Reportage from Syria | Between Isis and Al Qaeda, the Rojava that resists

“The war in Syria will end when we all have the same rights. And the road is still long, but we are not giving up ». These words were spoken by Aram Hanna, spokesman for the Syrian democratic forces, SDF, with a Christian majority. Together with the YPJ and YPG fighters and fighters since 2014 they resist the continuous attacks of Isis which, despite being repulsed, have never really been defeated. We meet him in the province of Al Hassakah, in the north east of the country. Here, in the Rojava region, Syrian and Kurdish Christians, Muslims and non-Muslims, control this territory trying to guarantee the population who live there not only protection but also a project of a fair and equal society. A dream that not only Isis, but also Erdogan’s Turkey and Assad’s government do not look favorably upon.

In Tal Nasri in early October, ISIS militiamen supported by mercenaries from Turkey entered the village destroying everything they found in their way, including a Christian cemetery that was desecrated. Destroying places of worship, attacking cultural symbols and monuments has been a consolidated practice on the part of Isis since the beginning of its violent action in Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, the population is suffering, even water is lacking, given that Turkey, with its system of dams, drains the most important and indispensable resource. Many villages have emptied, like that of Tell Shnann, also with a Christian majority. About fifteen thousand people are housed in a refugee camp organized by SDF and Kurdish forces in this same province. Not equipped at all, the condition of those who live there is very hard. The pandemic, Covid, has worsened the situation and attempts are made at least to vaccinate as many people as possible. Here no one dreams of not wanting it or of protesting because they are offered the vaccine. On the contrary, the problem is to find it.

Meanwhile, further south, in Idlib, in what was the capital of Isis in Syria, on the road leading to Raqqa, Al Qaeda carried out an attack on the night of Friday 15 October that caused the death of four Turkish soldiers. A much disputed city, since the conflict began that all the actors on the ground have tried to make their own due to its strategic position, it is one of the most insecure places in the entire country, or what remains of it. The presence of Al Qaeda not only worries civilians but suggests that a certain type of political offer has its own “market”, and in this moment of reorganization of Isis, what was Bin Laden’s creature is trying to relaunch itself here too. If Isis aims at a great Islamic emirate, Al Qaeda aims above all to destabilize and seek new followers. In the middle there are those who instead dream of a life in peace, millions of people who have been dealing with uncertainty for almost ten years now. Kurds and SDF remain in fact the only ones who really oppose the two terrorist organizations.

Among the many stories that are gathered in this tormented land there is also the drama of the many who are kidnapped by these same organizations who then ask for ransoms from families who in most cases do not have the money to pay them. Thus these prisoners are in turn sold as slaves of the modern era. Women mostly end up in brothels, especially in Turkey or the Emirates, men are forced either to fight their own brothers or locked up in prisons like there are so many around here. In the market of terror, the drama of the many men who are forced to have sex with the female fighters of the Islamic State is added to the many atrocities that this land has seen consummated. They are the Emirate’s answer to the Kurdish fighters, about whom there has been so much talk and who now seem to be out of fashion. Forcing these men to have sex with the women of Isis is also a way to ensure that they can have many children who then, in the macabre design of those who command them, will go to reinforce the ranks of those who will have to guarantee continuity to the cause, in the years.

“What happens in Syria goes against all logic. The “rape” of men is something that had never been seen – say the spokesmen of the Kurds and SDF – not even in the first part of the conflict when it seemed that the Caliphate could have the better had heard of things like this. We realize that it seems incredible but the war and its atrocities have accustomed us not to be surprised at anything anymore. Only here in Syria could such a thing happen ». A completely different fate, instead, touches the militiamen of the Caliphate who are captured: «We are waiting for a decision by the international court to understand where to send these people, but nobody wants them. There are prisoners of at least eighteen different nationalities, mostly Europeans. But none of the countries they come from wants them back, ”they conclude.

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