TIME Turkey

Families of ISIS Fighters Speak Out

Turkish relatives TIME about their loved ones who have gone to fight in Syria

Kurds in Turkey have been a leading force in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in recent months. While Kurds have shown robust resistance to the brutal tactics of ISIS, some youths within the Kurdish population have joined the ranks of the the militant group and of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra front.

“I tried to convince him not to go,” said Hamza Beluk, the brother of an Al-Nusra fighter. “But he didn’t want to change his mind. He wasn’t a bad person.”

Family members that have seen their sons and brothers head off to Syria shy away from discussing their relatives’ departures, which runs counter to Kurdish efforts in the region. Though fearing reprisals from organizations like the PKK (Kurdistan’s Workers Party), a Kurdish separatist terrorist organization, some families have nevertheless spoken out decrying their relatives’ decision.

MORE: Inside ISIS, a TIME Special Report

Filit Tok, a Kurd from Bingol, Turkey, and the father of an al-Nusra fighter who died while with the militant group, said that he blames al-Qaeda for his son’s death. “They took him away from me,” Tok said. “They knew that if they took him there he would die. They didn’t care.”

Kurdish fighters have not been the only ones joining the ranks of ISIS. In the past years, fighters from around the globe have traveled to Iraq and Syria into the thousands to fuel the ranks of the Islamist group. But the presence of Kurdish fighters in the extremist militant group increasingly divides the Kurdish population.

With no end in sight to the conflict with ISIS, Kurds in the border region of southern Anatolia are increasingly worried about the appeal of ISIS on some of their youths.

 

 

 

TIME isis

The Fight Against ISIS on the Border Between Turkey and Syria

Here's what the conflict looks like from the border town of Kobani

In recent weeks, the town of Kobani in Syria has become a symbol of resistance against Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants.

A battle to control the border city has raged for over two months between ISIS and Kurdish fighters, as the town occupies a strategic position on the Turkish border that, if it were to fall, would allow ISIS to control much of the region.

Every day, groups of Kurdish men and women gather to watch the war from across the border in Turkey as their relatives fight the extremist organization. One Kurdish supporter, Hasan Kara, spoke with fear if Kobani were to fall in the hands of ISIS. “As a Kurd I can’t just wait here and watch. Actually as a human being… they shouldn’t expect anyone to stand here and do nothing.”

In recent weeks, coalition forces led by the U.S. have conducted a series of air strikes near the border city and have dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies in the Kurdish held areas.

Turkey has resisted calls to help the Kurds in their offensive against the radical group, describing them as a terrorist group like the Kurdish militant group the PKK.

But with no clear victor in sight, and an estimated 1,400 killed during fighting according to the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, thousands of Syrian refugees have attempted to escape the war-torn town to reach refugee camps in neighboring Turkey.

 

 

 

 

TIME racing

The Isle of Men: The World’s Deadliest Race

This is one of the most dangerous races known to man.

Once a year, for six days, the population of a small island in the Irish Sea doubles as motorcycle enthusiasts from around the globe flock to the racing mecca.
The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy is perhaps the most dangerous race on earth, with 242 deaths in its 107 years of existence. The TT, as it is commonly known, is the oldest race in motorcycle history, uniting high-octane adrenaline junkies with fun loving drunken bikers.
With six different events to boast of, the Manx TT races paralyze the island, as the event closes down these country roads so bikers can zoom, curve and dip through a 37.5 mile long loop at a frightening 130 mph average speed—that’s one lap in less than 18 minutes. All the kids on the island are given time off and the local economy thrives, making a large part of its earnings for the year. For those few days in spring, the incessant roar of motorcycle engines spewing high-pitched noise can be heard across the island as racers rev up for the main event.
In addition to traditional motorcycle racing, the event includes categories for electric motorcycles, sidecar racing, and various engine-sized motorbikes that see racers compete for top rank, risking life and limb in the process. Over the course of this year’s races, two men tragically lost their lives in crashes, as did one tourist riding his bike and a field marshal hired to clear the track before racing begins.
Conor Cummins, a seasoned rider describes the event as “the best race on the planet”—this despite a devastating crash in 2010 that shattered his arm, broke his back, dislocated his knee, bruised his lung and fractured his pelvis. Cummins, a native to the Isle of Man, was back on his bike 8 months later and somehow managed to compete in the following year’s Senior TT. “That was then and this is now,” says Cummins on the eve of the 2014 race “and it’s taken a lot to get back from to be honest, it took a lot of strength… And hopefully I’ll start seeing the fruits of my labors.”
On race day, Cummins, the soft spoken Manx rider tore through six laps and 226.38 miles as he competed with the heir to the Dunlop family name, Michael Dunlop. Despite a neck-and-neck race, Cummins came in second and was cheered as a victor by the local population, proving his worth to his Honda-sponsored team in the process.
As the list of deceased racers continues to grow, some wonder how much longer this race can go on.
“No one is forcing anyone to do this race… there’s not one man in that paddock that signed up because they have to” says Cummins. “iI’s because they want to.”
Die hard fans stand in the way of anyone who objects to the danger of the event, as one fan gleefully explained. When asked what he would do if they tried to cancel the Isle of Man TT, he responded simply: “Over my dead body.”
A little over a month after the TT ended, Conor crashed again at the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man, suffering a broken left forearm .“Had a bit of a shunt yesterday and got ran into by another bike,” he said. “I will be back better and stronger in no time all being well. Game on!”

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