'If we don’t, who will?' Kurdish fighters smuggled across border to join Kobani struggle
“As they set off on their perilous mission, the few kilometers that separate us from Kobani could prove to be the most dangerous of their lives,” RT’s Paula Slier reported from the Turkey-Syria border.
The fighters move carefully, under the cover of night, and with
several tactical plans to remedy potential complications in the
journey. “If we don’t go to protect Kobani, who will?”
one Kurd told RT before illegally crossing the border under the
cover of night.
“Sometimes it can take one to two hours, but it really depends on the situation. If we see a patrol, we hide, we wait until morning,” Simcor Karamoch, who oversees smuggling operations, told RT.
The Syria-Turkish border town has been besieged by IS fighters
who still have control of large parts of it. However, Ankara has
so far been reluctant to let the Kurdish fighters into Syria.
Turkey is currently harboring some 200,000 refugees who have been
moving in the opposite direction in order to escape the conflict.
Karamoch spoke of how to overcome the problems crossing borders in conflict zones, such as how to apply continued pressure to a mine you may have accidentally stepped on.
“When you know something has happened, ask one of the others to bring a stone," he said, imparting potentially life-saving advice. "Use a belt to swap the stone for your boot, then run.”
Another smuggling tactic is pretending to border guards that they are trying to escape Kobani if intercepted en route. “If Turkish police see us, we say we are from Kobani, and we forgot something in our house and are trying to get to it – usually they beat us and let us go.”
“But if ISIS catches us, they cut off our heads – no question about that.”
The same tactic of lying about the side one was trying to get to was used by people attempting to cross the Berlin Wall to the West.
Additionally, Kurdish fighters have introduced a password system to remedy narrow misses. A “security word” which has to be repeated three times is used to identify fellow anti-IS fighters.
“They must give you the security word. If they don’t – shoot them, they could be your enemy,” Karamoch said.
Legitimate troops are also being sent to the region to fight IS militants. On Tuesday, Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Moslem told Reuters that some 150 peshmerga (Kurdish-Iraqi) forces were crossing into Turkey to eventually head to Kobani.