Kobanî Canton

Kobanî Canton
Kantona Kobaniyê
one of four de facto autonomous cantons
of the region of Rojava in Syria



The three cantons of Rojava: Afrin Canton (orange), Kobanî Canton (red), Jazira Canton (green), and the Shahba region (pink)
Country  Syria
Governorate Aleppo
De facto Administration Federation of Northern Syria - Rojava
Autonomy declared January 27, 2014 (2014-01-27)
Administrative center Kobanî
  Prime Minister Enver Muslim
  Estimate (2004[1]) 322,227
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Area code +963 21
Map of Rojava cantons in February 2014

Kobanî Canton (Kurdish: Kantona Kobaniyê) is the central of four cantons of de facto autonomous Rojava in northern Syria, factually comprising Ayn al-Arab District of the Aleppo Governorate, Tell Abyad District of the Al-Raqqah Governorate, and the westernmost tip of Nahiya Ras al-Ayn of the Ras al-Ayn District of Al-Hasakah Governorate. Kobanî Canton unilaterally declared autonomy in January 2014 and since de facto is under direct democratic government in line with the polyethnic Constitution of Rojava.

The cantonal capital city is Kobanî, which was under siege between October 2014 and January 2015 by ISIL.[2]


The canton is bordered by Euphrates river to the west, Urfa Province of Turkey to the north, Jazira Canton to the east, Ar-Raqqah and Al-Thawrah Districts of the Ar-Raqqah Governorate of Syria to the south. At latitude approximately 36 and a half degrees north, its landscape consists of plains and low hills, rivers being Euphrates and Balikh. Part of the Fertile Crescent, its climate is mostly "warm mediterranean" on the Köppen climate classification, as opposed to the colder, semi-arid regions in its and further to the south and east.[3]


The current population of Kobanî Canton is unknown due to substantial refugee movements; however, the population of the territory prior to 2014 was estimated at roughly 400,000, with an ethnic Kurdish majority.[4] Due to intense fighting at least three-quarters of the population fled across the border to Turkey in 2014;[5] however, many returned in 2015.[6]

Cities and towns with more than 10.000 inhabitants according to the 2004 Syrian census are Kobanî (44,821) and Tell Abyad (14,825).


See also: Rojava conflict
Further information: Siege of Kobanî and Tell Abyad offensive

The present Kurdish populated area on the left bank of the Euphrates was settled by Kurdish tribes at the beginning of the 17th century.[7] In modern post-independence Syria, the Kurdish society of the region was subject to heavy-handed Arabization policies by the Damascus government.[8] In the course of the Syrian Civil War and the Rojava conflict, Damascus government forces withdrew from the area, and on 27 January 2014 an autonomous Kobanî Canton under the Constitution of Rojava was declared and institutions established.

In July 2013, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began to forcibly displace Kurdish civilians from towns in Al-Raqqah Governorate. After demanding that all Kurds leave Tell Abyad or else be killed, thousands of civilians, including Turkmens and Arabs, fled on 21 July. Its fighters looted and destroyed the property of Kurds, and in some cases, resettled displaced Sunni Arab families from the an-Nabek District (Rif Damascus), Deir ez-Zor and al-Raqqah, in abandoned Kurdish homes. A similar pattern was documented in Tel Arab and Tal Hassel in July 2013. As ISIL consolidated its authority in Ar-Raqqah, Kurdish civilians were forcibly displaced from Tel Akhader, and from the immediate Kobanî area, in March and September 2014, respectively.[9]

Kobanî Canton has seen fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since 2014. In September 2014, ISIL launched a major assault against Kobanî Canton, seizing more than 100 Kurdish villages.[10][11] As a consequence of the ISIL occupation, up to 200,000 Kurdish refugees fled from the Kobanî Canton to Turkey, allowed in only under the condition that they leave vehicles or livestock behind.[10][12] While committing massacres and kidnapping womenen the seized villages,[11] ISIL forces were not able to occupy the entire canton, as the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Women's Protection Units (YPJ) forces successfully put up stiff resistance in the city of Kobanî. After weeks of isolation as a result of Turkey blocking arms and fighters from entering the city, the US-led coalition finally began to target the ISIL assault forces with airstrikes. This move helped the YPG/YPJ to force ISIL to retreat from the city, and much of the surrounding region was retaken by Kurdish forces.[13] After the successful summer 2015 Tell Abyad offensive of YPG/YPJ forces against ISIL, municipalities there voted to join the autonomous Kobanî Canton administration,[14] creating the canton in its contemporary shape.

Politics and administration

Kobanî's Legislative Assembly has appointed a president, two deputies and 22 ministers to rule Kobanî Canton. Its prime minister is Enver Müslim. According to the constitutional Charter of the Social Contract, the Kobanî Canton's Legislative Assembly on its 27 January 2014 session declared autonomy. The assembly elected Enver Müslim prime minister, who appointed Bêrîvan Hesen and Xalid Birgil his deputies. The government is lobbying for a humanitarian corridor, and the creation of new refugee camps inside Syria, where they can help with rebuilding.[15]

List of executive officers

Name Party Office Elected Notes
Enver Müslim PYD Prime Minister 2014
Bêrîvan Hesen PYD Deputy Prime Minister 2014
Xalid Birgil PYD Deputy Prime Minister 2014
Îbrahîm Kurdo N/A Foreign Minister 2014
Îsmet Şêx Hesen N/A Minister of Defense 2014
Ehmed Osman Dadilî N/A Interior Minister 2014
Mistefa Ebdî N/A Minister of Regional Commissions,
Councils and Planning
Eliya Sîdî N/A Minister of Finance 2014
Mehmud Bişirî Beşar N/A Minister of Labor and Social Security 2014
Hisên Mehemed Elî N/A Minister of Education: 2014
Gulistan Etî Bikî N/A Minister of Agriculture 2014
Dr. Neesan Ehmed N/A Minister of Health 2014
Mehmud Bozan Mislim N/A Minister of Trade and Economy 2014
Mehemed Şeban N/A Minister of Martyrs’ Families 2014
Ebdilrezaq Elî N/A Minister of Culture 2014
Riyad Temo Mistefa N/A Minister of Transportation 2014
Welat Derwîş Derwîş N/A Minister of Youth and Sport 2014
Mîdya Hemo Genco N/A Minister of History and Tourism 2014
Mehemed Zahir Mistefa N/A Minister of Religious Affairs 2014
Wehîde Umer N/A Minister of Women and Family Affairs 2014
Faruk Şahîn N/A Minister of Human Rights 2014
Ehmed Daban N/A Minister of Supervision 2014
Şevîn Mehmud N/A Minister of Information 2014
Ewas Xelîl Elî N/A Minister of Justice: 2014
Fazil Mistefa Ehmed N/A Minister of Energy 2014


Economic priorities are the continuing war and reconstruction, including help for returning refugees.[6]

Most of the city and surrounding villages have been destroyed or badly damaged, and there is a danger of landmines. There is no power and not enough food, clean water or housing. Reconstruction will cost billions of dollars.[6]


Like in the other Rojava cantons, pimary education in the public schools is initially by mother tongue instruction either Kurdish or Arabic, with the aim of bilingualism in Kurdish and Arabic in secondary schooling.[16][17] Curricula are a topic of continuous debate between the cantons' Boards of Education and the Syrian central government in Damascus, which partly pays the teachers.[18][19][20][21] With Kobanî Canton being home to a Syrian Turkmen minority, school education bilingual in Turkish and Arabic has also been made available.[22]

The federal, cantonal and local administrations in Rojava put much emphasis on promoting libraries and educational centers, to facilitate learning and social and artistic activities. One cited example is the May 2016 established Rodî û Perwîn Library in Kobani.[23]

Kobanî Canton has no institution of higher education.

See also


  1. "General Census of Population and Housing 2004" (PDF) (in Arabic). Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 October 2015. Also available in English: "2004 Census Data". UN OCHA. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  2. "The Constitution of the Rojava Cantons". Personal Website of Mutlu Civiroglu.
  3. "Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification". European Geosciences Union.
  4. "Kobane Under Intense ISIS Attack, Excluded from UN Humanitarian Aid". Rudaw. 17 July 2014.
  5. "Syria says giving military support to Kurds in Kobani". The Daily Star. Agence France-Presse. October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 14, 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 "The dangerous rebuilding of Kobani".
  7. Jordi Tejel (2008). Syria's Kurds: History, Politics and Society. Routledge. pp. 10–. ISBN 978-1-134-09643-5.
  8. "SYRIA: The Silenced Kurds; Vol. 8, No. 4(E)". Human Rights Watch. 1996.
  9. "Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic: Twenty-seventh session". UN Human Rights Council.
  10. 1 2 Constanze Letsch (22 September 2014). "Isis onslaught against Kurds in Syria brings 'man-made disaster' into Turkey". the Guardian.
  11. 1 2 "ISIL seizes 21 Kurdish villages in northern Syria, close in on Kobane". AFP/Reuters. 18 September 2014.
  12. Ayla Albayrak (17 October 2014). "Hundreds Wait for Kobani Fighting to End, Risking Lives at Border". Wall Street Journal.
  13. "YPG official: Airstrikes not enough to protect Kobani". Al-Monitor. 14 October 2014.
  14. Tom Perry (21 October 2015). "Town joins Kurdish-led order in Syria, widening sway at Turkish border". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  15. "Kobani: destroyed and riddled with unexploded bombs, but its residents dare to dream of a new start". Guardian. 2015-01-31.
  16. "Education in Rojava after the revolution". ANF. 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  17. "After 52-year ban, Syrian Kurds now taught Kurdish in schools". Al-Monitor. 2015-11-06. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
  18. "Hassakeh: Syriac Language to Be Taught in PYD-controlled Schools". The Syrian Observer. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
  19. "Kurds introduce own curriculum at schools of Rojava". Ara News. 2015-10-02. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
  20. "Revolutionary Education in Rojava". New Compass. 2015-02-17. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  21. "Education in Rojava: Academy and Pluralistic versus University and Monisma". Kurdishquestion. 2014-01-12. Retrieved 2016-05-18.
  22. "Confederalisme democràtic: Noves classes en llengua turcmana al nord de Síria". KurdisCat. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  23. "Kurds establish university in Rojava amid Syrian instability". Kurdistan24. 2016-07-07. Retrieved 2016-07-07.

External links

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