BREAKING: Mail Online UK Reports on Ceylan Ozalp: ‘Did Kurdish Fighters’ Poster Girl Kill Herself to Avoid Being ISIS Hostage?’


 Daily Mail Online

UPDATE: Kurdish Fighter Ceylan Özalp Reported Alive; Contradicts Earlier Unsubstantiated Claims


editor-commen-deskFor War In ContextPaul Woodward finds growing credibility in the “Ceylan Ozalp is alive” counter-story, bolstered by affirmations by Kurdish journalist Müjgan Halis and PKK defense lawyer Ayla Akat Ata. In his comments, Woodward considers these sources authoritative, and is inclined to think they’re likely true. Which reopens questions about Ozalp’swar-in-context-ozalp-alive-report fate, and should spark interest in this mysterious Kurdish fighter’s whereabouts.

Note: The above photo, purporting to be Ceylan Ozalp, in circulation on Tumblr sites, isn’t new, it appeared around the time of the initial BBC broadcast about Kurdish Women fighters.

Here’s the thing: If Ceylan is not dead, and can identify herself online somewhere, or to a reporter, or to someone with a camera, the best and only evidence that truly can confirm Ozalp is alive is Ceylan Ozalp herself.

At the same time, no one has been able to verify that the dramatic claim that Ceylan Ozalp suicide story is true, either. Which lends a degree of credibility to the challenges made by the growing number of skeptics.

I don’t know enough about the sources, and haven’t explored these new reports enough to have an opinion, other than to say, beware of false or premature conclusions. And be thankful that not everyone believes the first thing they read, and considers it a fact. Because so many readers embraced a sentimental narrative about the bravery of a female Kurdish warrior who happens to be photogenic, this is all the more reason to be wary, and to question how the story is being presented. Good update by Paul Woodward, let’s hope we learn more.

War In ContextPaul Woodward:

“19-Year-Old Kurdish Woman Fighter ‘Kills Herself Rather Than Falling into Isis’ Hands’” is a headline appearing in International Business Times, October 3. I referred to the same story in this post, but it appears not to be true.

The first appearance of this story is thought to be this tweet on September 28 from @cansuipek21.

The tragic image of a nineteen-year-old woman fighter killing herself with her last bullet so that she would not be captured by ISIS, must have seemed iconic to many observers — a graphic representation of the plight Kurdish fighters in Kobane face, surrounded on three sides by ISIS while receiving no support from Turkey and very little from U.S. airstrikes. Sometimes a story conveys a powerful truth even when it turns out not to be true. Read the rest of this entry »

UPDATE: IBTimes Reports on Alleged Battlefield Suicide of YPG Fighter Ceylan Ozalp


“We’re not scared of anything. We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by Isis.”

— Ceylan Ozalp


UPDATE: after several days of trying to find authentication of the Ceylan Ozalp story, we’ve seen a few modest breakthroughs. First, a German magazine picked up the story. And this morning, an item appeared by Gianluca Mezzofiore, an investigative reporter for IBTimes UK. Though it also can’t verify the authenticity of the report on her suicide, it’s the first article in English that we’ve seen to take on the story, and look into it.

It also contains a link to BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse’s report, which I’d missed (we’ve linked Gatehouse’s BBC video, but not the article) It’s possible that Gatehouse is the only western journalist to meet and talk to Ceylan Ozalp while she was alive. And Mezzofiore may be the first investigative reporter to take what has so far only appeared in Turkish media outlets, circulated by pro-Kurdish politicians, and echoed by countless social media sites and blogs, but few, if any, news organizations, or western media outlets. We’ll add new updates as they come.

For example, this tweet appeared about nine hours ago. I wonder what newspaper is displayed in this photo? If anyone knows let us know.

 Syria: 19-Year-Old Kurdish Woman Fighter Kills Herself Rather Than Falling into Isis Hands

For the International Business Times in the UK, investigative reporter Gianluca Mezzofiore writes:gianluca-mezzofiore

A 19-year-old Kurdish fighter who appeared on a BBC report about Kurdish YPG women warriors in Syria has reportedly killed herself rather than falling into the hands of Isis (now known as Islamic State).

Ceylan Ozalp: ‘One of our women is worth a hundred of their [Isis] men’ 

Ceylan Ozalp found herself surrounded by Islamic State forces near the northern Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani, where a key battle is raging against the Sunni Islamists’ threat. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mystery of Ceylan Ozalp


“We’re not scared of anything. We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by ISIS.”

— Ceylan Ozalp

Updating from our original post: In Memory: Ceylan Ozalp, Kurdish YPG Fighter. There’s a lot of interest in this story, so I’m reposting it, and adding new information as it becomes available. Unfortunately, so far, the sources for these reports are social media posts, often from political rivals, propagandists, and sympathizers, parties that aren’t disinterested observers.  It’s unclear if this is accurate, but here’s what we have so far.

The first is from Free Kurdistan, Tumblr site, and it offers no link or outside verification.

Ceylan Ozalp (19), known from the BBC report about Kurdish YPG Women fighters led today with several comrades in the northern Syrian Kurdish city Kobani resistance against the ISIS terrorists.

In Kurdish areas of northern Syria, fighters have been battling Islamic State – or ISIS – for two years – and unlike Iraq’s kurdish forces, they get no help from the west. Gabriel Gatehouse has been northern Syria to meet some of those taking on the jihadists.

Surrounded on all sides and set under attack, she lost all her friends. She fought alone against the supernumerary terrorists. When she had no more ammunition and recognized the hopeless situation, she said goodbye over her radio and killed herself with the last bullet so that she don’t to fall into the hands of the rapists.

“We’re not scared of anything,” she said. “We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by ISIS.”

Rest in Peace Heroine

via Free Kurdistan

[Also see our item from Sept 12, 2014 – Women Fightin’ Islamic Gangstas]

Reports of Ceylan’s alleged battlefield suicide have been circulating in social media, picking up momentum over the last few days, including traffic that comes here, from others seeking confirmation.

This morning I sent a message to Gabriel Gatehouse, the BBC reporter who may be the only western journalist to have met Ceylan Ozalp, in hopes he can help clarify. I’ll add more here as information develops. Here’s Gatehouse‘s BBC video report.

In Kurdish areas of northern Syria, fighters have been battling Islamic State – or ISIS – for two years – and unlike Iraq’s kurdish forces, they get no help from the west. Gabriel Gatehouse has been northern Syria to meet some of those taking on the jihadists.

This morning I noticed the beginning of #CeylanOzalp

The largest 2nd largest source of traffic to our Sept 28 post comes via a LIVE LEAK’s post. It includes an unsupported claim that claim that Kurdish defensive positions were bombed by the U.S., resulting in up to 15 Kurdish casualties in Yarubiya (misspelled, of course) and smears Ceylan Ozalp’s legitimacy in what appears to be little more than a thinly-veiled celebration of Ceylan Ozalp’s alleged suicide. Or not. It’s hard to tell.

While we await additional confirmation of Ceylan Ozalp’s reported battlefield suicide, here’s an update for Thursday, Oct. 3rd 2014.

UPDATE: German Magazine BILD Features Ceylan Özalp Story — ‘Peshmerga Fighter: Suicide Out of Fear of ISIS Rape’

And these are the older updates.

The comments section offers little that could substantiate the original story, aside from sentimental glorification of Ceylan Ozalp. Other searches turn up links and sources that aren’t in English. The most recent being the one mentioned above, from a German magazine.

UPDATE: linked the photo of Ceylan Ozalp

UPDATE: This morning another addition to Twitter’s emerging #CeylanOzalp thread


Read the rest of this entry »

Women Fightin’ Islamic Gangstas


Photo by Mohammed A. Salih

Guerrillas from Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party are on the front lines in northern Iraq. Half of the organization’s leaders, including 24-year-old Avesta, are women.

MAKHMOUR, Iraq — Mohmmed A. Salih reports: Avesta enters the cramped room in a teachers’ residence turned temporary military base, ready for a meeting with her fellow fighters. The six commandos rise to shake her hand. She greets each individually. “Hello, heval,” she says, calling them by the Kurdish word for comrade. Then she lays down her Russian sniper rifle, and tea and coffee are served.

“Avesta attended an intense boot camp where she was immersed in the party’s revolutionary leftist ideology and view of women’s role in society, and trained to use weapons.”

The Islamic State’s fearsome fighters are just around 10 miles away, but the Kurdish snipers, some still teenagers, are mostly relaxed. They debate the merits of drinking coffee versus tea, discuss the situation in the camp, and joke with each other. “You are very photogenic,” one of the fighters tells Avesta cheerfully as she poses for a photo. She smiles shyly as others burst into laughter.

“The organization’s rules prohibit romantic relationships, and the fighters have little access to their families.”

Avesta is only 24, but she looks much older, with piercing gray eyes. Her long face is wrinkled and roughened; her hands are calloused. Her sniper rifle is at her side at all times; when it isn’t hanging from her back, it’s resting within arm’s reach — a constant companion to her uncertain life as a Kurdish guerrilla. Read the rest of this entry »

These Women Are Coming to Kill You


Women Warriors from the Turkish PKK have gone into into Iraq to tackle the jihadists

True Girl Power: Crack Unit of Heavily-Armed Female Soldiers Hunting ISIS Kidnappers

A crack unit of female soldiers is on the trail of Islamic State killers who have captured 3,000 innocent women in Iraq.

Thousands of non-Muslim women and girls have been kidnapped by Islamic Statet hugs on the rampage in the country over the past two weeks.

“Our support is just as important for the peshmerga as these US strikes – bombings alone cannot get rid of guerrilla groups.”

They face the terrifying prospect of being forced into marriage, sold as sex slaves or shot if they do not convert to Islam.

Now hundreds of women from the Turkish PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ party) have crossed into Iraq to help push the IS fighters out of the north of Iraq.

“We will keep fighting until all of Kurdistan is safe.”

They are striking fear into the hearts of the Jihadist thugs who believe if they are killed by a woman in battle they will not reach heaven. Read the rest of this entry »