1. Two civilians take tinned food for the Kurdish fighters in the eastern districts. One holds a rifle in case of sudden encounter with IS gunmen in the streets.
© Heysam Mislim
1.	Two civilians take tinned food for the Kurdish fighters in the eastern districts. One holds a rifle in case of sudden encounter with IS gunmen in the streets.
Last updated: November 9, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Photos inside Kobane – resistance grows under siege

Banner Icon The city of Kobane (Ain Al-Arab) in the "Rojava" region of Syria has been under siege for nearly two months now. Your Middle East's Rozh Ahmad and local Kurdish photographer Heysam Mislim offers a rare glimpse into life under siege.

Urban guerrilla warfare between Islamic State (IS) jihadists and the Kurdish resistance fighters continue raging across much of the inner districts on a daily basis, mounting the number of causalities on both sides.   

Around 250,000 civilians have reportedly fled to Turkey's Kurdish southeast. 

More than one thousand civilians, however, refuse to leave convinced that living under siege is itself a "defiant resistance" against IS onslaughts.

Photo above: This is the western frontline near Iza'a area where YPJ women fighters have advanced but now YPG moves in to take their positions so some of the fighters can take a rest.
Photo below: Many young boys shave their hair to prevent diseases but this boy rejected shaving his hair, saying; "I want to have a nice haircut. OK I know I may die, but I want to look nice when I resurrect."


Heysam Mislim, a Kurdish journalist based in Kobane, said: "Indiscriminate bombardments and shelling by IS gunmen perpetually continue destroying parts of our city into rubbles almost unceasingly. However, more than one thousand civilians have refused to leave Kobane because staying despite all the difficulties has now turned into a kind of resistance against IS attacks."

Photo: Shepherds herd some of their sheep that they've managed to rescue to the rear
of the Kurdish frontline.

According to Mislim, civilians believe that the IS gunmen are attacking to capture Kobane in order to annihilate the Kurdish project in Syria.

“Thus, living under siege is a defiant stance in the face of IS attacks, although the Kurdish authorities keep telling everybody to evacuate Kobane to safe areas near the northern Kurdistan (southeast Turkey) border or cross into the Kurdish city of Suruc (in Kurdish Turkey)," he explains. 

Photo: "Playing our traditional music and singing to keep up morale is my contribution
to the Kobane resistance," said this local musician after he played a song about
the Kurdish women fighters.

60-year-old Salim Bozan said he decided to stay inside besieged Kobane with his wife, two sons and three grandchildren even though his family relatives all fled Kobane two months ago.

"Just like our relatives we also had the choice to either abandon our city that defines our existence or stay in defence of our life here. I talked to my wife, children as well as my daughters in law and we all together agreed to stay so we continue our lives and help the resistance too," Bozan said. 

Photo: A Kurdish civilian family live at the back of their pickup truck near the northern checkpoint controlled by YPG fighters.

"My two sons are fighting inside the buildings of the inner districts and they have not seen their children for weeks now. My daughters in law help at the makeshift hospitals. My wife and I along with our grandchildren help with whatever needed in the central district. We are no exception because this is how every civilian live inside Kobane. If all civilians left and our city aggressively turned into a restricted war zone, then that is a win for the IS gunmen. We will never allow that to happen. It could happen, but only over our dead bodies."   

Photo above: This YPJ fighter stationed inside a building near the Sina'a district, said:
"We are not frightened by IS gunmen and we ululate in joy when we attack them in
these buildings. We are fighting them from one building to another."
Photo below: These children spend their days helping some of the shepherds and playing with the animals near the northern checkpoint.


Photo above: Children spray-painted the walls with slogans in support of the resistance, but now they scratch the walls to make graffiti because they have run out of spray paints.
Photo below: "This was an old family rifle. I carry it with me at all times in order
to fight whenever needed," said this woman standing with one of her grandson.


Photo above: "My wife and I stay with our grandchildren and we will do

whatever needed to protect our grandchildren and help the resistance too,"
said this man standing with his grandchildren beside him.

Photo above: This is central Kobane shattered by IS artillery shells and bombardments.
Photo below: An elderly woman pray sitting permitted in Islam only for those who cannot stand because of illness. She is in the middle of vehicles the civilians have turned into makeshift shelter.


Photo above: YPG and YPJ Kurdish fighters sleep in the streets of central Kobane holding out against IS offensives. "Kalashnikovs, cigarettes and blankets are the accessories needed to continue the hold out," said the YPJ fighter collecting the blankets.

All photos (some taken with a smartphone) by Heysam Mislim.

Rozh Ahmad
Rozh Ahmad is a journalist based in Paris. He grew up in England but has his roots in Iraq’s Kurdish region. In the last three years, Rozh has reported from and about Kurds in Europe, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria for various English and Kurdish publications.
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