Ehmed: Defending Rojava means defending humanity

Newroz Ehmed from the General Command of the SDF underlines the importance of global resistance against the Turkish attacks and says the SDF and the people are prepared for a ground attack.

Newroz Ehmed from the General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) talks about preparations against an imminent Turkish ground attack in the autonomous region of northern and eastern Syria in an interview with ANF, saying: "We are fully prepared for a possible ground operation considering our experience, preparation and the morale of our forces compared to previous periods."


The Turkish state's attacks on northern and eastern Syria continue. Looking at the record of the attacks so far, civilian casualties outweigh, and the infrastructure of the region is the target. How do you assess these kinds of attacks? Is Turkey targeting civilians because it cannot hit the military forces?

The Turkish state has never stopped its attacks on the region. But in the last week, the attacks have been greatly expanded and attacks of the highest intensity have been carried out with heavy weapons, drones as well as fighter jets. Just at a time when the Ukraine war is on the agenda and the world is interested in this war, the Turkish state seizes the opportunity to intensify its attacks. It has used the situation to put pressure on Russia, the USA and European countries. These countries are also under pressure because of the war in Ukraine, and the Turkish state has received concessions from these countries. The Turkish state took advantage of their interest-based policies as well as their silence and expanded its attacks. Although it claims to protect its territory within a radius of 30 kilometers according to UN Article 51, its attacks on Syrian territory have already exceeded a frame of 60 kilometers. At the same time, the Turkish state has increased the intensity of its attacks against Rojava, claiming that civilians have been killed in Turkey - although it is still not clear to us, at least, who is behind this.


As a result, the civilian population was attacked in Rojava. People were deliberately targeted and killed when they tried to help the victims. The places bombed are mainly civilian settlements. Not because the Turkish army could not target military forces, but because it deliberately attacks the civilian population. This has already been expressed several times in the media. The infrastructure of the region, facilities that serve the population, power plants, schools, hospitals, oil fields and refineries have been hit at a time when the cold season weather conditions are intensifying and people are facing a humanitarian disaster due to the difficult conditions. Nevertheless, the Turkish state has targeted infrastructure. Wheat storage facilities have also been targets.


In other words, every place that a people need for their future is targeted. The idea is to make people leave the region. They are meant to be forced to flee by being deprived of the possibility to survive here. Despite the use of thousands of bombs against the region, despite so many attacks by drones and fighter jets, there is great silence against this. In Ukraine, only one power plant was attacked and the world rose up. States took action against people being left without electricity, put it on their agendas and even went so far as to impose sanctions. But everyone is silent about the situation here. If the Turkish state has intensified such attacks, it is because of this contradiction. This reality must be recognized. We are ready to fulfill our responsibility and clarify the allegations made by the Turkish state, but everyone should make an effort and be vigilant about the Turkish state's plans.


What is the situation in view of the attacks? Is there a ground attack? Are there areas that will be targeted in a possible ground operation, or is the whole region the target?

The attack continues in all its ferocity. If the silence on the attacks of the Turkish state continues, it will expand its attacks even more. The first step will be the 30-kilometre line that has been talked about at every opportunity. This has been clearly expressed by the Turkish state in recent days. But the attacks do not only affect one region. Turkish state representatives themselves stated that they would invade gradually and named several regions. Maybe they will not target the whole region, but they want to occupy the whole area, advancing step by step. Their plan is to create a safe zone for themselves, i.e. to occupy the whole region. Our preparations against a possible ground operation have been completed everywhere. Our people must also be prepared for such an attack. This has been on our agenda for a long time and we are ready for a ground attack. We have stated several times that the attacks will not be limited to just one area. The Turkish state's approach is not to attack only one region. Attacking only one area will destabilize the whole region. Many forces are using this situation to strengthen their position in the region and take advantage of it. Recently, they have increased their presence here and they are trying to gain supremacy. Many forces, especially ISIS, are taking advantage of these conditions.


How are you preparing for a possible ground operation?

Our military preparations are very good. Compared to previous periods, we are ready in terms of experience, preparation and morale of the forces. Looking at the picture that has emerged over the past week, we can see that there is great enthusiasm and morale in terms of the strength of our defence forces, their potential to defend their country and the people, and their responsibilities. Our preparations are more comprehensive than before. Our defence forces have always been in a war position, but now the preparation for war is more intense. Of course, the attitude of the people towards the attacks was of the utmost importance. At every opportunity, they supported the resistance of the defence forces. Thus, the courageous attitude of the people was always a source of morale for the defence forces and helped them to take a stronger position. Within the framework of the people's revolutionary war, the people and our defence forces grew together. Just as the people and the defence forces acted together in Sheikh Maqsoud, Kobanê and in the attack on Sina Prison in Xiwêran, we are experiencing this situation now. Our people are on the side of the defence forces, not behind them. They have proved this in the past trials. Our people have proclaimed this message. There is a strong unity. We are stronger than ever before. We will repel the attacks in a unity of people and military forces.


Parts of NATO bombs were found in the munitions used in the bombings. There are also rumours that an agreement was reached with Russia. So, it seems that the international powers authorised these attacks. Have you had any discussions with these powers on this issue? What is your attitude regarding the international powers?

We have had many talks on these issues. Turkey is a member of NATO and its policy is well known. Military equipment used by the Turkish state cannot be used without NATO's approval. NATO ignores the practices of the Turkish state. It agrees with it that there is a threat to the existence of the Turkish state and that Turkey has the right to defend its existence. If you look at the forces supporting the Turkish state, the amount of support, the help with weapons, technology and ammunition, it is clear that these attacks against our region and our forces are considered legitimate. The states turn a blind eye to the attacks with these weapons and ammunition and the massacres against our people. This is the role that NATO is playing right now.

It is interesting that the Turkish state justifies the attack with the murder of a child and a teacher, which, by the way, we have nothing to do with, but in our region so many civilian settlements are bombed with weapons provided by NATO, civilians and children are massacred, and nobody reacts, they just keep silent. We look at this situation in terms of existing policies and interests. We think that a stronger and clearer position should be taken. It is claimed that talks are being held so that the Turkish state does not expand the attacks, but since no strong stance is taken, the Turkish state is encouraged and expands the attacks. Therefore, the attacks cannot be considered separately from the attitude and silence of these powers.


Damascus government forces have also been targeted in the attacks. So far, the Assad regime has not responded. How is Damascus dealing with the attacks, or how should it deal with them?

The attacks are not only directed against our forces. They are directed against the entire Syrian territory. The Turkish state itself says that it will invade 30 kilometers if there is danger. It talks about Raqqa and many other regions. There is a comprehensive attack plan for the entire Syrian territory. It is a plan aimed at gaining dominance over Syrian territory, and we know that this plan is historically based and dates back to the Ottoman period. For this reason, the Turkish state is not only targeting the Kurdish people, but poses an existential threat to all people in the region. Villages of the Arab and Syriac populations have been targeted; we can list many more such examples where the attacks are directed against Syrian territory, the peoples living in the region and especially against the Arab peoples. Therefore, a tougher stance must be taken. The current attitude of the Syrian government does not oppose the attacks, its situation is obvious. Therefore, the attitude of the Arab countries is very important. According to the Turkish state's plan, all Arab peoples and countries are the target. In view of this reality, the stance of the Arab countries must be firm, strong and clear, and strong support is expected. We are also holding talks and cooperating with the Syrian government in this regard. Government troops are on all border lines. Many Syrian army soldiers have been wounded and killed in the areas under attack, but the government's stance is still weak and insufficient. The Arab countries and the government in Damascus must stand united against Turkey's plan and the attacks.


The region's defence forces play an important role in the fight against ISIS. What are the implications of the current attacks for this fight?

Due to the success and continued joint fight with the international coalition against ISIS, it is noteworthy that our defence forces, who provide security for Hol Camp and the surrounding area, are being targeted. The prisons where ISIS mercenaries are held and our security forces have been targeted. This is a planned and deliberate attack. Our special forces working with the coalition have also been attacked. Friends have lost their lives in this attack, there have been killed and wounded. The Turkish state is carrying out these attacks deliberately. Not only the SDF, the AANES and the people in the region are targeted, but also the fight against ISIS. The Turkish state expresses this time and again. With these attacks, they want the international troops to withdraw and all the work so far to be in vain, they want all the ISIS mercenaries held in the prisons to be released, they want them to spread out and free their relatives. The Turkish state wants to revive ISIS, which is already benefiting from these attacks. We have information that ISIS wants to organise and strengthen itself further here with the attacks of the Turkish state and that there will be attacks on the region. For this reason, the Turkish state has particularly targeted these places. This seeks to end the presence of the international coalition and to neutralise the results that have been achieved together through long work. This is a very dangerous plan. The Turkish state is already saying this openly. It is a question of how it can put its plans more into practice and apply them in practice. If the attacks continue like this, we cannot continue the fight against ISIS. It is not possible to continue the fight against ISIS under such bombardment and drone attacks. The international powers are aware that the attacks are giving a new chance to ISIS, but they are silent. Such an attitude cannot prevent the attacks. On the contrary, the attacks keep increasing. 

Prisons holding ISIS jihadists and Hol Camp have been attacked. What is the current situation in the prisons and camps where ISIS jihadists and their relatives are held?

As we have already stated, we will do our duty in the face of these attacks. As we promised our people, we will fulfil whatever is asked of us, and we have prepared for this. However, it is a challenge to protect the prisons and Hol Camp from such attacks. Eight of our members were killed in the attacks on Hol Camp. Despite all these difficulties, we want to keep the ISIS mercenaries and their members under control. Because we know that this danger threatens not only the people in the region, but the whole world. Of course, we will do our best. But if the attacks continue like this and become even more violent, it will not be possible to protect them.

How will these attacks affect the fight against ISIS?

Our priority is to defend our people and our country against a possible ground attack. Our armed forces are carrying out their tasks along the entire border line. We can never say that all our focus and strength will be on ISIS. Because, of course, that will be difficult. We do not have the strength to fight both the Turkish state and ISIS. Therefore, the attacks will affect and weaken the fight against ISIS. If it continues like this, ISIS will use these attacks to reorganise and return to its former dangerous form. We have said it many times: this is the goal of the Turkish state. It is openly putting this plan into action. Silence is helping it to do so. We are concerned about this and tell the whole world that everyone must take a stand. The protection of the mentioned places is also the responsibility of all world powers. We take this opportunity to reiterate that we take our responsibility. 

How will cooperation with the population work in the event of a possible attack? What still needs to happen?

Our people are a source of morale and strength and have shown their attitude during the attacks. They also have a lot of experience with attacks. They have gained a lot of experience in how to defend themselves and protect their achievements and their country. The attitude of our people during the attacks means that no one can scare us and force us to retreat. Our people know their duties and responsibilities. On this occasion, we welcome and appreciate the people's resistance.


Protests are being organised all over the world under the slogan "Defend Rojava". People from Kurdistan and their friends are permanently active. What role should the global public play in the face of attacks?

We welcome and thank our people and our friends again for their attitude and the protests under the slogan "Defend Rojava, defend Kobanê". Despite all obstacles, people poured into the squares at midnight to defend our people, our autonomous administration and the defence forces. A clear stance was taken. People have embraced the values of resistance. It is important to participate in this spirit, to embrace the revolution, to embrace Rojava, to embrace humanity, just as we stood together for Kobanê and Shengal back then. Of course, this requires a multi-layered struggle. Our people and their friends have shown this attitude of struggle in many areas.