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.
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.