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Picture Story A red flag over Raqqa

GARY OAK presents a photograph of International Freedom Battalion members recreating the famous 1945 photo Raising a Flag over the Reichstag

TO MARK the victory over Isis in its de facto capital Raqqa, members of the International Freedom Battalion (IFB), an alliance of left-wing groups fighting alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), recreated the famous 1945 photo of the Red Army on the Reichstag. 

Speaking under the name the codename Serhildan 21, an IFB member from London, told the Star he saw the two victories as connected.

“When the red flag flew over Berlin, it was the symbol of victory over nazi-fascism. We consider Raqqa to mean the defeat of Isis-fascism and ourselves to be in the same communist tradition as the liberating troops.”

He says that the IFB was at the forefront of the fighting. Ten of their members died in 2017, making it their bloodiest but also most successful year.

“The IFB concept came to fruition, with comrades from every corner of the world joining us. We have set a new paradigm in internationalism.”

Tekosin, an Irish volunteer in his late twenties, mourned the death of two non-members who he said had become very close to the IFB. 

“Jac Holmes rolled out with us on many operations as a sniper. He came to our position to eat dinner with us the night before he died.” 

Holmes, 24, from Bournemouth, had been with the YPG for two years when he was killed by an Isis booby trap in Raqqa. The unit was also friends with London-based Kurdish filmmaker Mehmet Aksoy, who died in an Isis counter attack.

“He often came for dinner and long political discussions. He had an infectious hopefulness about him, a true revolutionary like us.”

It is unclear what the future holds for the IFB or the area of Syria which they defend, known as Rojava. 

Returning volunteers have been arrested and several young people have been arrested attempting to leave Britain to volunteer.

The Foreign Office advises against all travel to Syria.

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