The Women's Defense Units (YPJ) Commander Amara Şervan spoke to ANF on the anniversary of the liberation of Manbij. “There was a constant focus on displaying a female point of view in the Manbij war. The enemy was specifically directed at female friends,” she said.
Female commander Şervan evaluated the anniversary of the liberation of Manbij. “Why are we fighting, why are we waging an armed struggle? If we want to liberate a country, an oppressed people, we need to adopt an armed struggle as a tool. During the war in Rojava, our forces did nothing to violate the just war doctrine. We have a noble goal of liberating all parts of society whose will is destroyed. We thus launched an armed struggle against those who wanted to oppress the peoples. Our main motivation is how we can liberate our people with all their differences. Therefore, we have great willpower. We stick to these ideals in war. Our main thought in all of the military moves we have launched is how much life space we can liberate,” she said.
“One of the military moves we carried out was the Manbij Campaign. Manbij has strategic aspects. It is a city where our Kurdish, Arab people and other peoples live. The people of Manbij have a democratic culture and ethos. Organizations like ISIS or al-Nusra attempted to destroy the will of the people and establish their sovereignty by relying on their Islamic identity. In this way, they scared the people. They sought to prevent anyone from challenging them by committing massacres. We realized this mood everywhere we liberated. This situation genuinely bolstered our morale. The people were already waiting for us, they were even asking why we were late.
Our main target was Jarabulus. We decided to liberate Manbij so that we could take Jarablus.
Some of our tactics and military style yielded results in Manbij. Our basic approach is to fight according to the just war theory. It is not possible for a force that complies with the to just war theory to fail. And our war was not just a physical war, it was a war against a mentality. The main tactics of the enemy were placing mines, assassinations, ambush and blockade and breaking the will. We had a good coordination. We aimed at not harming civilians. Many innocent people were taken hostage. Dozens of children, women and elderly civilians were used as human shields in hospitals.”
'THEY WERE USING CIVILIANS'
Şervan also stated that ISIS used methods such as placing mines, assassinations, bomb-laden vehicles and mass attacks to which YPJ forces had a very harsh response. “They were attacking, but we never lavished the weapons we had. We acted patiently and systematically. We took care of places such as schools and hospitals. Moreover, we never damaged holy places, spiritual values of society. They were constantly using civilians. We came across mines almost everywhere. They planted mines and bombs inside many houses.
They damaged the material values of the people for their dirty interests. Of course, Manbij offered tactical advantages. ISIS would no longer have a chance to grow and become stronger if a city like Manbij was lost. Therefore, we carried out our operation meticulously until we completely liberated Manbij. The people suffered too much from them. Many children, women, innocent people became victims of this dirty war of ISIS, which is the enemy of humanity. When a few neighbourhoods remained in their hands, they tried to save the day by forming some alliances.
We did not pay heed to ISIS threats, but we are not a movement that aims to kill. Our aim was to liberate the city and its people. We opened a corridor to avoid further harm to the public. Thousands of them were dead and many other were wounded. They took some civilians hostage and detained them as they tried to escape using the corridor.
They had established a system based on fear. The people were happy when they heard that we had started our operation. They were waiting for us. Hence, ISIS held a huge grudge and hatred against the people. They killed many civilians. Our forces who fought there also fought a great battle of will. They never gave up. Enthusiasm and hope were abundant because we were the fighters who wanted to liberate a people. We adjusted ourselves to difficult conditions. We also had so many martyrs. Each death of a fighter led to a stronger and more determined participation, since we were dedicated to liberating the city and the people. This was the main approach of the fellow fighters from both Arab and Kurdish peoples. Their will was very strong, and so was their response to the attacks. There was such resistance during the war that lasted for three months.”
YPJ Commander Şervan also remarked that the stance of female fighters against those forces that ignored women and their will was a response to misogynist mentality. ‘Can a woman fight for her own land? Does a woman have willpower or not, can a woman struggle?’ Women gave genuine answers to these questions. Maybe we are now just talking about Manbij, but women gave these genuine answers in many former conflicts and wars. Comrades Arin and Avesta and Eylem Tolhildan and Koçerin became the greatest examples of struggle. The military tactics of our female friends differed in some respects from our general strategy. Women are more considerate in war as they are in life.
‘WOMEN'S WILL IS GROWING’
There was a constant focus on displaying a female point of view in war. The enemy was specifically directed at female friends. They wanted to take our female friends captive and impose their will on the freedom movement. In fact, the aim was to break the will of women. That was all their purpose. The enemy made many attempts to realize this. For instance, while comrade Koçerin was trying to save her injured friends, ISIS attempted to capture her. Koçerin carried out a self-sacrificing action there. This was not just to save herself physically, but to liberate her soul.
Her act showed that the will of women will never give up in the face of any force. The will, power and participation of women are growing each day because we foster our grudge and hatred to pay tribute to every martyred YPJ fighter or every woman who was martyred. Each of our bullets represents a woman's revenge. For this reason, ISIS was most afraid of women in Manbij.
ISIS fighters themselves admit this. Everyone wonders what gives women this strength and the will to fight. This is how the most beautiful women defeated the dirtiest men in the world. Comrades Eylem, Koçerin, Silava, Kurdistan were our pioneers, our commanders. They fought in the front lines, not taking a single step back. They have become a symbol for female fighters. Our female fighters have proved that where there are women, there is justice and women fight against hegemonic mentality, and the struggle against five thousand years of male domination never ceases.”