Watching Kobane

27/11/2014 § 1 Comment

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The fireworks of Bonfire night lit up the sky as I flew out of London. But now, just a few days later, the dull blooming lights on the horizon are accompanied by more deafening booms, and more deadly consequences.

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The explosions are met with a burst of cheers from the crowd gathered a couple of kilometres from Kobane. An old man leaves the warmth of the fire to point out that the fighting is going on in the east of the city, where the next day in the daylight the black flag of ISIS can be seen flying high.

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News has filtered out that ISIS fighters are being pushed back, unable to resist the newly arrived Peshmerga heavy artillery and US airstrikes. Singing deep, tremulous Kurdish folk songs, those gathered around the fire are in buoyant mood. Not joyous. That will be saved for the day when every dusty street in the city is once again in Kurdish hands.

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But solidarity is not the only thing on the minds of those gathered at the camp. Worried by news that Turkey is aiding ISIS, they have come here, and to other sites along the border, to look for and record any suspicious activity.

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Evidence is mounting that Turkey – happy to aid the enemy of its old Kurdish enemy – has been supplying ISIS with arms and allowing its fighters to cross back and forth into Turkey.

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But the border is less permeable for the Kurds. One young man leans in and tells me in a low voice that he will join the fighters as soon as he gets the chance. His frustration at being stuck this side of the border is visible. But so are the Turkish tanks creeping along the border carrying those willing to use lethal force to stop Kurds joining the fight.

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Earlier in November, a young Kurdish woman was shot in the head as, with fellow activists at her heels, she rushed the border in an attempt to make it to the besieged city.

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For now, the young men and women will have to be content to keep the their elders company, scanning the border, and willing the fighters on.

 

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You are currently reading Watching Kobane at MUSTACHES AND KALASHNIKOVS: Stories from Kurdistan.

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