Kobane Diary: Joy, Sadness and Struggle in Town Under Siege

Kobani diary
Veysi Altay

Heysam Mislim is a local journalist from Kobane who chose to stay and report on the story of the courageous Kurdish resistance to ISIS in the town on the Syrian-Turkish border.

18 October 2014

I didn't get much sleep in the night because I heard bombs falling all around Kobane until this morning. I counted 57 explosions until dawn. It is not true that ISIS fighters have been driven out from Kobane as some news outlets have claimed today. The safe corridor has not yet been opened between Kobane and Turkey. The Turkish soliders still do not allow people to freely leave or enter. The people of Kobane do not trust the Turkish government to open or supervise a safe corridor. The Turkish border guards are shooting at the backpackers who bring medicine and tinned food into Kobane.

When people see the airplanes flying above Kobane they jump in joy. Some of the very old people who've stayed behind inside Kobane think that the planes are named 'Obama', so when they hear the planes flying above Kobane they shout: "Oh, Obama has arrived to kill ISIS." The airstrikes are effective in the way that it helps the fighters on the ground to rest a little on the frontline, as it halts the firefights for a while. The reality is that if the world wants ISIS destroyed then these determined, capable Kurdish fighters must be armed with heavy weapons on the ground.

19 October 2014

ISIS initiated offensives from all fronts into Kobane last night. They have been resupplied with heavy weapons too, because in the past couple of days the bombings were not as constant as today. Ululation is used in Kurdistan to express joy at celebrations such as weddings. But the YPJ women fighters are using it when they fight. The ISIS gunmen shout "Allah u akbar" but Kurdish women ululate in joy against ISIS. When ISIS hear that women are fighting against them then they feel degraded and ashamed.

Foreign airstrikes hit several ISIS positions today, two of which were the biggest I have seen. One hit the ISIS-controlled security HQ and killed 15 gunmen. However, the biggest hit the Sere Quarter, built by the French between 1925-1930. It was considered a beautiful part of Kobane, but today the airstrike turned the entire area into rubble.

Beside all this, today is a sad day for me because I have lost my cousin, Bangin Berio, 24, a third-year university student. He was a humble, intellectual guy whom we called "book worm". An ambulance took him to the border crossing to take him to Northern Kurdistan (part of Turkey) for medical treatment. He needed to quickly undergo blood transfusion. The Turkish border guards made the ambulance carrying Berio wait for a couple of hours, he died right at the border crossing. I will never forget him.

Kobani fighters
Veysi Altay

20 October 2014

The Kurdish people and the Kurdish fighters are very happy in Kobane today because American planes have dropped weapons, ammunitions and medical supplies to Kurdish-controlled areas in Kobane. However, it is said that they are not US supplies; the Kurdish authorities in Iraq had sent them. It was very good feeling knowing that we are not alone in this fight.

The Kurdish snipers who returned from the buildings of the frontline districts said that more YPG snipers have been stationed across the buildings to keep ISIS gunmen as far away as possible today, so they do not destroy this wonderful happy feeling in Kobane.

I can understand why people are so ecstatic today about these supplies. This is because the supplies mean that Kobane is not alone and that Kurds elsewhere care about this resistance.

Now, it is true that great gains could be made with these new weapons and ammunitions within the inner districts for three-four days, but what next when the Kurdish fighters run out of these ammunitions as soon as the fighting intensifies?

The medical supplies are really good too, but what about the equipment needed to make surgeries for the critically wounded inside Kobane and what about medical professionals?

In Focus

Pictures: Inside the Siege of Kobane

A collection of photos from inside Kobane, the city on the Syrian-Turkish border under siege by ISIS by Kurdish photographer Veysi Altay
Launch Slideshow 21 PHOTOS

So, it is good that we received these supplies and I am also happy about this just like everybody else, nevertheless, I still remain a skeptic because nobody knows whether these supplies would continue to provide this resistance the needed support on a continual basis.

ISIS gunmen are attacking Kobane with US-made weapons that they have captured from the Iraqi army in Mosul of Iraq. The Kalashnikov rifles of the Kurdish fighters are not enough to adequately counter the heavy weapons ISIS are using.

When YPG/YPJ fighters on the frontline kill ISIS and capture their weapons they are really happy because the weapons are new and advanced, such as the M16 rifles and high-tech sniper rifles. Sometimes these Kurdish fighters capture explosives from ISIS positions but they do not know how to use them and they joke about it, saying: "Guys, how about killing ourselves with these weapons."

But half of this joke is real; it is true that they could kill themselves with explosives they capture from ISIS because some of the Kurdish fighters are not trained to use some of those Western-made explosives that the ISIS gunmen are using for their assaults on Kobane.

Hope is now evidently seen in the eyes of the civilians and the fighters in Kobane. Some of the elderly men and women burst into tears in joy when they heard the news that the Kurdish fighters have received these supplies. Nonetheless, it is the international community that must be sending supplies next and the supplies should come on a continual basis because this way ISIS will be defeated in Kobane and the defeat of ISIS here is a defeat for ISIS worldwide.

Read Part 1 of Heysam Mislim's account of the siege of Kobane here.