World

Kurdish fighter's long battle through changing face of Syrian war

  • Syrian Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, 22, sits with his wife Siham, 23, and their two sons, Dilyar, left, 3 and Ibrahim, 2, right, at his brother's house in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, as he prepares to leave for Kobani, Syria, to rejoin the fighting, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Sheikh Ahmad is a member of the People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG and is fighting against militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria. Every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family that had evacuated. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

    Syrian Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, 22, sits with his wife Siham, 23, and their two sons, Dilyar, left, 3 and Ibrahim, 2, right, at his brother's house in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, as he prepares to leave for Kobani, Syria, to rejoin the fighting, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. Sheikh Ahmad is a member of the People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG and is fighting against militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria. Every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family that had evacuated. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Syrian Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, right, 22, rides a motorcycle on the outskirts of Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, as he and other fighters try to approach the border to cross into Syria to rejoin the fighting In Kobani, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The father of two is a member of the People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG and is fighting against militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria. Every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family that had evacuated. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

    Syrian Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, right, 22, rides a motorcycle on the outskirts of Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, as he and other fighters try to approach the border to cross into Syria to rejoin the fighting In Kobani, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The father of two is a member of the People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG and is fighting against militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria. Every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family that had evacuated. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Syrian Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, 22, sits at his brother's house in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 as he prepares to leave for Kobani, Syria, to rejoin the fighting, The father of two is a member of the People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG and is fighting against militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria. Every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family that had evacuated. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

    Syrian Kurdish fighter Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad, 22, sits at his brother's house in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 as he prepares to leave for Kobani, Syria, to rejoin the fighting, The father of two is a member of the People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG and is fighting against militants of the Islamic State group in Kobani, Syria. Every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family that had evacuated. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)  (The Associated Press)

At the age of 22, Delkhwaz Sheikh Ahmad has become a battle-hardened father of two, fighting against an ever increasing array of groups embroiled in Syria's multi-faceted civil.

A conscript serving his military service in Syrian President Bashar Assad's army when the Syrian revolution broke out in 2011, the Syrian Kurdish teenager at the time was seriously wounded in Daraa — where the revolution began — while fighting the rebels in July that year. The bullet that hit him narrowly missed his heart, and he was sent to his home village of Metina to recover.

There, he joined a local self-defense force protecting the village — and ended up fighting against four separate rebel groups: the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, the Raqqa Brigade and, lastly, the Islamic State group. In one of the twists of this multi-sided war, his militia eventually joined the main Kurdish militia, the People's Protection Units, also known as YPG which joined forces with the Raqqa Brigade against IS.

He lost two cousins and many of his friends in battles across the region.

Sheikh Ahmad says that as IS got closer in mid-September, he evacuated his family — his 23-year-old wife Siham and their two sons: 2-year-old Dilyar and 3-year-old Ibrahim — to Turkey. They now live with his brother in Suruc, a town just across the border in Turkey.

But he stayed behind, to defend the strategic Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, along the border with Turkey.

"We just want to defend our lands, our towns, our villages, where Kurdish people are," he said.

Every few weeks, he takes a couple of days to cross the border into Turkey to visit his family. But the crossing isn't always open, in either direction. Now, he's trying to get back into Syria, along with several other fighters, to defend Kobani.

"It is hard, but we will get back in because our friends are there. We have to get inside, even if there is hardship, we will get inside."