rojava project, this environment of multi-ethnic coexistence will not be destroyed by the most recent Daesh attack. It insisted:
Our people will give the most ideal response to these inhuman terror groups and the powers supporting them by strengthening their unity and further embracing the values of revolution.
The SDF assault on Daesh in Manbij is still underway.
Rojava’s democratic political project is still not officially recognised or supported by most western governments.
– See the full interview here.
– For more information and background on the situation in Rojava, see related Canary articles here.
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