Small Wars Journal

Foreign Fighters Back Kurdish Militia in Syria in Fight Against Turkey

Foreign Fighters Back Kurdish Militia in Syria in Fight Against Turkey by Megan Specia – New York Times

The men in military fatigues, some covering their faces and clutching assault rifles, stand in an orchard, declaring that they have traveled to a battle zone in northern Syria to defend the Kurdish people.

One speaks with a French accent, another with an American one. Yet another is a Chinese-British citizen, who later confirmed in an interview by phone that he was in Syria, in the area at the center of the battle with Turkey.

The men in the video, posted to YouTube on Friday, come from seemingly diverse backgrounds. Yet all identify themselves by their Kurdish noms de guerre, adopted after they voluntarily joined a militia in one of the world’s most dangerous war zones.

They are among the dozens of fighters from around the globe who have joined the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, also known by the Kurdish initials Y.P.G. to take up arms in the fight in Syria. They say they are there to help Kurds, a group that has long been marginalized, without a nation of their own, but that gained control of territory in the Syrian conflict…

Now, some of those fighting alongside the Kurds are vowing to fight against Turkey. For the Westerners, their personal support for the group’s vision has largely fit with the interests of the American-led coalition for much of the war. The United States provides material support and training to the Syrian Defense Forces — dominated by the Kurdish fighters — in their campaign against the Islamic State…

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