Do you think Theresa May is angry?
Jac Holmes gave up his life in England, learned Kurdish and became one of the most famous faces of the YPG's international volunteers.
How did you become part of the Kurdish struggle in Rojava? How did you find out about the Kurds?
I dealt intensively with the Syrian civil war and came across the YPG and the Kurds in Rojava. I found out they were taking in volunteers and decided to join.
What is your motivation Do you have personal reasons to join this fight?
It's a combination. I want to help people and fight against evil.
There are several UK volunteers who seem to have followed a similar path. Would you say you share the same goal in the fight against IS or do the motives vary fundamentally?
Most of them have the same thoughts, they want to help the people here in Rojava and Syria to fight the evil, the IS. But there are also a lot of people who are very interested in supporting the revolution in Rojava and not just fighting in war.
How do you communicate with the Kurds in Rojava?
I learned to speak Kurdish, not fluently, but enough to communicate my needs and understand the people around me.
The profound differences between life in the UK and here in Rojava must have been a shock. Alone in a war zone in the middle of the Middle East. What was the biggest challenge for you in relation to your environment?
The greatest difficulty is the language, then the culture. There are significant fundamental differences between the cultures of the Middle East and those of the West, by which I mean you have to be sensitive, observe the different 'rules', adapt and be respectful. Another problem is certainly diet. We eat very differently here than in our homeland and the food is often rather one-sided. Most dishes consist of beans, rice, pasta, bread and soup.
How are the preparations for the upcoming battle for Raqqa?
The YPG is making great strides and is moving closer and closer to Raqqa. We are currently only 20-25km away from the city limits and have liberated countless villages and areas. The eastern front will shortly be ready to advance, perhaps ready in a few days. We are getting closer and closer to Raqqa, we will see what the YPG has planned next.
How is the British government dealing with the volunteers from there?
The British government has a keen eye on us volunteers. We have all been temporarily arrested and questioned, I myself have been several times. The government knows everything about us and what we are doing here. They would prefer us not to be here to do what we do, but it is not forbidden and we are free to do so.
There are various reports that military units from other countries are fighting alongside the YPG in Rojava. Can you confirm this and if so, which countries? Did you meet any of these units?
There are several NATO special forces here, they coordinate with the YPG and offer support. I met Americans and French myself. I've also heard of German, Canadian, and British units that also work with the YPG.
Is there a special moment or memory from your travels to Rojava?
One moment I will never forget is when I was shot in a battle in the spring of 2015. But actually I have so many good and bad memories from here. There are many special memories from the operations in which I was involved, especially of the people I got to know, with whom I lived and fought, Kurds, Arabs and internationalists - as well as the friends I made lost during my time here.
Also currently there is a British volunteer who fell on his way home to Great Britain. One of the first to fall was Kosta Eric Scurfield. Do you have any memories of him that you want to share?
Kosta was a great person and a good fighter. I have never met anyone who said a bad word about them. He was a real fighter who is missed by everyone who knew him.
There appears to be a significant number of international volunteers in the YPG. Do you know how many volunteers are here and how many brigades are they in?
Around 500 volunteers have joined the YPG in recent years. Currently there are between 50 and 100. They are usually stationed in Kurdish units, but there are also a few units in the YPG made up entirely of volunteers.
Do you have a message for the UK public?
My message to the British public is: ISIS is not just a problem in Syria and Iraq, it is a problem for everyone in the world. We have to become aware of what is happening in the places where IS is active and do something before the danger stands on our doorstep.
Do you have a message for the Kurdish youth?
I would like to say to the Kurdish youth, no matter where you live in this world, you are Kurdish and always will be. You have to learn the Kurdish languages and defend your culture and identity. I don't think everyone has to come here to fight, not everyone can. There are many things that can be done to help, such as raise funds and raise awareness about the struggle for freedom. I greet all those who want to fight. There's no reason why you can't do the same thing that we foreign volunteers do. Come to Rojava, stay for half a year, gain experience and make up your own mind.
What do you think of the arms deal between Theresa May and the Turkish state last week, in addition to the previous arms deal of £ 350 million over the past two years?
I think people are serving as a disgusting reason for the UK government and especially Theresa May. The only thing they worry about is money, they don't worry about the future of England, nor about the welfare and stability of the Middle East. The people who elected these parasites to office should give serious thought to their legacy and the future that they will give to their children.
Which parts of Rojava have you already seen during your fights?
I was already everywhere in the canton of Cizîrê, in Tel Hamis, Tel Tamer, Abdulaziz, the south of Abdulaziz, al Hawl and the first areas in the north of Raqqa during the ongoing operation.
Finally, would you like to say a few words about the British volunteer Ryan Lock, who died fighting ISIS?
I met Ryan in Silêmanî before he went to Rojava. He was a great guy, he had honorable intentions, like many of us he wanted to help people and fight the evil, ISIS.
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