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Islamic State Victim Lisa Calan Plans to Project Consequences of Terrorism Through Film

During the past four years, IS has killed almost 400 people and wounded more than 1,000 in Turkey, starting with 51 dead in two car bombs on May 11, 2013

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Lisa Calan, the IS victim
FILE - Using a wheelchair, Lisa Calan, who lost both her legs at an explosion June 5, 2015, in Diyarbakir, in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast during a pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's, (HDP) rally for the previous elections, casts her vote Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. VOA
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  • IS either claimed responsibility or was named by authorities as being behind the attacks
  • A film script writer, Calan has managed to stay upbeat and doesn’t suffer from the financial problems of other victims of IS attacks, thanks to a fund-raising campaign on her behalf in Turkey and Germany
  • Peace has become hard to find in Turkey, which has been pummeled by attacks from Kurdish separatists long before IS emergence took the country by surprise in 2013

June 19, 2017: Lisa Calan’s legs are buried next to her father’s grave, the result of an Islamic State bombing at a political rally two years ago, one of the extremist group’s early attacks in Turkey.

“So I guess I can say I am already partly in the grave,” the 29-year-old film professional told VOA.

During the past four years, IS has killed almost 400 people and wounded more than 1,000 in Turkey, starting with 51 dead in two car bombs on May 11, 2013, according to a VOA tally from news reports of IS-related terror.

ALSO READ: How Iran protects itself from the Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist Attacks? Read it here!

IS either claimed responsibility or was named by authorities as being behind the attacks.

A film script writer, Calan has managed to stay upbeat and doesn’t suffer from the financial problems of other victims of IS attacks, thanks to a fund-raising campaign on her behalf in Turkey and Germany. But she continues to deal with the aftermath of the bombing of a pro-Kurdish HDP party rally in Diyarbakir that killed four people and wounded many others.

“I very often have horrible nightmares,” she said. “I hear sounds of explosions. I smell gunpowder all over my body. I hear people screaming. I see body parts. I see blood. It is so terrifying.

Hope alive

“But I am still able to hope and smile,” she added. “Most of all I want to see peace realized in Turkey. My hope for peace keeps me alive. I will never give up asking and working for peace.”

Peace has become hard to find in Turkey, which has been pummeled by attacks from Kurdish separatists long before IS emergence took the country by surprise in 2013.

Since a cease-fire broke down in July 2015 between the government and the outlawed PKK — the Kurdistan Workers Party — at least 2,844 people have been killed in PKK-related violence, including 395 civilians, according to figures compiled by the International Crisis Group.

Turks are also dealing with the effects of a massive government crackdown on dissidents following a coup attempt last year and the impact of the long-running civil war in neighboring Syria which spawned an escalating IS movement inside Turkey.

Turkey’s government has come under blistering internal criticism for allowing IS militants from other countries to gain passage into neighboring Syria and Iraq and letting IS sympathizers establish havens in the country’s southeast region.

As IS escalated terror in Turkey, each attack has left lives shattered.

“I’ve had seven operations so far,” said Calan. “I have to have one more pretty soon. This one is a little risky. I am still thinking about it.”

Lisa Calan receiving treatment in Diyarbakir hospital
1- Lisa Calan receiving treatment in Diyarbakir hospital after she lost her legs from an explosion in June 5, 2015., Diyarbakir, Turkey. VOA

Her family also has been devastated. Her mother and younger brother have had trouble coping. And an older brother earlier lost both legs to an illness.

Moving on

“So I am the second child of in the family with no legs now,” Calan said. “Not easy at all … My close friends keep treating me as they did before. I know how they feel. Because of my condition we have to be more careful where we go and meet. I used to love walking in Diyarbakir. I walked almost everywhere. That somehow changes their lives too.”

Calan credits the challenges of growing up in a Kurdish family with helping her overcome tragedy.

“All Kurdish children are born into a political world,” Calan said. “This keeps people able to go on with their daily lives. This gives us strength. That is how I am, too. I don’t feel like a person with no legs.”

Lisa Calan
Lisa Calan on her wheelchair while being interviewed by Turkish reporters at her home five months after the Diyarbakir bombing that cost her two legs, Diyarbakir, Turkey, Oct. 2015. VOA

Calan hopes to return to her budding career in film, where she served as an art director, script writer and actress. She already has picked out her next project, a documentary about three IS bombings in Turkey, including Diyarbakir.

“I want to talk to a lot of people who were at these places like I was, those who got wounded and those who lost loved ones, their personal problems that came after these bombings,” Calan said. “Many people now have serious financial problems. They can’t afford their treatments.”

Government officials say Turkey has intensified its crackdown on IS-associated militants since a New Year’s Eve attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub claimed by IS.

But for Calan, who is pursuing compensation for her injuries, the government shares some responsibility for the IS-bombing that took away her legs.

“Government authorities turned a blind eye to this whole thing,” she said. “Everybody was already talking about a probable IS bombing attack during the HDP rally in Diyarbakir. I blame some politicians, too. Some of the statements they have made were encouraging to IS militants.” (VOA)

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Syrian Militia: End Is Near for Islamic State in Raqqa

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Syria ISIS
Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an airstrike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria. voa

Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters Saturday.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said around 100 of the jihadist group’s fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and had been “removed from the city,” but it still expected difficult fighting “in the days ahead.”

It did not say how the fighters had been removed or where the fighters had been taken.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said remaining Islamic State fighters were being transported out of Raqqa by bus under a deal between Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG. There was no immediate comment on that report from the coalition or the SDF.

Fighting since June

Civilians who escaped from Islamic State
Civilians who escaped from Islamic State militants rest at a mosque in Raqqa, Syria. voa

The SDF, backed by coalition airstrikes and special forces, has been battling since June to oust Islamic State from Raqqa city, formerly its de facto capital in Syria and a base of operations where it planned attacks against the West.

The final defeat of Islamic State at Raqqa will be a major milestone in efforts to roll back the group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where earlier this year the group was driven from the city of Mosul.

“The battles are continuing in Raqqa city. Daesh (Islamic State) is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow the city may be liberated,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters by telephone.

In emailed comments to Reuters, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon said about 100 Islamic State fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and were “removed from the city,” without giving further details.

“We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think (Islamic State) will be completely defeated in Raqqa,” he said, adding that around 85 percent of Raqqa had been liberated as of Oct. 13.

Some civilians escape

Around 1,500 civilians had been able to safely make it to SDF lines within the last week, he added.

Omar Alloush, a member of a civilian council set up to run Raqqa, told Reuters late Friday that efforts were under way to secure the release of civilians and “a possible way to expel terrorist elements from Raqqa province,” without giving further details.

An activist group that reports on Raqqa, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said on its Facebook page Saturday that dozens of buses had entered Raqqa city overnight, having traveled from the northern Raqqa countryside.

The Observatory said Syrian Islamic State fighters and their families had left the city, and buses had arrived to evacuate remaining foreign fighters and their families. It did not say where they would be taken.

During the more than six-year Syrian war, the arrival of buses in a conflict zone has often signaled an evacuation of combatants and civilians.

The campaign against Islamic State in Syria is now focused on its last major foothold in the country, the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which neighbors Iraq.
Islamic State is facing separate offensives in Deir el-Zour by the SDF on one hand, and Syrian government forces supported by Iranian-backed militia and Russian airstrikes on the other. (VOA)