Flight from Kobani ~ by a resident of Latakia, Syria

“Here is my KOBANI story:

Jehan is a widow who has lived in Ayn Al Arab for 15 years. The western mainstream press insists on using the Kurdish name for the place, Kobani. They want to establish that the area is Kurdish, not Syrian.Regardless of ethnicity, the country it is located in the Syrian Arab Republic. Jehan was born in Aleppo. Her father was a Syrian Kurd and her mother was a Syrian minority from the coastal area. Jehan grew up in a broken home, her parents divorced, because her father’s sisters refused to allow him to be married to a minority woman. The family pressure broke the marriage up, even though there were 3 small children involved. By Syrian family law, the children were made to remain with their father in Aleppo, and his former wife returned to her family at the coast. Finally, the divorced woman re-married on the coast and started a new family of 3 children with her second husband. But, she never forgot her children in Aleppo. Over the years she would find ways to telephone or visit them. Her former husband was very kind and generously allowed her to visit, after all he knew the reason the marriage broke up was not her fault, it was his side of the marriage contract which was broken. The 3 children grew up and Jehan married a Kurdish man, like her father. They moved to the Turkish border region, Ayn Al Arab, also known in Kurdish as Kobani. Her husband was an auto-mechanic. He wasn’t wealthy, but they had a steady income and owned their own home and repair shop. They had 5 children closely spaced. Then he got sick and died, leaving Jehan with 5 children under the age of 10.

Between what her husband left her, help from his family, and help from her brother working in Aleppo, Jehan was able to survive and raise her children. It did help that her home was paid for and that she raised some vegetables around her home in a small garden. Her mother continued to visit her over the years. Then the Syrian crisis began in 2011. Jehan’s younger half-brother living on the coast needed her help. His wife was a school teacher, and the Syrian government had posted her initially in a rural school not far from Jehan. He contacted his older half-sister and asked if his wife could sleep at Jehan’s home, because when the 2011 crisis began, the Syrian rebels had gangs which were traveling around rural areas and massacring minority female teachers. It had occurred enough to put the nation into panic. Jehan allowed her sister in law to remain in the safety of her home. From the coast to Ayn Al Arab it is a full day of almost non-stop driving. If you rely on the train and then getting off to take a bus, you are looking at a travel time of more than 12 hours.

Finally, the trains stopped working because the Syrian rebels had bombed and attacked so many trains, that it was no longer safe, or even possible to ride the rails anymore. In the end, the Syrian educational system had to suspend the system of sending teachers from the coast to rural areas. It was no longer safe for teachers or students. The Syrian rebels made sure that it was the unarmed civilian population who suffered the most at their hands. This is part of the reason that the Free Syrian Army never developed a following, or a support base among the Syrian residents. They were not attacking and killing the Syrian government, they were attacking and killing unarmed civilians going to work, sleeping in their own home, and going to school. It was only a matter of time that the Free Syrian Army was actively inviting in and making alliances with Al Qaeda terrorists in order to gain more fighters, as their own numbers were so low. They had made the locals hate them so much, because of suffering, and they could never hope to win their revolution on their own.

In June 2014 Jehan’s son was due to register and take his final 12th grade exam, called in Syria, “The Baccalaureate”. This exam is so vitally important, because without that degree and high marks you can not get into the Syrian University system, which is free of charge. Also, it is necessary in order to find a civil servant job. Jehan arraigned with her mother, living in safety on the coast, for her son to stay with his grandmother and take the exam there, under safe conditions. His exam went well and he enjoyed being on the coast with relatives he had heard about, but had not seen in years.

Suddenly, the world’s focus was on Mosul, Iraq and ISIS attacking and massacring minorities there. People were being driven out of their homes and people were dying of thirst and injuries. If the destruction and suffering in Northern Iraq was not bad enough, the focus then shifted to a small village on the Syrian-Turkish border, Ayn Al Arab, aka Kobani.

Why would ISIS want Kobani? Was there oil or gold there? Why would a small place like Kobani be important? There is no strategic value. Mosul is an important city in Iraq. But, Kobani is nothing in comparison. Could it be because Kobani was inhabited by Kurdish people? Turkey’s government hates the Kurdish people, and we have seen Turkey has refused to attack ISIS in Kobani, even though they sit and watch the fighting from the safety of 100 tanks. Why would Turkey refuse to help USA in their battle against ISIS? Possibly Turkey has supported, promoted and worked with ISIS.

Jehan and her children left Kobani and are now safe in Areeha, Syria. They did not want to go North to Turkey. Many of their neighbors did in fact go to Turkey, but some received a very cold welcome. Some were attacked and tear gassed by Turkish security forces. Jehan and her children are still safe in Syria, and receiving free medical and free educational access. Only time will tell how long they will be refugees in their own country.”

Latakia, Syria.

Photo: Kobane refugee children.

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