Spanish al-Masdar News has interviewed a Spanish young man, who wished to stay anonoumous for security reasons. He wished to be named ‘Comrade Martos’. Not long ago, he went to Kurdish territories in Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS.
The interview below has been translated into English, as such some minor mistakes might occur:
How has been your stay in Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan]?
“Very tough, but very nice too. The Kurds welcomed us in a great way. They are people who always worry if you need something, and they also like to have international people who support them. Also they appreciate, when politically minded people like us go, because there are many cases of Christians who do not really go to fight for them [the Kurds]; they only went there to fight against the Islamic State.”
Why did you decide to go to fight there?
“As a militant of PMLRC [Spanish communist party], I have always worked with the Kurds, and when I saw a public call made to aid the Kurds, I found it interesting and also a way to help in a more effective way.”
What was the first impression that you had when you arrived there?
“First we arrived to Iraq and what we saw was an exaggerated capitalism. There, the streets were full of trash and many beggars; meanwhile, there were two five star shopping centers. Then, when we got to Rojava, the situation was just the opposite. What I saw was people living happily and hardly any beggars in the streets. Folks there were helping each other!”
How does ISIS conduct combat? Does it correspond to what they show in their propaganda videos?
“Not at all. They attack especially during the day, because the only views with thermal they have are the ones that they steal when the Peshmergas retreats leaving everything behind. The attacks they launch are practically suicidal, because many people are farmers, foreigners, children or elderly… Practically they send them to die. They are not organized as a regular army.”
And how do they [ISIS] treat the population when they capture areas?
“I can put you the example of Shengal (Sinjar) where we were and where people told us what happened during occupation. They were in total three days. The first day, ISIS attacked, and Peshmerga abandoned all weapons, ammunition, tanks and other equipment given by the United States. When they entered, they took all the followers they could have. The second day the new ISIS militants were given training, and the third day they were forced to slaughter the entire population that were non-Muslim. They left civilians dead across the street, children with their feet cut and bleeding to death…”
Are they dedicated to make psychological warfare?
“Sure. They propagate terror so people become frightened and hand over their village without fighting as to prevent being slaughtered by ISIS. Normally, [Kurdish] fighters keep grenade or a bullet on them as to avoid capture; this way, ISIS can not use you in their propaganda such as they do with the pilots or soldiers captured.”
Is there anything from your trip that had a big impact on you?
“One day, ISIS launched an attack on us because Turkey cut one of the rivers that come from its territory to give them free passage. Three Kurdish comrades died while defending the position. One of them was a comrade of mine who was planning to come with us. Really, that’s what stayed with me.”
So, ISIS attacked you from Turkish territory?
“I can tell you that when we were on the Turkish side of the border, we could see an Islamic State camp nearby. And that was within Turkish territory.!”
How has been your return to Spain?
“For my [communist] comrades I have found a good reception, but by the Spanish state, I found that after a week of arriving, I was already in jail. The High Court accused me of belonging to a terrorist group; while ironically, the Spanish state itself has collaborated with the YPG and PYD.”