Hundreds of miles away from family and friends facing an attack by Turkey, Kurdish and Arab forces deployed in the eastern Syrian desert against jihadists have become increasingly frustrated.
Six weeks into the Turkey-led assault on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, young men and women are leaving the fight against the Islamic State group in droves to head west to help.
Kurdish militia have formed the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance that has successfully expelled IS from much of Syria with the backing of a US-led military coalition.
But as news of the battle in Afrin reaches them, the fighters have become reluctant to hunt down jihadists in their last hideouts in Deir Ezzor province.
"We're preparing to head to Afrin," SDF fighter Roshavam Qamishlo told AFP on Saturday. The enclave "needs us now more than ever".
He spoke at the funeral of three comrades-in-arms in the northeastern town of Qamishli, where dozens came to pay their respects to those killed in Deir Ezzor.
"They should have died in Afrin," he said, as their coffins were displayed in the middle of the crowd, draped in the Kurdish colours of yellow, red and green.
Arab fighters, too, have opted to ditch battlefronts against IS to shore up lines of defence in Afrin.
On Tuesday, SDF commander Abu Omar al-Idlibi said 1,700 of his fighters -- mostly Arabs from northern Syria whose families had sought refuge in Afrin -- would be sent to defend the enclave in the coming week.
'All want to go'
Afrin, which is controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, is one of three regions Syria's Kurds hope will be part of a self-ruled federal region in the country's north.
Turkey sees the YPG as a "terrorist" group and has bombarded the region with air strikes and artillery fire since January 20.
More than 170 civilians have died in the assault, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.
Ankara however denies the claim and says it takes the "utmost care" to avoid civilian casualties.
The offensive has prompted a call-to-arms for the YPG and SDF, and one senior SDF official says "hundreds of fighters from Afrin and who have relatives there have returned to defend" their people.
As a result, the US-led coalition declared an "operational pause" to its anti-IS fight in eastern Syria on Monday.
US and coalition officials have said they will not get involved in the Afrin fighting and expressed concern it would detract from the SDF's operations against IS.
In addition to reinforcements from IS battlefronts, other fighters have streamed into Afrin from Qamishli, Hasakeh in the northeast and Kobane further west, says Rezan Hedo, an adviser to the YPG in Afrin.
Others even travelled from the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsud in the northern city of Aleppo, Hedo tells AFP.
In Qamishli, another fighter who gave his nom de guerre as Nushin Qamishlo said he would also join the fight on the Turkish border.
"We all want to go," said the 25-year-old, who sported a thick beard and whose head was wrapped in a bright blue scarf.
'A fair solution'
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Post and present trauma time bomb hangs over Gaza
Israel 'change' coalition poised for vote to end Netanyahu era
Haj limited to 60,000 Saudi citizens and residents
Palestinian teen shot dead by Israel army
IATA to roll out Covid 'travel pass' in Middle East soon
Oman reports 1931 new Covid-19 cases, 14 deaths
Iran ‘nuclear talks policy won’t change after presidential vote’
Palestinian teen bears scar of eviction battle in East Jerusalem
Israeli police detain Palestinian activist twins from East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah