Syrian Kurds ally with rebel groups to fight ISIS

Vice reports: Kurdish and rebel armed groups fighting extremist militants the Islamic State (IS) in Syria have agreed to join forces against their common enemy, the latest in a complex and shifting series of battlefield allegiances.

Units affiliated with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Islamic Front (IF) and US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) will form a new coalition named Burkan al-Forat (Euphrates Volcano) after the river which flows through the region in which the agreement was formalized.

The alliance was announced via a video posted on Wednesday in which a man read a statement in front of an armed group including a number of women fighters backed by YPG pennants alongside the three-starred flag of Syrian opposition groups and others. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the news.

The man asked those who had joined IS to desert the group, called for assistance from the international community and finished by saying that the coalition wished to free all areas of Syria under IS control, including Qaraqozaq, Jarabulus, Sirin, Manbaj and Raqqa.

Syrian rebel groups have not always had a smooth relationship with Kurdish militias. The YPG, which is the main force in majority Kurdish parts of the country, has maintained an uneasy truce with President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the region, leading some rebels to accuse them of colluding with the government, a charge the Kurds deny.

However, it has been instrumental in the fight against IS and has been one of the few forces to mount an effective defense against the jihadis, inflicting heavy losses against them clashes across northern Syria and stymying their efforts to extend control into Kurdish regions. Problematically for the US, the YPG is affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), an organization which is on both America and the EU’s terrorist blacklist. [Continue reading…]

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