Latest News Rojava US–Kurdish Relations

U.S. Calls Kurdish YPG Forces Partners, Not Terrorists

Early last week, U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby verified the United States’ stance that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are not terrorists, and that the United States believes that the YPG are effective partners in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

At Odds with Turkey

In recent weeks, the Turkish government has been conducting airstrikes on the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a Kurdish political organization with whom the YPG is affiliated. Along with these airstrikes, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly raised concerns about the YPG, calling them terrorists and threatening to conduct airstrikes if the YPG acts out against Turkey.

While his words did not clear the name of the PKK, John Kirby spoke out in support of the Kurdish YPG, and said that the United States will continue to work with the YPG and other effective forces on the ground in Syria. Said Kirby,

We don’t consider the YPG a terrorist organization, and they have proven successful against ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] inside Syria. And as I said, we’re going to continue to work with counter-ISIL fighters who are and can be successful against this group.

A Key Partner Against ISIS

This is not the first time that a U.S. official has recognized the success of the YPG against the Islamic State. Several months ago, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter praised the effective ability of the YPG to counter the Islamic State.

The United States has been working with the Kurdish YPG to degrade, defeat and destroy the self-declared Islamic State in the Kurdish region of Syria. Most notably were US-led airstrikes in the Kurdish-majority town of Kobani in December. These airstrikes ultimately drove Islamic State terrorists from the town, and the YPG is currently working with the United States to push ISIS back even further.

In a recent interview, YPG spokesperson Polet Can described the US-YPG relationship as “strengthening every day,” and that “Kurds are the key for many solutions to the outstanding problems in the region.”

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