Dresden, Stalingrad, Warsaw… If you imagine those cities, all you see is destruction. In Kobani you don’t have to imagine anything, you see the reality right in front of you. It’s tangible and everywhere. The city paid a high price for its freedom; there is wreckage as far as the eye can see.
Kobani lies in the north of Syria, in the Kurdish region of Rojava, in Kobani Kanton. Eighty percent of the city was destroyed in the fighting between the Islamic State (IS), which occupied the town last year, and Kurdish militias YPG/YPJ. The city was eventually retaken with the help of allied air raids and NATO.
Kobani is neither big nor important, but it has become a symbol. A symbol of war, symbol of resistance against terror and a symbol of courage. There weren’t many defenders of the city and they faced a force of well equipped Islamists, used to fighting.
In the spring the first inhabitants began returning and started renovating the city. The humanitarian situation in area is very bad. The water has to be delivered (the pipes bringing water from the Euphrates are damaged), and there is no electricity. People have to pay for water. Most schools have been destroyed. Seven provisional schools should be open by the end of September, But that still doesn’t satisfy demand.
The people, with the help of the local government, started clearing the debris. The land mines hidden underneath the ruins are a big problem too. So far over 130 people have died. Those who have returned, live in houses, which are partially destroyed.
There are only a few international humanitarian organisations helping locally (MSF Holland, Handicap International, Concern and WHH Germany). The biggest problem is the rehabilitation of water supplies, electricity, schools, de-mining the town and preparing the inhabitants for the winter which can be very cold in Kobani.
Femisfera members Lenka Klicperová and Markéta Kutilová spent ten days in Kobani as part of their three week journey to the north of Syria. It was this journey that became the basis of their decision to help the people of Kobani. To help those who decided not to flee to Europe, but who wanted to help their country to stand on its own feet again.
The money from the collection will be used in cooperation with the government of the Kobani Canton. The use of the financial resources will be meticulously controlled by members of Femisfera. Lenka Klicperová and Markéta Kutilová will give the collection their personal patronage and will guarantee a purposeful use of all the financial resources collected.
The Battle of Kobani
On September 13, the Islamic State started advancing closer to Kobani. Not directly into the town, but Islamic State had taken the surrounding villages. Kobani Canton has three hundred and fifty of them. In the end Islamic State took them all. The people didn’t wait to die and the majority managed to escape to neighbouring Turkey. But despite that, dozens of civilians still lost their lives.
The terrorists attacked from three sides, using heavy artillery technique. They came with tanks, and armoured cars. “Some came from Turkey, and that proved to be the death blow. We saw Turkish soldiers looking at Daish’ tanks attacking a Syrian town, we have it on video,” remembers local journalist Baran Misko.
In the first wave of the attacks there were around four thousand IS fighters of various nationalities, including Europeans and Russians of all age categories. The lightly armed YPG and female YPJ fighters didn’t stand a chance against them. By October, the Islamists controlled three quarters of the town. “We battled for every meter of streets, every house, often man against man.”
However, they managed to slowly defeat the Islamists. When in October the YPG and YPJ started losing hope, an YPJ fighter, known as Amir, blew herself up in front of the Islamists’ strategic place and killed ten of them. Now she is the most popular martyr and posters and pictures with her face on it are everywhere.
Finally the heavily armed Peshmergas from the neighbouring Iraqi Kurdistan and fighters from the Assad opposition – the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – came to help the YPG/YPJ. In the end the deciding factor was the allied air raids, bombing the IS positions, although at the beginning the US hesitated, because they didn’t want to irritate the Turks. Kobani was liberated on 27 January 2015, but the struggle is not over yet.
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