Smoke rises from shelling in the Syrian town of Kobane as a Turkish tank stands guard at the Turkish-Syrian border, in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, on October 9, 2014
Smoke rises from shelling in the Syrian town of Kobane as a Turkish tank stands guard at the Turkish-Syrian border, in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, on October 9, 2014 © Aris Messinis - AFP/File
Smoke rises from shelling in the Syrian town of Kobane as a Turkish tank stands guard at the Turkish-Syrian border, in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, on October 9, 2014
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Fulya Ozerkan
Last updated: October 11, 2014

Kurds mourn in Turkey for Kobane battle 'martyrs'

Banner Icon Clutching a bloodstained napkin used by her brother just before his death, a young Syrian Kurdish woman mourned for the 23-year-old killed while defending the key town of Kobane from Islamic State insurgents.

The young man was killed fighting alongside People's Protection Units (YPG) against Islamic State (IS) jihadists for control of the mainly-Kurdish Syrian town, just over the Turkish border.

"We heard he was injured after a bullet hit him in the head," 26-year-old Berivan Seyhahmet said, looking at the grave of her brother buried in the Turkish town of Suruc overlooking Kobane.

"At first, his injury was not life-threatening, but he kept bleeding after he was held at the Syrian-Turkish border for four hours by the Turkish army," she said in fury.

Turkey has tightened security of its porous Syrian border after the escalating fighting in Kobane sparked the exodus of 200,000 refugees across the frontier.

Many civilians fled Kobane which was declared a battle zone following the start of street clashes between YPG fighters and IS insurgents who seized control of a third of the town, despite air raids by the United States and coalition forces.

Turkey also fears the standoff around Kobane could lead to the creation of a Kurdish fighting force overlapping the Turkish and Syrian borders.

The Syria-based Kurdish fighters of the YPG battling IS militants have links to PKK militants who have fought the Turkish state for the last three decades in an insurgency that has claimed 40,000 lives.

The funeral of seven fallen Syrian Kurdish fighters in the Turkish border town united Kurds in Suruc. The crowd, drawn from across Turkey, vented their fury at lack of support for the defenders of Kobane.

"Kurdistan will be a grave for fascism!" the Kurds shouted, wearing yellow-red-green scarves as they attended the funeral.

- 'He called one last time' -

Gathering around the grave to bury their dead in a cemetery just 10 kilometres (six miles) from Kobane, the mourning group surrounded an imam speaking in Kurdish through a loudspeaker.

"Many lives were lost. The heroes of Kurdistan will not give up on Kobane," the imam said in an address to the cheering crowd.

"We salute the martyrs. We will leave the enemy deaf and dumb.... I am calling on all Kurds. Now is the time for unity!" The funeral ceremony was also attended by pro-Kurdish politicians.

Seyahmet said she last spoke with her brother the night before he died.

"The sound of gunfire was clearly audible from the other end of the phone. It was around 11:00 pm. It was like he felt that he was going to die," she said.

"He called to receive our blessing the last time."

His mother, who looked about to faint during and after the funeral, could barely be carried to a car by her relatives.

"He was speaking boldly in our last telephone conversation when he said 'All the bloodshed is not in vain and God willing, Kobane will not fall,'" said the mother, who fled to Turkey three weeks ago.

"I told him to be brave," she said with a desperate look on her face. She said she had another son, 18, fighting for Kobane.

Another Syrian Kurd from Kobane, 31-year-old Ahmed, had come to bury his cousin who he said had also died in the battle.

Until his death, the cousin had given the family daily updates about the battle for Kobane, he said.

"He told us in an uplifting voice that they were resisting to push back IS."

Ahmed, who crossed the border after being wounded, said he wanted to go back but that he was not allowed to join the fighting because of his injury.

"Civilians were packed in the western part of Kobane near the Turkish border. Turkish soldiers are not helping at all, (they are) accusing us of being terrorists," he said.

"Kobane is sacred to us, Kobane is Kurdistan of the Kurds and the freedom of all Kurds. No matter what happens, I will get back," he said.

"Life is not good in Turkey. It is not our soil."

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