Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters hold their organization near Tal abyad (Gire Sipi). photo: AP
GIRE SIPI, Syria— The ethnically mixed Syrian town of Tal Abyad , known as Gire Sipi in Kurdish, will temporarily become part of the Kurdish-administrated Kobani canton, local authorities told Rudaw on Saturday.
The strategic border town, recently recaptured from the Islamic State, will join the Kobani administrative zone due to its proximity and “shared culture and history,” according to the provisional council that approved the decision.
The council, set up to represent the area’s ethnic and religious groups, voted unanimously for Tal Abyad join Kobani canton. “Canton” refers to a territorial district, in this case of Rojava, the Kurdish name for the ethnic-majority Kurdish area of northern Syria.
“No group was opposed to the idea of, at least temporarily, becoming part of the Kobani canton until things become more stable,” said an Arab representative on the council.
“No one wanted to have anything to do with the ISIS in Raqqa province,” he added.
Originally part of Raqqa province in northern Syria, Tal Abyad has a population of 52,000 people, mostly Kurds and Arabs, but also ethnic Christians and Turkmen who have lived in the area for centuries.
The provincial council said “all groups will have a say” in how the city as governed.
Tal Abyad fell to the jihadist militants in 2013, following the Syrian popular uprising. The recapture of the city was a joint operation by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Kurdish Protection Units (YPG) supported by coalition airstrikes on ISIS positions in and around the city.
“All the different peoples here in the area called on the YPG and FSA to liberate the city from these dark forces,” said one Kurdish representative, referring to the ISIS militants who have controlled most of central Syria since the uprising turned into a bloody sectarian war in the country.
More than 220,000 people had until January this year been killed as a result of the war in Syria, according to the latest United Nation report published in April.
Earlier last week, Kurdish authorities in Tal Abyad rebuffed accusations from neighboring Turkey about closure of the border gate by the YPG with the intention of preventing Arab families from returning to the city.
“Until things become more stable, the administration of the city will be handed over to the canton in Kobane after which people will decide how to run their town,” said one YPG representative in the provincial council.
Tal Abyad is seen as far more strategically important than Kobane because it connects the three Kurdish-controlled areas of Afrin, Cizire and Kobani, while it is the only routes from ISIS capital of Raqqa to the Turkish border.