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Turkey Capitalizes on Afghanistan Distraction to Attack Kurdish Forces in Syria

1 37 1
20.09.2021

Zeynab Serekaniye was not a hardened soldier. The 26-year-old joined the all-female, Kurdish-led Women’s Protection Units, or YPJ, just nine months ago. Since the Islamic State was largely defeated in Syria in 2019, daily combat had ceased, so Serekaniye spent much of her time at her base in Tal Tamr in northeast Syria making tea for the other female fighters or reading their fortunes from leftover coffee grounds. But at night, one of the women always stayed awake to listen for the buzz of drones in the sky from their main adversary, Turkey.

When I interviewed Serekaniye for a piece about the YPJ published in the Guardian in July, she said she’d been a tomboy, growing up with four brothers. She said she never planned to join a militia, but that living in a country with increasing conflict and a growing occupation by Turkey had made it a necessity.

“It’s very difficult to see your country occupied by someone else,” Serekaniye said. She wore utilitarian clothing and liked to carry her Kalashnikov slung over her shoulder. She walked with a limp from an injury she’d gotten during training. But her earnest, often goofy manner betrayed any sense of toughness. She never saw battle.

Zeynab Serekaniye was not a hardened soldier. The 26-year-old joined the all-female, Kurdish-led Women’s Protection Units, or YPJ, just nine months ago. Since the Islamic State was largely defeated in Syria in 2019, daily combat had ceased, so Serekaniye spent much of her time at her base in Tal Tamr in northeast Syria making tea for the other female fighters or reading their fortunes from leftover coffee grounds. But at night, one of the women always stayed awake to listen for the buzz of drones in the sky from their main adversary, Turkey.

When I interviewed Serekaniye for a piece about the YPJ published in the Guardian in July, she said she’d been a tomboy, growing up with four brothers. She said she never planned to join a militia, but that living in a country with increasing conflict and a growing occupation by Turkey had made it a necessity.

“It’s very difficult to see your country occupied by someone else,” Serekaniye said. She wore utilitarian clothing and liked to carry her Kalashnikov slung over her shoulder. She walked with a limp from an injury she’d gotten during training. But her earnest, often goofy manner betrayed any sense of toughness. She never saw battle.

On Sept. 1, Serekaniye was killed by a Turkish drone strike while making tea in Tal Tamr. The strike was part of a recent wave of Turkish attacks on Kurdish forces that have killed at least a dozen civilians in Iraq and Syria, as well as high-level militia members—including Serekaniye’s........

© Foreign Policy


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