Thursday, November 06, 2014

Interview With US Army Vet Battling ISIS in Kobani

 A few brave American souls have taken it upon themselves to make the trek over to northeastern Syria to help the embattled Kurds beat ISIS.

Here is an interview with U.S. Army vet Jordan Matson, 28, who traveled from Wisconsin to Syria when he heard about the horrors ISIS was committing against Christians and minorities in Mosul, Iraq.

"For over a year, people were being slaughtered by ISIS," the 28-year-old Sturtevant, Wisconsin, native told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI), using another acronym for IS.

"Anyone who didn't conform to their way of life could either convert, be killed, or get driven off their land. So when Mosul fell and IS drove all the Christians and minorities from the town or killed them, I thought that enough was enough and I decided to come here to fight," Matson said via Skype.

For two months, Matson has fought in northeastern Syria alongside the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). He said he decided to join the Kurdish militia after searching the Internet for a way to fight IS.

"I found that the YPG was the only force in the area that would let Christians and Muslims live in peace together so I decided to join them," he said.

Like most of the foreign Islamic jihadists, Matson entered Syria from Turkey, and has much praise for the Kurdish people. Shortly after arriving in Syria, he sustained injuries to his arm and eye during a battle in Rojava.

He related how Kurdish locals took care of him while he was recovering in the hospital. Kurdish families would visit him there, bringing food to share with him and other wounded fighters, he said.

"There's a lot of love in the community. It's something you can't really find in the United States; it's very different and I love it," Matson added.

He is now fighting in Kobani, and ever thankful for the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga troops who have entered the fray to help.

But to finish off ISIS he had this to say:

"To put an end to IS, we are going to need boots on the ground," he said. "If we increase the bombing campaign and put boots on the ground to help give support to the YPG fighters, it would help push IS back to the Syrian borders. Troops could save many lives here," Matson told RFI.

And like ISIS, Matson has been trying to recruit more fighters to help out through social media outlets. According to YPG's Kandal Amed, other foreign fighters have joined forces with the People's Protection Unit to fight ISIS.

"Foreign fighters are in all fronts with the People's Protection Units. Germans and Russians, others, wanted to be part of the new spirit that was created for the peoples of the Middle East. Among our ranks, you will find Americans, Germans, and others, all men, but we expect the arrival of foreign women, too,"

In tandem with the Iraqi Peshmerga forces, they are trying to help the Yazidis, many of whom are still stranded in Iraq's Sinjar Mountain.

"Now in the Sinjar Mountain there are families, civilians, and our comrades living in difficult humanitarian conditions. We talked to them by phone today," he said on November 5, "They suffer from the extreme cold, where during the last week about seven to eight children died because of the cold and hunger. We are now working with the Peshmerga forces to open a corridor to save these families."

RFE/RL has a video of Matson.

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