In a field beside a disused railway station on the plain just south of the Syrian-Turkish frontier, a brigade of Syrian Kurdish soldiers were retraining in order to resist an invasion by the Turkish army. “We acted like a regular army when we were fighting Daesh [Isis],” Rojvan, a veteran Kurdish commander of the YPG (People’s Protection Units), told me. “But now it is we who may be under Turkish air attack and we will have to behave more like guerrillas.”
Rojvan and his men had just returned from fighting Isis for 45 days in their last strongholds in eastern Syria. I had met him first in a cemetery in the Kurdish capital Qamishli where he was burying one of his men who had been killed by an Isis rocket when driving a bulldozer to build field fortifications in the middle of a battle.
But now he and his men were learning new tactics to combat the Turkish military units that were beginning to mass on the Turkish side of the border.
Rojvan was a very experienced soldier and not given to false optimism, saying: “We are mainly armed with light weapons like the Kalashnikov and the RPG [rocket propelled grenade] launcher and light machine guns, but we will be resisting tanks and aircraft.”