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“I'll finish up the battle of Raqa if you do not kill me before”

Among the 400 fighters international have joined kurdish militias to fight the jihadists on its own caliphate there has been at least 25 Spanish. THE COUNTRY speaks with six of them

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“I'll finish up the battle of Raqa if you do not kill me before”

There are twenty-something, but majority are men over 40. All agree that y were images of Islamic State (ISIS, its acronym in English) massacring minority yezidi and kurdish which led m to change remote controller of your tv by a rifle. Among 400 fighters international have joined kurdish militias in Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS, have spent at least 25 Spanish. In front converge communists with practising christians, feminists with young university students and experienced workers. Have joined forces against caliphate, which has attracted up to 5,000 europeans, including 200 spaniards.

“re is No way to end Daesh [acronym in Arabic for ISIS] to military. Are crazy and re is no dialogue possible with m”, values in a videoconference Kemal, vasco, 44 years old. Speech sitting in door of an Internet cafe in town kurdish of Hasaka, norast of Syria, where it takes advantage of a short break after fighting in Raqa, cradle of caliphate in this country. Dress uniform khaki with patch on forearm of Protection Units of People kurdish (YPJ) kurdish, allies of Washington in fight against ISIS. It is now two years, alternating between Spain and Syria from that in summer of 2015, decided that “something had to be done to help such a handful of men to stop Daesh”.

The conditions of fight are very tough, and not all international resist. “You sleep in cuchitriles, without light, sometimes without water and without being able to poke head is not going to be that you fly a sniper”. He himself was wounded by shrapnel in leg during battle of Manbij, which along with of Kobani, Raqa and Mosul have led to biggest offensive war carried out against terrorists of ISIS. Has fought in three of m despite fact that I did not know weapons. “You give a workshop, and n little by little you learn at front”, he says quiet. In field has met and worked with special forces american, british, and French coordinated ground artillery fire and provide coordinates to planes of international coalition, led by Washington.

Two fighters spaniards in face of kurdish struggle against ISIS. THE COUNTRY

Kemal is one of few foreigners fighting in Raqa, capital of autoproclamando caliphate and whose days are numbered. “They are crazy but are very good at fighting, especially snipers.” For this fighter Spanish, final battle of Raqa seems to be more complicated because of amount of alleys and tall buildings in city, ideal for sight snipers jihadists, leaving a trail of mines behind. Just be informed that  ISIS has been able to sow corpses of humans and animals with mines.

The ideal kurdish attracts western women in fight against ISIS

N. S - Beirut

it Is equality between men and women who defend kurds, oversized in media with trail of images of fine fighters, kurdish green eyes, which has also attracted females westerners to its ranks. Among m, two are Spanish that work in civil framework, and in medical emergency in north of Syria. It is also case of Jabs, canadian of 21 years who has been more than two fighting in front line against ISIS. “I came to defend rights of women”. He left sawmill where he worked and with family support he traveled to Syria. “The threat was increasing with thousands of women slaughtered and raped. I had to do something,” says in a conversation through Facebook.

This same reflection was one that shook life also of canada, Hanna Böhman, bored of comforts of western life. In his 47 years he traveled to Syria to join YPJ. An experience that has transformed ir life in today, back to Vancouver, and from where he speaks on phone, it says to replicate in ir day-to-day slogans learned from kurds. Your stay was not easy. Lost 13 pounds during first three months in Syria. Something has happened to majority of foreigners who have had to adapt to lean diet of face. But to return to his previous life nor has been. Drag a post-traumatic stress that makes it difficult readjusting to normal life, that “plagued with priorities and concerns that today, I crave trifling”.

In its drive to fight 20 or foreigners, among m two or spaniards. Bower is youngest of trio hispanic to 25 years. This andalusian left university half a year ago to combat ISIS. “You have to maintain a consistency in life and if education is needed, I couldn't sit idly by without taking a stand on ground,” says phone. All military training that has been acquired in Syria with kurds. The hardest thing, he says, is to lose friends. “In morning desayunas with a partner, and in afternoon we see die. And you can't do anything... just to reassure him that he should not die alone.” Once finished with ISIS in Raqa, Kemal will return to ir chores and Bower to his studies, where it is proposed to give testimony of what he has seen “so that people will know truth.”

as was case with Spanish Civil War, syrian conflict has attracted hundreds of foreigners in ir ranks ideologically driven. Is encrypted between 400 and 800 westerners who have traveled individually to combat ISIS. At least 33 have died. Page Facebook The Lions of Rojava (The lions of Rojava, term kurds use to refer to region in which y pretend to be independent) was first to attract international through a simple email could enlist. “Each of us are funding your trip and once you arrive re YPJ welcome you”, says anor fighter Spanish that you prefer to keep your anonymity. All have to follow a training course in weapons and physical training but also on local culture and role of women. “With massive influx of volunteers, course has gone from two to four weeks and integrates a more important part of kurdish language and of concept of society y want to build,” says or an ex military man Spanish, which ensures that few can stand first month.

“The Daesh is enemy of kurds, but also mine and that of all. Could not sleep at night without doing anything”, also to phone and from outskirts of Raqa sniper gallego Arges Artiaga, 44 years old. This former military that worked in fish markets in Galicia, has undergone same metamorphosis that rest of ir fellow citizens after two years in Syria. “Now it has become something personal. I want to help this people in your project. I have lost many friends here and I feel that I am already part of this land.” Attacks against Turkey and Gulf monarchies who he accuses of “destroy this great country.”

he Was wounded in one eye some time ago. After a convalescence in Spain has returned to front for this time to be injured in an elbow when jumping of a building that ISIS surrounded m and caught on fire. Despite mishaps, Arges is determined to fulfill mission that brought him to Syria. “I'll End Up Raqa. If you do not kill me before,” she says before y cut line for umpteenth time.

Crossing constantly porous border between Syria and Iraq fighting also Simon, Spanish 47 years old and former military Special Operations Group, GOE III. Is defined as a practicing christian whose faith has led him to defend minorities attacked by ISIS from kurds to christians, yezidi or shia. “The tyranny of Daesh and lack of response from our government made me take decision.” 20 months ago, and fights with militia yezidi Protection Unit of Sinjar (YBS, by its initials in kurdish). Four or fighters Spanish have been added, and two of m have been recently arrested by Government, a kurdish Barzani.

For this old military, experience has been eye-opening. “Despite lack of media, kurds and yezidis are imposed on face of enemy based on motivation and ideology. Conquer or die is your motto.” Simon speaks of coexistence of multicultural and multi-faith as cornerstone of se people. But coexistence with or international also has left him much of a dent. “Here, hold up two profiles: guys over 40, as myself, who are already experienced in life, and kids of 20 with an ideological component, very strong,” he jokes. “But I was surprised to see how anarchists and communists here advocate churches, same that his co-religionists burned in Europe,” he adds.


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