Jan Pulat, head of YPG Media Office. Photo: ARA News
ARA News - Exclusive
Qamishli, Syria – Kurdish military forces of the Popular Protection Units (YPG) are dominant in several Kurdish-populated areas in northern Syria since summer of 2012. The YPG’s affiliation with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its allied forces of the Assayish (operate as security forces in Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria), beside the practices of its leadership, raised various questions which ARA News directed to one of the YPG’s officials in an attempt to bring a clearer image to the audience and provide the YPG with an opportunity to clarify their position on several issues.
Pulat Jan, head of the Media Office of the Kurdish forces of the Popular Protection Units in Syria (YPG), emphasized in his interview with ARA News that the issue of children recruitment to fight in the ranks of the YPG has been “exaggerated”.
“Media has inflated this issue. We admit that few cases of underage recruitment (by the YPG) happened at certain areas but without our knowledge.” Jan said. “The YPG always tries to adhere to all international covenants and customs. We are the only military power in Syria which stick to certain laws concerning the minimum acceptable age of our fighters.”
Talking about tracking the defected militants of the YPG or even punishing their families or asking them for an alternative, Jan said: “It is a silly blurb. All our leaders and militants are volunteers. However, when someone wants to leave, he should apply a formal resignation form and deliver his weapons and supplies to his troop leader. Otherwise, it will be a military violation.”
Jan responded to some media reports which talked about the kidnapping and arresting practised by YPG against many politically and intellectually different people and critics, with charges of betrayal, espionage and drug dealing, saying: “We defend our people and national institutions against any armed or military power. We have nothing to do with political disputes or leaders, even if they have different political, intellectual or ideological opinions, as long as they do not support our armed opponents or resort to criminal behaviours or participate in conspiracies against our forces.”
Talking to ARA News, Jan justified the kidnapping of some citizens and activists in YPG-held regions. “There are some sleeping or sneaking cells that cause problems in our areas, such a thing also happens in developed countries with highly qualified defence and security institutions.”
“We are the only power in a geographical region manipulated by all international intelligence; many of them try to disturb the Kurdish people and demolish the secure and stable situation in Western Kurdistan (Syria’s Kurdish areas),” Jan said.
Being asked about recent processes of exchange of hostages with Islamist groups in Syria, Jan refused to answer, stressing that such information can only be obtained from the leadership of field operations in the YPG.
Regarding the clashes between the YPG and Islamist militants in Tel Brak town in Qamishli environs, northeast of Syria, and handing the town over to locals after controlling it, Jan told ARA News: “Our fighters did their best to bring peace to Tel Brak. If we want to liberate this town again from ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or Shabiha (pro-Assad militia) or any other force, this will not be difficult.”
According to the head of YPG’s Media Office, the Syrian regimes never attacks headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) “simply because there is no conflict between them”.
“We are trying to regain control over ISIL-held Kurdish areas, and our forces have achieved remarkable advance recently,” Jan said. “We will never give up until defeating ISIL extremists and expel them completely from our areas.”
Concerning the disputes over the YPG’s control in some areas, Jan said: “We, as the military power of Western Kurdistan, protect everybody and we want them to support and recognize and join us as well as to respect our sacrifices. Everyone can advice and suggest to us and even criticize us constructively, but not to try to dominate us.”
According to Jan, the ongoing Syria conflict will last for many years “since none of the conflicting parties seems willing to participate in a political solution”. “We are all forced into the battlefield to protect our families.”
“Unfortunately, the real decision in no more in the hands of the Syrians, but rather in hands of regional and international powers,” Jan argued.
As for the Kurdish issue in Syria, Jan argued that Kurds “should not wait for solutions by outsiders, as they always did”.
“This is the moment for Syria’s Kurds to build a shining future for the coming generations. The Kurdish people must overcome all the constraints caused by dictatorship and establish institutions to protect their rights by themselves. We will not allow any group to rule us by force anymore,” Jan stated to ARA News.
“Syria is being divided into small states; so we have to prove ourselves and gain the official or semi-official or even a real recognition from world’s power centers. We need also to build relations with the democratic Syrian opposition based on mutual interests and acceptance,” he added.
“We will never practice marginalization and exclusion on other social components because we suffer a lot of such practices ourselves, and we can best understand what it means to be suppressed as a nation,” Jan concluded.
Interviewed by ARA News