BUENOS AIRES (Agencia Prensa Armenia)—Giran Ozcan works for the Kurdistan Solidarity Committee in Latin America; he arrived two months ago to Argentina and on Tuesday, Oct. 21, he was one of the organizers of a rally in front of the Turkish Embassy in Argentina to support the resistance of the Kurdish people in the Syrian city of Kobane, which is currently battling the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Turkish government.
PRENSA ARMENIA: Has the Turkish army been helping ISIS?
GIRAN OZCAN: There are a lot of reports on the ground. Maybe they are not directly helping them. There are reports of the Turkish army helping directly, but I don’t have any proofs of that. But I do have proof of the objectively way they have stopped the Kurds from carrying help, and there are a lot of videos of ISIS members crossing the borders.
P.A.: The same thing happened a few months ago in the Armenian town of Kessab. Do you think this is a policy?
G.O.: Definitely. ISIS is an organization that is closed to anyone other than itself. It is trying to make anyone believe what they believe, so anyone that doesn’t share the values that they share, I mean, if you could call them values, will either be killed or forcibly assimilated into their beliefs. This is true for the Armenians, the Kurds, the Yezidis and any other ethnic populations in the area.
The armed incursion began on Friday, March 21, 2014, at 5:45a.m., with rebels associated with Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, Sham al-Islam and Ansar al-Sham crossing the Turkish border and attacking the Armenian civilian population of Kessab. The attackers immediately seized two guard posts overlooking Kessab, including a strategic hill known as Observatory 45 and later took over the border crossing point with Turkey. Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages.
According to eyewitness accounts, the attackers crossed the Turkish border with Syria openly passing through Turkish military barracks. According to Turkish media reports, the attackers carried their injured back to Turkey for treatment in the town of Yayladagi.
Some 670 Armenian families, the majority of the population of Kessab, were evacuated by the local Armenian community leadership to safer areas in neighboring Basit and Latakia. Ten to fifteen families with relations too elderly to move were either unable to leave or chose to stay in their homes.
On Saturday, March 22, Syrian troops launched a counteroffensive in an attempt to regain the border crossing point, eye-witnesses and state media reported. However, on Sunday, March 23, the extremist groups once again entered the town of Kessab, took the remaining Armenian families hostage, desecrated the town’s three Armenian churches, pillaging local residences and occupying the town and surrounding villages.
Located in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kessab had, until very recently evaded major battles in the Syrian conflict. The local Armenian population had increased in recently years with the city serving as safe-haven for those fleeing from the war-torn cities of Yacubiye, Rakka and Aleppo.