After his accounts of the YPG training camp, Arthur tells us about his first experience as an YPG-fighter involved in the liberation of Mansoura.
East Front of Raqqa, August 12th 2017
It’s been over two months I haven’t written any personal account! Sorry for that, but after leaving the YPG-training academy, one event followed the other. I took part in the liberation of Mansoura, in the suburbs of Raqqa, beginning of June and from that moment on I have been constantly engaged in front line operations.
A feedback on what happened is more than necessary.
May 21st I integrated a tabûr (fighting unit) of Kurdish “cadros” - fighters who committed themselves to the armed struggle for the rest of their lives, I will tell you more about them in another article – in order to replace a hurt comrade.
All happened in an incredible rush. Within less than an hour I had to decide whether I would accept this posting or not. Only a few minutes earlier, while finishing lunch, I had been wondering what to do on such a day… now, there was just enough time to pack my stuff, and off I went in a white pickup truck heading towards Tabqa!
Objective: Mansoura, the final step before Raqqa
Tabqa had been taken from Daesh ten days earlier, and it was a major issue considering the siege of Raqqa. This is because, besides the city, the SDF had also gained the control over the most important hydroelectric dam of Syria.
But, when I arrived in Tabqa I couldn’t find my tabûr : they had gone to a village nearby. I had to wait five days before they came back. Less than an hour after we met, we were on our way to the front line. Our objective: Mansoura, the last little town before the Western neighborhoods of Raqqa.
So, I would eventually face the men of Daesh. What did they look like? This question haunted my mind, even though, as you know, I’m here more for the social revolution, than to shoot at jihadists. The media – and Daesh’s own propaganda – had framed a picture of fighters all in black, caricatures of terrorists dressed by a costume designer of some low-budget series, cold-heartedly perpetrating the worst atrocities. One could say, the enemy of our dreams…
A little nap, just like everybody
Our convoy stopped at a little village that had just been seized by the SDF, less than a kilometer from Mansoura. This was by all evidence our springboard for the assault of the city. Just after I put my feet on the ground, I experienced the first moment of stress: we heard gunshots only 200 or 300 meters away from our position… the village was not ours yet, or this is what it seemed like… but in the big house in which my tabûr had settled down, most of the guerrillas didn’t seem to worry. In fact, soon most of them had fallen asleep.
After a while, I felt a little stupid to be the only one on a war footing, taking the shooting position whenever I heard the sound of a machine-gun. I ended up like everybody around me… and had a little nap. The rest of the day passed by in this semi-slumber, interrupted by occasional exchanges of fire. They were right to teach us at the academy that the most important quality of any fighter is patience!
Nevertheless, during a turn of guard, I got a glimpse of our firepower when two dochkas (heavy machine guns installed on pickup trucks) were systematically shooting at a few buildings on the edge of Mansoura, during one hour. A little later, a comrade came to release me and take her shift – I had gotten quite thirsty, posted on this roof under the sun.
While going downstairs I didn’t expect myself to face, for the very first time, two soldiers of the caliphate.