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Ferhat Abdi Şahin, better known by his noms de guerre Mazlum Abdi,[2] Şahin Cilo,[3] and Mazlum Kobanê,[1] is a Syrian Kurdish military leader, serving as the commander-in-chief[a] of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).[7]

Mazlum Abdi
General Commander Mazlum Abdi.png
Mazlum Abdi in July 2019
Native name
Kurdish: Mazlûm Ebdî
Arabic: مظلوم عبدي
Birth nameFerhat Abdi Şahin
Other name(s)Şahin Cilo
Mazlum Kobanê (noms de guerre)
Allegiance PKK (formerly)[1]
SDF (2015–present)
RankGeneral Commander
Battles/warsKurdish–Turkish conflict
Syrian Civil War

Abdi first served with the Kurdistan Workers' Party within Syria[1] and was detained several times by the Syrian authorities. He joined the PKK in Turkey and conducted militant activities in rural areas of Şemdinli (Hakkâri Province) in 1996.[8] He later left to Europe where he was engaged in political work, later travelling to Iraq where he was again involved in military work.[6] In August 2014 he was in charge of the negotiations the People's Protection Units (YPG) held in Sulaymaniya with Iran and the United States in order to form an effective alliance against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), after which an alliance with the US was agreed to.[1] As the commander of the SDF, Abdi commands 70,000 troops.[9] Kobanê has stated that he is open to work together with the Syrian government within a federal system that includes the existing de facto autonomous Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.[10]

In the wake of the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria, Abdi has stated his willingness to ally with the Syrian regime in order to protect the local Kurdish as well as the Armenian and Assyrian population of Northern Syria from Turkish and Islamist aggression.[11] As part of a deal with the SDF, Syrian government troops have been given permission to occupy the towns of Manbij and Kobanî in the hopes of deterring further Turkish aggression.


  1. ^ In Kurmanji, Kobanê's rank is 'fermandarê giştî',[4] which literally translates as 'general commander'. English sources refer to him by multiple ranks, including 'commander-in-chief',[5] 'general',[1] or 'commander'.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Wright, Robin (2019-04-04). "How Trump Betrayed the General Who Defeated ISIS". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  2. ^ Wilgenburg, Wladimir van (3 May 2019). "Syrian Kurdish leader reveals indirect negotiations with Turkey". Kurdistan24. Kurdistan 24. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  3. ^ Chulov, Martin; Hawramy, Fazel (1 May 2017). "Ever-closer ties between US and Kurds stoke Turkish border tensions | Martin Chulov and Fazel Hawramy". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Ebdî: Em ê hêzeke leşkerî ava bikin ya ku wê bibe garantiya Sûriyeyê". ANF News (in Kurdish). 24 August 2019. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  5. ^ Said, Rodi (13 December 2018). Francis, Ellen; Perry, Tom; Chopra, Toby (eds.). "Exclusive: U.S.-backed SDF vows to fight any Turkish attack in north Syria". Reuters. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b Hubbard, Ben; Schmitt, Eric (2019-05-12). "They Were 'Comrades in Arms' Against ISIS. Now the U.S. Is Eyeing the Exit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  7. ^ Williams, Holly (October 2018). "What remains to be done in the final phase of America's war on ISIS". CBS News. CBS Interactive Inc. CBS. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  9. ^ Abdi, Mazloum. "If We Have to Choose Between Compromise and Genocide, We Will Choose Our People". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  10. ^ Rand, Alex (6 November 2017). "From Kobane to Raqqa". Middle East Studies Center. The Ohio State University. College of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  11. ^ Abdi, Mazloum. "If We Have to Choose Between Compromise and Genocide, We Will Choose Our People". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2019-10-14.

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