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LOUDER THAN BOMBS
In September of 2014, ISIS attacked Ayn-el Arab on three fronts. Before the civil war in Syria, the city was under regime’s power and was a part of Rojava and ruled by the Kurds of PYD – Syria.
With strategical importance due to the territorial integrity of the Rojava cantons, Kobane carried political meaning for Kurds in Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Before attacking Kobane, ISIS had blockaded the city in three fronts by occupying Tel-Abyad in east, Jarablus in west and Sarrin in the southern region. People living in these territories were refugees who had escaped from ISIS. Including these civilians who arrived in Kobane, it’s thought that the population in the city was just below 200,000.
The attack to Kobani was unexpected. Against the three-way sudden attack of ISIS and it’s heavy weapons and labor force, the YPG was the only armed force. They were few in number and only had light weapons, and the only backup could come from the Turkish border gate. During these days, the Turkish government dogmatised that YPG couldn’t be helped and closed the border gate. Later on, Turkey added YPG to the terror list. However, they opened a new gate in Yumurtalık location and let the civilians pass to Turkey. Approximately 7-10 thousand of civilians a day entered Turkey from that gate, aside from the number of people that had fled the war earlier. Civilians passed the border from minefields by demolishing the barricades. It took 1 month for ISIS to arrive in the city, and during that time nearly 200,000 civilians had already fled to Turkey. The city was emptied. When October came, ISIS had enclosed the city on 3 sides within 5km.
The civilian war lasted for months and resulted in the YPG’s victory, with the aid of collision’s air forces. But the city has become a ghost town where it is impossible to live. Kobane blockade of ISIS influenced region’s demographic structure deeply — more than 200,000 people no longer have a home.