Syrian Kurds Find Refuge in Camp Named after Suicide Bomber


Syrian Kurdish refugees who streamed into Turkey from Kobane have found sanctuary in a new camp named after a female Kurdish suicide bomber who blew herself up in the battle against jihadists for the besieged Syrian town.

The new camp in the Turkish border town of Suruc has been named by the municipality -- which is controlled by the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) -- after Arin Mirkan.

Arin Mirkan was a young Kurdish woman from northern Syria who killed herself earlier this month at an Islamic State (IS) position in Kobane.

It was the first reported instance of a female suicide bomber used by Kurdish forces in the conflict against IS, which has itself often employed the tactic.

A full-time fighter with the Syria-based Kurdish rebel group the People's Protection Units (YPG), the woman was claimed to have killed a number of jihadists.

"Arin dedicated her life to her people and proved what can be done with a woman's power," said Cihat Inco, the local coordinator of the 5,500-person capacity camp, which began accepting refugees from Kobane last week.

"Both her name and her honor had to be kept alive," Inco said. "She demonstrated that there are also women in the YPG who can fight and sacrifice their lives for their freedoms."

IS began its advance on Kobane in September, seeking to cement its grip over a long stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border.

The jidhadist offensive promoted a mass exodus from Kobane and its surrounding villages, with 200,000 fleeing into Turkey, which already hosts 1.5 million Syrians from the three-year-old conflict.

Many Syrian refugees stay at camps in Suruc run by Turkey's emergencies directorate, AFAD.

But Inco said this new camp has received no support from the government agency.

The camp still lacks electricity and water, and construction was continuing as refugees tried to survive in squalid conditions.

The signs outside read "Arin Mirxan Cadir Kenti", using a Kurdish variant of Mirkan's surname and the Turkish for "tent city" -- in line with Turkey's practice not to call such places refugee camps.

Many of the refugees, so focused on the daily battle to make ends meet, were even unaware of camp's name. Some of them had not bathed for days, and others were seen carrying water from a gas station across the camp.

Learning that the camp was named after the Syrian Kurdish fighter, they said they were proud.

"We are honored to be taking a shelter under the shadow of her name," said Vahide Mustafa, a female refugee, outside her tent.

"She was honorable. She was a combatant. Daring to take such action was worth the strength of seven men," she said.

"Arin was more courageous than us. Nobody can do what she did," 55-year-old Fawaz Abdo said in his tent, sitting on a blanket.

"She shed her blood for us. That cannot be compensated," he added.

Twenty-nine-year old Cazya Ibrahim, standing next to her four children in the camp, said: "She sacrificed herself for a decent cause. She kept up our morale. I wish I were in her place. I wish our hearts were as strong as hers."

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