This page uses content from Wikipedia and is licensed under CC BY-SA.
|People's Protection Units|
|Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG) |
وحدات حماية الشعب
Flag of the YPG
|Allegiance|| Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (2012–present)|
Democratic Union Party (2004–present)
|Type||Light infantry militia with several motorised battalions|
|Size||20,000-30,000 (Including YPJ, 2017 estimate)|
|Part of||Syrian Democratic Forces|
|Motto(s)||YPG dimeşe, erd û ezman diheje (YPG is marching, and the earth and sky [or heavens] tremble)|
|Engagements||Syrian Civil War
|General Commander||Sîpan Hemo|
The People's Protection Units (Kurdish: ;یەکینەکانی پاراستنی گەل ;Yekîneyên Parastina Gel pronounced [jɛkiːnɛjeːn pɑːɾɑːstɯnɑː ɡɛl], Arabic: وحدات حماية الشعب, Classical Syriac: ܚܕܝ̈ܘܬܐ ܕܣܘܬܪܐ ܕܥܡܐ, translit. Ḥdoywotho d'Sutoro d'Amo; YPG) is a mainly-Kurdish militia in Syria and the primary component of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria's Syrian Democratic Forces. The YPG is mostly ethnically Kurdish, and also includes Arabs, foreign volunteers, and is closely allied to the Syriac Military Council, a militia of Assyrians.
The YPG was formed in 2004 as the armed wing of the Kurdish leftist Democratic Union Party. It expanded rapidly in the Syrian Civil War and came to predominate over other armed Kurdish groups. A sister group, the Women's Protection Units (YPJ), fights alongside them. The YPG is active in northern and eastern Syria.
In early 2015, the group won a major victory over ISIL at the Siege of Kobanî, where the YPG began to receive air and ground support from the United States and other coalition nations. Since then, the YPG has primarily fought against ISIL, as well as on occasion fighting other Syrian rebel groups.
In late 2015, the YPG founded the Syrian Democratic Forces upon the US's urging, as an umbrella group to better incorporate Arabs and minorities into the war effort. In 2016–2017, the SDF's Raqqa campaign captured the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital.
The YPG has been criticized by Turkey for its proved support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), especially since a rebellion in southern Turkey began in 2015. Turkey has designated the YPG as a terrorist organization, and in 2018 Turkey captured most of Afrin Canton from the YPG.
Kurdish youth attempted to unify themselves following the 2004 Qamishli riots. The riots began as clashes between rivaling football fans before taking a political turn, with Arab fans raising pictures of Saddam Hussein while the Kurdish fans supposedly proclaimed "We will sacrifice our lives for Bush". This resulted in clashes between the two groups who attacked each other with sticks, stones and knives. Government security forces entered the city to quell the riot, firing at the crowds. The riots resulted in around 36 dead, most of them Kurds.
Existing underground Kurdish political parties, namely the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC), joined to form the Kurdish Supreme Committee (KSC) and established the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia to defend Kurdish-inhabited areas in northern Syria.
In July 2012, the YPG had a standoff with Syrian government forces in the Kurdish city of Kobanî and the surrounding areas. After negotiations, government forces withdrew and the YPG took control of Kobanî, Amuda, and Afrin.
The YPG did not initially take an offensive posture in the Syrian Civil War. Aiming mostly to defend Kurdish-majority areas, it avoided engaging Syrian government forces, which still controlled several enclaves in Kurdish territory. The YPG changed this policy when Ras al-Ayn was taken by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. At first the YPG conquered the surrounding government-controlled areas: al-Darbasiyah (Kurdish: Dirbêsî), Tel Tamer and al-Malikiyah (Kurdish: Dêrika Hemko) in order to prevent the FSA from gaining more power in the area. The subsequent Battle of Ras al-Ayn started in earnest when on 19 November 2012, the al-Nusra Front and a second al-Qaeda affiliate, Ghuraba al-Sham, attacked Kurdish positions in the town. The battle ended with a YPG victory in July 2013.
While many rebel groups clashed with the YPG, jihadist and Salafist groups did so the most often. The YPG proved to be the only Kurdish militia able to effectively resist the fundamentalists. While the YPG protected the Kurdish communities it was able to extract a price: it prevented the emergence of new, rival militias and forced existing ones to cooperate with or join the YPG forces on its terms. This was how the Islamist attacks enabled the YPG to unite the Syrian Kurds under its banner and caused it to become the de facto army of the Syrian Kurds.
In October 2013, YPG fighters took control of al-Yaarubiyah (Til Koçer) following intense clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The clashes lasted about three days, with the Til Koçer border gate to Iraq being taken in a major offensive launched on the night of 24 October. PYD leader Saleh Muslim told Stêrk TV that this success created an alternative against efforts to hold the territory under embargo, referring to the fact that the other border crossings with Iraq led to areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government, while al-Yaarubiyah led to areas controlled by the Iraqi central government.
The inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War led to open war between the Free Syrian Army and ISIL in January 2014. The YPG collaborated with FSA groups to fight ISIL in Raqqa province; the group also formed an operations room with multiple FSA factions, called Euphrates Volcano. However, the general outcome of this campaign was a massive advance by ISIL, which effectively separated the eastern part of Rojava from the main force of FSA rebels. ISIL followed up on its success by attacking the YPG and the FSA in Kobanî Canton in March and fighting its way to the gates of the city of Kobanî in September. The actual Siege of Kobanî approximately coincided with an escalation in the American-led intervention in Syria. This intervention had started with aiding the FSA against the government, but when the FSA was getting defeated by ISIL in eastern Syria, it escalated to bombing ISIL on Syrian territory.
With the world fearing another massacre in Kobanî, American support increased substantially. The US gave intense close air support to the YPG, and in doing so, started military cooperation with one of the factions. While it expected that ISIL would quickly crush the YPG and the FSA, this alliance was not considered a problem for the US. The YPG won the battle in early 2015.
Meanwhile, the situation had been stable in Afrin and Aleppo. The fight between the FSA and ISIL had led to a normalization in the relations between FSA and YPG since the end of 2013. In February 2015, the YPG signed a judicial agreement with the Levant Front in Aleppo.
In the spring 2015, ISIL was close to capturing the Iraqi city of Ramadi.[relevant? ] The YPG was able and willing to offensively engage and put pressure on ISIL and had built up a track record as a reliable military partner of the US. With American close air support, offensives near Hasakah and from Hasakah westward culminated in the conquest of Tell Abyad, linking up Kobanî with Hasakah in July 2015.
With these offensives, the YPG had begun to make advances into areas that did not always have a Kurdish majority. When the YPG and the FSA entered the border town of Tell Abyad in June 2015, parts of the population fled the intense fighting and the airstrikes.
The Syrian Democratic Forces was established in Hasakah on 11 October 2015. It has its origins in the YPG-FSA collaboration against ISIL, which had previously led to the establishment of the Euphrates Volcano joint operations room in 2014. Many of the partners are the same, and even the logo / flag with the Blue Euphrates symbol has common traits with that of Euphrates Volcano. The primary difference is that Euphrates Volcano was limited to coordinating the activities of independent Kurdish and Arab groups, while the SDF is a single organisation made up of Kurds, Arabs, and Assyrians.
The first success of the SDF was the capture of the strategic ethnically Arab town of al-Hawl from ISIL during the al-Hawl offensive in November 2015. This was followed in December by the Tishrin Dam offensive. The dam was captured on 26 December. Participating forces included the YPG, the FSA group Army of Revolutionaries, the tribal group al-Sanadid Forces and the Assyrian Syriac Military Council. The coalition had some heavy weapons and was supported by intense US led airstrikes. The capture of the hydroelectric dam also had positive effects on the economy of Rojava.
In February, the YPG-majority SDF launched the al-Shaddadi offensive, followed by the Manbij offensive in May, and the Raqqa and Aleppo offensives in November. These operations extended SDF-controlled territory, usually at ISIL's expense.
On 7 April 2016, the Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsood in Aleppo was shelled with mortars that may have contained chemical agents (160 killed or wounded). Spokesperson for the YPG said that Saudi Arabia-backed Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) rebel group has attacked the Kurdish neighborhood of Aleppo with "forbidden weapons" many times since the war's start.
The Women's Protection Units (YPJ), also known as the Women's Defense Units, is the YPG's female brigade, which was set up in 2012. Kurdish media have said that YPJ troops became vital during the Siege of Kobanî. Consisting of approximately 20,000 fighters, they make up around 40% of the YPG.
In 2017, the YPG began to form units called regiments in translation, though they are smaller than comparable units in standard militaries.
|Afrin||1||Martyr Xebat Dêrik||27 Feb 2017||236 in 4 Btns.|
|Afrin||2||Martyr Afrin||20 April 2017||235|
|Afrin||3||Martyr Rojhilet||early June? 2017||236|
|Afrin||4||Martyr Mazloum||2 July 2017||234|
|Afrin||5||Martyr Alişêr||27 August 2017||303|
|Afrin||7||Martyr Jayan||23 Oct 2017||250|
|Afrin||8||Martyr Bahoz Afrin||18 Nov 2017||234|
|Kobane||1||?||13 Feb 2017||80|
|Kobane||2||Martyr Şevger Kobanî Regiment||18 Feb 2017||90|
|Jazira - al-Hasakah||1||Jian Judy and Dogan Fadel||20 July 2017||500|
|Jazira - Girkê Legê||3||Qereçox Martyrs||12 July 2017||200|
|Aleppo||1||Martyr Baqour||30 Sep 2017||55 (Abu Shayar btn.)|
|Tabqa (SDF)||1||Martyr Haboun Arab||14 Nov 2017||250|
According to a report in IHS Jane's regarding the YPG,
Relying on speed, stealth, and surprise, it is the archetypal guerrilla army, able to deploy quickly to front lines and concentrate its forces before quickly redirecting the axis of its attack to outflank and ambush its enemy. The key to its success is autonomy. Although operating under an overarching tactical rubric, YPG brigades are inculcated with a high degree of freedom and can adapt to the changing battlefield.
The YPG relies heavily on snipers and backs them by suppressing enemy fire using mobile heavy machine guns. It also uses roadside bombs to prevent outflanking maneuvers, particularly at night. Its lines have generally held when attacked by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces who have better equipment, including helmets and body armor.
The YPG considers itself a people's army, and therefore appoints officers by internal elections.
A 20 year old female YPG fighter named Zlukh Hamo (Nom de guerre: Avesta Khabur) was reported to have carried out a suicide attack towards Turkish troops and a tank during the early phase of the Afrin Offensive, killing herself and several soldiers with her in the process. The attacked was commended by pro-SDF sources as a courageous attack against a tank with explosives, with her dying in the process.
Compared to other factions engaged in the Syrian Civil war, the YPG has not received significant foreign assistance in the form of weapons and military equipment. According to the YPG, circumstances led to their capture of less equipment from the Syrian Army than other opposition groups did. The figures below are estimates only based on the balance sheet that the YPG regularly publishes of its activities.
|Name||Country of origin||Type||Number||Caliber||Notes|
|Makarov pistol||Soviet Union||Pistol||Thousands||9×18mm||1|
|Browning Hi-Power||Belgium||Pistol||Thousands||9×19mm|
|Glock||Austria||Pistol||unknown||9×19mm||1 2 3|
|Beretta M12||Italy||Submachine Gun||Thousands||9×19mm||1|
|MP5||Germany||Submachine Gun||unknown||9×19mm||1 2 3|
|M4 carbine||United States||Assault rifle||Thousands||5.56×45mm||1 2 3 4 5|
|M16 rifle||United States||Assault rifle||Thousands||5.56×45mm||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9|
|FN FAL||Belgium||Battle rifle||unknown||7.62×51mm||1 2 3 4 5|
|Steyr AUG||Austria||Bullpup assault rifle||unknown||5.56×45mm||1|
|Steyr HS .50||Austria||Anti-materiel sniper rifle||unknown||12.7×99mm||1 2|
|Zagros Rifle||Rojava||Anti-materiel rifle||Hundreds||12.7×108mm||self made anti-materiel rifle 1 2 3|
|Zijiang M99||China||Anti-materiel rifle||unknown||12.7×108mm||1 2 3 4|
|AK-47||Soviet Union||Assault rifle||Tens of Thousands||7.62×39mm||1 2 3 4 5 6 7|
|AKM||Soviet Union||Assault rifle||Tens of Thousands||7.62×39mm||1|
|AK-74||Soviet Union||Assault rifle||?||5.45×39mm||1|
|AK-104||Russia||Assault rifle||?||7.62×39mm||1 2 3|
|Type 56||China||Assault rifle||Tens of Thousands||7.62×39mm||1 2 3|
|Type 88||North Korea||Assault rifle||unknown||5.45×39mm|
|PM md. 63/65||Socialist Republic of Romania||Assault rifle||Tens of Thousands||7.62×39mm||1 2 3|
|MPi-KM||East Germany||Assault rifle||Tens of Thousands||7.62×39mm||1 2 3|
|AK-63||Hungary||Assault rifle||Tens of Thousands||7.62×39mm|
|AMD 65||Hungary||Assault rifle||Tens of Thousands||7.62×39mm||1|
|Kbk wz. 1988 Tantal||Poland||Assault rifle||unknown||5.45×39mm||1|
|Blaser R93 Tactical||Germany||Sniper rifle||unknown||7.62×51mm||1|
|Dragunov sniper rifle||Soviet Union||Sniper rifle||unknown||7.62×54mmR||1 2 3 4|
|PSL (rifle)||Socialist Republic of Romania||Sniper rifle||unknown||7.62×54mmR||1 2 3|
|Tabuk Sniper Rifle||Iraq||Sniper rifle||unknown||7.62×39mm||1|
|Mosin–Nagant||Soviet Union||Rifle||unknown||7.62×54mmR||1 2|
|Rheinmetall MG 3||Germany||General-purpose machine gun||Few||7.62×51mm||1|
|FN MAG||Belgium||General-purpose machine gun||Few||7.62×51mm||1|
|M249||United States||Light machine gun||unknown||5.56×45mm||1|
|RPK||Soviet Union||Light machine gun||unknown||7.62×39mm||1|
|Ultimax 100||Singapore||Light machine gun||unknown||5.56×45mm|
|Zastava M72||Yugoslavia||Light machine gun||unknown||7.62×39mm||1|
|PK machine gun||Soviet Union||General-purpose machine gun||Hundreds||7.62×54mmR||1 2 3|
|Zastava M84||Yugoslavia||General-purpose machine gun||Hundreds||7.62×54mmR||1|
|M2 Browning||United States||Heavy machine gun||unknown||12.7×99mm||1|
|M1919 Browning machine gun||United States||Medium machine gun||unknown||7.62×51mm||1 2|
|DShK||Soviet Union||Heavy machine gun||Hundreds||12.7×108mm||1 2 3 4|
|KPV heavy machine gun||Soviet Union||Heavy machine gun||Hundreds||14.5×114mm||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9|
|Name||Country of origin||Type||Number||Caliber||Notes|
|RPG-7||Soviet Union||Rocket-propelled grenade||Thousands||40mm||YPG's RPG are supposed to be of this type 1 2 3 4|
|Type 69 RPG||China||Rocket-propelled grenade||Thousands||40mm||1 2|
|M79 Osa||Yugoslavia||Anti-tank weapon||Few||90mm||1 2 3 4|
|FGM-148 Javelin||United States||Anti-tank missile||unknown||127mm||Disputed, spotted in YPG hands in February 2016 1 2|
|Mk 19||United States||Grenade launcher||unknown||40×53mm||1|
|GP-25||Russia||Grenade launcher||unknown||40 mm||1|
|MILAN||France||Anti-tank missile||unknown||115mm||1 2 3|
|BGM-71 TOW||United States||Anti-tank missile||unknown||152mm||1|
|AT-4 Spigot||Soviet Union||Anti-tank missile||unknown||120mm||1|
|AT-5 spandrel||Russia||Anti-tank missile||unknown||115mm||1|
|AT-13 Saxhorn-2||Russia||Anti-tank missile||unknown||130mm||1|
|SPG-9||Soviet Union||Recoilless Rifle||unknown||73mm||1|
|IED||Rojava||Improvised explosive device||unknown||N/a|
|Name||Country of origin||Type||Number||Caliber||Notes|
|82-BM-37||Soviet Union||Mortar||A dozen||82mm||captured, SAA had 200|
|M1938 mortar||Soviet Union||Mortar||A dozen||120mm||captured, SAA had 300|
|120-PM-43 mortar||Soviet Union||Mortar||A dozen||120mm||captured, SAA had 400|
|Improvised mortars||Syria||Improvised mortars||Several||Various||Captured from Syrian Opposition|
|Hell Cannon||Syria||Improvised mortars||Several||Various||Captured from Free Syrian Army|
All are pickup trucks which were either modified to hold weapons, or are used to transport troops to battlefields.
|Name||Country of origin||Type||Number||Notes|
|Toyota Hilux||Japan||Improvised fighting vehicle||Thousands|
|Name||Country of origin||Type||# in Afrin||# in East Rojava||Notes|
|Humvee||United States||Armoured fighting vehicle||0||Dozens||20+ received as aid in November 2017 . Others captured from ISIS, whom likely captured from Iraqi military forces donated by the United States when they left Iraq.|
|T-55 with 2*14.5MG||Soviet Union||Main battle tank||0||1||Well designed local variant with twin 14.5MG, used in eastern Syria|
|T-55||Soviet Union||Main battle tank||0||6?||Captured from the Menagh Military Airbase.|
|T-72||Soviet Union||Main battle tank||2||0||At least 1 used in the Northern Aleppo offensive (2016), 1 destroyed by the Falcons of Mount Zawiya Brigade|
|Shilka||Soviet Union||SPAAG||0||1||Captured from ISIS at the Tirshrin Damn|
|MT-LB||Soviet Union||Armored personnel carrier||0||4||Captured from the Islamic State. Originally from Iraq.|
|BTR-60||Soviet Union||Wheeled amphibious armored personnel carrier||0||at least 1|
Ex–U.S. Army soldier Jordan Matson was among the first foreign volunteers of the YPG. Injured by an ISIL suicide bomb, he developed the "Lions of Rojava" recruitment campaign for foreign volunteers, launched on 21 October 2014 on Facebook. More than 400 volunteers from Europe, the Americas and Australia have joined the YPG as of 11 June 2015[update], including at least ten U.S. volunteers, three of which were U.S. Army veterans. People from both China and the Chinese diaspora have also joined.
Dozens of non-Kurdish Turks (from both Turkey and the European diaspora) have also joined. The Turkish Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) has been sending volunteers to fight in the YPG since 2012. At least four have been killed in battle as of February 2015—one during the Battle of Ras al-Ayn and three during the Siege of Kobanî. The party released a video in late January 2015 showing several Spanish- and German-speaking volunteers from Europe among its ranks in Jazira Canton; they were reorganised into the International Freedom Battalion on 10 June 2015.
On 26 February 2015, the death of the first foreign volunteer to be killed in action with the YPG was announced. Ashley Johnston, 28, of Canberra, with Kurdish nom-de-guerre Heval Bagok, had travelled to Syrian Kurdistan in October 2014, volunteered as a humanitarian aid worker, and later decided to serve as a front-line fighter with the YPG. The official command of YPG paid tribute after his death in action against ISIL. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, a British former Royal Marine from Barnsley, was killed on 2 March 2015 near the north-east Syrian town of Tel Hamis. The American Keith Broomfield, 36, was killed fighting against ISIS in Syria in August 2015.  One known Canadian was killed on 4 November 2015, who previously served with the Canadian Forces. Six Western volunteers were killed in the battle for the town of Manbij from June to August 2016. A Portuguese fighter, Mario Nunes, was killed in June, Levi Jonathan "Jack" Shirley, from Colorado, US, was killed on 14 July, Dean Carl Evans, born in Reading, UK, was killed on 21 July, Martin Gruden, born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, was killed on 27 July, Jordan MacTaggart, from Colorado, U.S., was killed on 3 August and William Savage, from Maryland, U.S., was killed on 10 August. During the YPG and Arab allies assault on the IS held village of Erima on 24 November 2016, Michael Israel from California, U.S., a member of Industrial Workers of the World organization and Anton Leschek from Germany died in Turkish airstrikes. Ryan Lock, 20, from Chichester, West Sussex, UK, and Nazzareno Antonio Tassone, 24, from Keswick, Ontario, Canada, were killed on the battlefield during an operation north of Raqqa on 21 December 2016. The American Paolo Todd was killed in clashes against ISIS in the village of Little Swadiyah, north of Raqqa on 22 January 2017. The U.S. citizen Albert Avery Harrington died on 25 January 2017 of injuries sustained seven days earlier by a car bomb attack in the village of Suwaydiya Al-Saghirah in Al-Raqqa. 28-year-old Robert Grodt from Santa Cruz, California, was killed on 6 July 2017 and the 29-year-old Nicholas Warden, from Buffalo, New York, was killed on 5 July 2017, both the two U.S. citizens were killed while fighting for YPG against ISIL in the outskirts of Raqqa. Grodt was a former Occupy Wall Street protester and Warden was a veteran of the U.S. Army who had served in Afghanistan and reached the rank of sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division. The 22-year-old Briton, Luke Rutter of Birkenhead, U.K. was killed in the same IS ambush as Grodt and Warden in the suburbs of Raqqa on 6 July 2017. A former Marine fighting for the YPG, the 25-year-old David Taylor who grew up in Ocala, Florida, was killed fighting ISIS on 16 July 2017 by an improvised explosive device in Syria. Sniper Jac Holmes, a 24-year-old former IT worker and decorator from Bournemouth in southern England, who was fighting with YPG which he had joined in January 2015, was clearing mines in Raqqa, when he was killed on 23 October 2017, after an explosive device went off close to him. The French national Olivier Francois Jean Le Clainche, 41, born in Malestroit, Spain in 1977, and the Spanish national Samuel Prada Leon, 25, born in Ourense, Spain in 1993, were killed in clashes with Turkish and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army forces at the Jandairis front in the south-western part of Afrin on 10 February 2018. The Dutch national Sjoerd Heeger, 25, was killed fighting IS in Syria's eastern Deir el-Zour province on 12 February 2018.
While most countries do not object in principle to their citizens joining the ranks of the YPG, Turkey has been vocal against YPG's foreign recruits.
Several Australians, including former trade unionist and politician Matthew Gardiner, have been involved with the YPG despite threats by Australia to prosecute any citizens involved in the Syrian Civil War. Under Australian law it is a criminal offence to fight with any side in a foreign conflict.
Because the YPG operates in a landlocked territory, rival opposition groups as well as the Turkish and Syrian government were able to physically prevent foreign aid from reaching it. The YPG's seizure of Til Koçer in October 2013 (cf. above) created an overland connection to more or less friendly groups in Iraq, but could not change the even more fundamental problem that the YPG had no allies willing to provide equipment.
The United States provided the YPG with air support during the Siege of Kobanî and during later campaigns, helping the YPG defend territory against attacks by the Islamic State. Turkey has criticised US support.
The YPG also received 27 bundles totalling 24 tons of small arms and ammunition and 10 tons of medical supplies from the United States and Iraqi Kurdistan during the Siege.
On 11 October 2015, the US began an operation to airdrop 120 tons of military supplies to the YPG and its local Arab and Turkmen allies to fight ISIL north of Raqqa. The first airdrop consisted of 112 pallets of ammunition and 'other items like hand grenades', totaling 50 tons. However, statements from the US that the aid did not contain TOW's or anti-aircraft weapons made it clear that the U.S. continued to have serious regard for the interests of Turkey, which has warned against continued US support for the YPG. On the other hand, the US also supported Islamist rebel groups who fought the YPG. During the Battle of Aleppo, the US-backed Mountain Hawks Brigade battled the YPG and the Army of Revolutionaries for control of the village of Maryamin.
US aid to the YPG continued in late October with the deployment of up to 50 US special forces to assist the YPG, and an enhanced air campaign to support the YPG and local militia groups in their fight against ISIS. Some of these special forces participated in the al-Shaddadi offensive (2016) and coordinated airstrikes against ISIL.
During the Battle of Tabqa (2017), YPG special forces were equipped with US-supplied combat helmets, AN/PVS-7 night vision devices, flashlights, and were armed with M4 carbines equipped with AN/PEQ-2 laser sights, holographic weapon sights, and STANAG magazines.
On 9 May 2017, it was announced by the Pentagon that American President Donald Trump approved of a plan that would have the United States directly provide heavy armaments to the major SDF component group, the YPG; the plan comes before a planned final offensive to capture Raqqa from ISIL.
With Russia's entrance into the war in late 2015 backing the Syrian government, some reports have alleged that the YPG coordinated with or received weapons from Russia, with rival opposition groups claiming that the timing and targeting of Russian airstrikes were suspiciously advantageous to the Kurdish militias.
Despite this, YPG officials have denied any coordination with Russia.
Russia's position towards the YPG is not clear, and the US actively supports it, but their diplomatic relations with the PYD are the opposite. In January 2016 Russia pushed for the inclusion of the PYD in the Geneva talks. In February 2016 the PYD opened a branch representative office in Moscow. In contrast to this the YPG denied any coordination with officials from the U.S. State Department. The YPG would like to open a representative branch in the US, but in March 2016 interview its leader implied that it was not allowed to do so.
The YPG's press office media operation has been a particular focus of its opponents, with Turkey bombing its premises in Cizire Canton in April 2017, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) singling out its premises in Raqqa for a raid during the late stages of the Battle of Raqqa in September 2017.
The U.S. State Department reacted by starting an inquiry into the allegations. Its initial reaction to the report was quite skeptical, claiming it had to determine if there was "any veracity to the claims", but showed concern by calling for any administrator in the area to rule "with respect for all groups regardless of ethnicity". The fact that the report does not make any claim of the YPG targeting people based on ethnicity was probably one of the reasons why they did not take it seriously, especially when there were dozens of similar reports regarding the Syrian government, Al-Nusra Front and Free Syrian Army, who have all committed serious war crimes.
In a report published by the United Nations' Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on 10 March 2017, the Commission refuted Amnesty International's claims of ethnic cleansing, stating that "'though allegations of 'ethnic cleansing' continued to be received during the period under review, the Commission found no evidence to substantiate claims that YPG or SDF forces ever targeted Arab communities on the basis of ethnicity."
In October 2015, Amnesty International published a report with claims that the YPG had driven at least 100 families from northern Syria and that in the villages of Asaylem and Husseiniya it had demolished resident homes. The report was made by Amnesty visiting the area contained in the report. It made local observations of destruction, and collected testimonies from former and actual residents of al-Hasakeh and Raqqa governorates. It found cases of YPG fighters forcibly displacing residents and using fire and bulldozers to raze homes and other structures.
Forced displacement of civilians and destruction of civilian property is not a war crime per se. These acts only become a war crime when there is no "imperative military necessity" for them. Amnesty International claims the report documents cases in which there was no such justification. It furthermore claims that "the circumstances of some of these displacements suggested that they were carried out in retaliation for people's perceived sympathies with, or family ties to, suspected members of ISIL or other armed groups", thus constituting "collective punishment, which is a violation of international humanitarian law".
In interviews, YPG spokespersons acknowledged that a number of families were in fact displaced. However, they placed the number at no more than 25, and claimed military necessity. They stated that the family members of terrorists maintained communications with them, and therefore had to be removed from areas where they might pose a danger. They further stated that ISIL was using civilians in those areas to plant car bombs or carry out other attacks on the YPG. By describing the events in Hammam al-Turkman before the village was evacuated, the report itself inadvertently supports these claims of military necessity.
In June 2014, Human Rights Watch criticized the YPG for accepting minors into their ranks, picking up on multiple earlier reports of teenage fighters serving in the YPG, with a report by the United Nations Secretary General stating that 24 minors under age of 18 had been recruited by YPG, with 124 having been recruited by the Free Syrian Army and 5 by the Syrian Arab Army. In response, the YPG and YPJ signed the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination in July 2014, and Kurdish security forces (YPG and Asayish) began receiving human rights training from Geneva Call and other international organisations with the YPG pledging publicly to demobilize all fighters under 18 within a month and began to enact disciplinary measures against commanders of the units that had involved in corruption and accepting recruit under age of 18 to their ranks. In October 2015 the YPG demobilized 21 minors from the military service in its ranks.
A member of YPG’s central command … said that the YPG formed in 2004 shortly after the Qamishlo riots, when a number of Kurdish youth realized that they needed to be able to defend themselves more efficiently. They did not officially declare themselves until the revolution started in 2011.
Kurdish Information Center
While rebel groups from across the ideological spectrum have clashed with the PYD, jihadi and Salafi groups have done so most aggressively and consistently
The PYD’s growing influence largely has come at the expense of other Kurdishgroups. In particular, it has prevented emergence of new, rival militias while forcing existing ones to cooperate with or join PYD forces on their terms
Crisis Group interview, Erbil, 4 July 2013: Intensified Islamist attacks in Kurdish areas shifted Kurdish public opinion toward the PYD. A resident of Tell Tamr, a partly Kurdish town targeted by armed Islamist groups, said, “in the aftermath of the battle of Ras al-Ayn, Islamists entered Tell Tamr. They began kidnapping and killing Kurds. I am not a YPG supporter, and I will never be. But if it weren’t for the YPG, not a single Kurd would be left in the [al-] Jazeera region”. Crisis Group interview, Erbil, July 2013. A journalist working for a pro-KDP channel commented: “I was the most critical person against the PYD. But at the moment, I have to admit that they are saving the people from the worst”.
"At the same time, Ankara turned a blind eye to the Islamist fighters crossing from Turkey into Syria, viewing them – in addition to helping bring down the Assad regime – as potential counterweights to the PYD. The strategy backfired; the PYD not only gained territory, but also bolstered its appeal among Kurds as their only protector from jihadis. In September 2013, a Turkish official acknowledged: “We made the PYD stronger by trying to undermine it”
Thousands of Syrians cut through a border fence and crossed over into Turkey … fleeing intense fighting … between Kurdish fighters and jihadis.
Colonel Talal Selo ... said the rapid advance overnight by thousands of troops from the Democratic Forces of Syria had brought the dam ... under their control on Saturday.... Selo said ... the latest round of fighting ... involved several thousand fighters from the Democratic Forces of Syria with heavy armour.
Tishrin is an incredible dam, not least of all because of the fact that it sits cradled in a beautiful lush valley, in an otherwise dry and arid land. But also because of what Tishrin implies for the people of Rojava who have survived for the past two years under incredible economic and political conditions, exacerbated significantly by lack of access to water and electricity which Tishrin provides.
Former international junior bench press champion Ashley Dyball … wrote on Facebook, ‘The s--- you see here is nothing like you see on the bias news reports, the Islamic state must be stopped and if it means I can’t come home f--- it.’ … Dyball faces prosecution if he returns.
Turkey had told ... the US that YPG forces would not be permitted to proceed beyond the Euphrates. In an apparent rebuke ... Kerry [said]: “We’re … enhancing our air campaign in order to help drive Da’esh, which once dominated the Syria–Turkey border, out of the last seventy-mile stretch...”Review of Out of Nowhere: The Kurds of Syria in Peace and War, by Michael M. Gunter.
The West is fully aware that the Syrian Democratic Forces are an important and reliable active on the ground, hence the military support. Unfortunately, they have not yet approached us at a political level while they keep their ties with Saudi Arabia, Turkey ... However, we do hope political relations to materialize among us in the future.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he was troubled by the advance of Kurdish forces, saying they could in the future create a structure to threaten Turkey.
We’ll look closely at all these accusations to determine whether there's any veracity to the claims ... We call on those who actually are or will participate in administering these areas to do so inclusively and with respect for all groups regardless of ethnicity
In July and August 2015 Amnesty International investigated the forced displacement of residents from 10 villages and towns in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration
Of 225 buildings visible [in Husseiniya] in June 2014, only 14 were still standing by June 2015.
this report documents cases in which there was no such justification
The circumstances of some of the instances of forced displacement documented in this report suggest that they were carried out in retaliation for people's perceived sympathies with, or family ties to, suspected members of IS or other armed groups. This would constitute collective punishment, which is a violation of international humanitarian law.
In some dangerous areas there are some specific cases that are very small, resulting from the terrorist threat, where families were sent away from the area ... Only 25 families were forced to leave across Rojava ... (They are told) 'Folks, remove your things please, and if you leave from this area until the war ends it will be a good thing ...' You have terrorists in al-Raqqa and their families – the uncle, and brother, and sister – are here, and they are in communication, giving them information. We were forced to distance these families. Not detain them. Distance them. Take them outside of the area.
He added that IS was benefiting from the presence of civilians in these areas, and using them to plant car bombs or carry out other attacks on the YPG.
After the YPG took the village, on 15 June, a car bomb killed three YPG fighters 4km from Hammam al-Turkman at a checkpoint in Damishli. The following day there were skirmishes between the YPG and IS in the village before IS was pushed back. A second car bomb went off at a YPG checkpoint at the health clinic in the village on 18 June killing a YPG fighter and injuring one civilian and three days later IS shot and killed a second YPG fighter near the clinic. It was after the death of this fighter that the residents were told by the YPG that they had to leave the village.
Actual numbers are expected to be higher.... A number of pro-Government groups, including Hizbullah, also reportedly recruited children in small numbers.
Amnesty International this month faulted the Kurdish administration for arbitrary detentions and unfair trials.... [Ciwan] Ibrahim said ... efforts were underway to improve its human rights record.... The Geneva Call ... promotes good treatment of civilians in war zones...
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to [[commons:Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Linguistic' not found.|Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Linguistic' not found.]].|