Children walk past tents on October 22, 2014 at the Suruc Rojava refugee camp in Sanliurfa
Children walk past tents on October 22, 2014 at the Suruc Rojava refugee camp in Sanliurfa © Ilyas Akengin - AFP/File
Children walk past tents on October 22, 2014 at the Suruc Rojava refugee camp in Sanliurfa
<
>
Fulya Ozerkan, AFP
Last updated: October 28, 2014

Hope dies last for Kurdish wife awaiting missing husband

Banner Icon Caught between a slim hope and agonising despair, Kurdish refugee Neriman waits in Turkey for news of her husband who disappeared five months ago fighting jihadists and is feared to be held in an Islamic State (IS) dungeon.

Caught between a slim hope and agonising despair, Kurdish refugee Neriman waits in Turkey for news of her husband who disappeared five months ago fighting jihadists and is feared to be held in an Islamic State (IS) dungeon.

Muhammed, 38, went missing in the early days of the Islamist offensive on the Syrian border town of Kobane, now the subject of a brutal battle between IS militants and Kurdish fighters.

Some say he was taken to a notorious prison controlled by the Islamists in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo but Neriman, aged 24 but looking far older, refuses to give up hope.

"It has been five months since we heard from him. We heard he is in the hands of IS. I don't know if he is alive or dead," she said.

"I only want to know if he is alive," said Neriman, wearing a headscarf and cradling her baby son in her arms.

"I did not give up hope from Allah. My heart says he will come back."

Muhammed was fighting for a Kurdish defence unit linked to the main Syrian Kurdish party, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), when jihadist militants began capturing villages outside Kobane earlier this year.

Neriman, who found sanctuary in Turkey with her five children almost a month ago, remembers the trauma back in her hometown when IS insurgents began the siege of surrounding areas before their advance inside Kobane.

She said her husband was fighting in a village named Zirava, 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Kobane.

"One day when he was there, he heard some noises from a nearby house and went to check together with his six comrades to find out what was happening," she said.

"He did not come back."

"They came across 60 IS militants. I was at home -- not very far from the front and hearing the sound of fierce clashes.

"The next morning, at around 7 or 8 am, his comrades turned up, but without him," she added.

"My husband's brother went to the scene of the clash. He found only his shoes."

- 'I'll be the first back' -

Neriman lives in a ramshackle school, now devoid of any students, in the Turkish border village of Yumurtalik.

The empty, one-storey building, overlooking Till Seir Hill which was retaken by Kurdish forces after a powerful US-led air bombardment last week, is divided into two with a wall in the middle.

One compound is home to 12 Syrians and the second to 20 Syrians, including Neriman and her five children.

Three separate makeshift camps are scattered in the garden of the building with each housing one family.

The front yard of the school is surrounded by a stone wall, where women and children kneel down for protection from stray bullets amid the sound of gunfire as the night falls.

Neriman said she did not want to settle into a refugee camp because at Yumurtalik she can both watch over the battle in Kobane and also control their vehicles being held on the Syrian-Turkish border.

The family have moved their animals and cars to the border, where her relatives wait so that they will not be stolen.

Her father, dressed in traditional dress and a turban, struck a hopeless note over Muhammed's fate.

"Witnesses say he is being held at an IS prison in the Aleppo province town of Manbij," said Abdullatif Ibrahim.

"I don't believe he will be able to escape alive from the hands of IS."

Neriman said both the People's Protection Units (YPG) -- the armed wing of the PYD -- and witnesses told the family her husband was being held by IS and was alive.

"I will be the first to go back to Kobane once the war is over," she said with determination.

blog comments powered by Disqus