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People's Protection Units

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People's Protection Units

People's Protection Units
Official flag of the People's Protection Units
Active 2011–present
Country Syria
Allegiance Western Kurdistan[1]
Democratic Union Party (de facto)
Type Army
Role Regional defence
Light Infantry
Size 45,000[2][3]–50,000[4]
Nickname YPG

Syrian Civil War

General Commander Sipan Hemo
Spokesperson Rêdûr Xelîl
Spokesperson Khebat Ibrahim
Nujin Dirik (Aleppo commander)
Giwan Ibrahim (Qamishli commander)
Cemşîd Osman (Ras al-Ayn commander)
Roshna Akeed (Ras al-Ayn commander)
Map showing de facto cantons of Western Kurdistan (Rojava), controlled by the People's Protection Units in February 2014

The People's Protection Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel; Arabic: وحدات حماية الشعب[5] Wihdat Himayah ash-Sha'ab), commonly known as the YPG, is the national army of Syrian Kurdistan.[6] The group has taken a defensive position, fighting against any group that has the intention of bringing the Syrian Civil War to Kurdish inhabited areas.[6][7]

The group was founded by the PYD and the Kurdish Supreme Committee after the 2004 Qamishli clashes but it was not active until the Syrian Civil War.[6] As of the signing of the Arbil Agreement by PYD and KNC the Armed Wing came under the command of the Kurdish supreme Committee, though in reality it is almost exclusively still the armed wing of the former[8]—and is responsible for maintaining order and protecting the lives of residents in Kurdish neighbourhoods.[9][10][11]

The YPG is composed of men and women from communities across the Kurdish region of Syria. The YPG considers itself a democratic people's army and conducts internal elections as a method of appointing officers.[12] Though predominantly Kurdish, the group has attracted increasing numbers of Arabs, including fighters defecting from the mainstream opposition[13] as well as locals from mixed or Arab villages in YPG-controlled territory who see the group as the best guarantor of regional security;[14] a number of non-Kurdish Christians also fight in YPG ranks, and the militia has close ties to the Assyrian/Syriac Sutoro and Syriac Military Council. They are known for their large number of women fighters.[15]

In late July 2012, the People's Protection Units pushed out government security forces from the city of Kobanî (Ayn al-Arab) and took over Amuda and Efrîn.[10][11][16] As of December 2012, the YPG consists of eight brigades. Some of these brigades operate in Efrin, Qamishli, Kobanî and Sere Kanye.[17]

Conflict has grown between the YPG and Islamists after they expelled a group of jihadists from the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain.[18]

In 2014, the YPG collaborated with the Free Syrian Army in order to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Ar-Raqqah Governorate.[19] The YPG has also formed an operations room with multiple FSA factions called Euphrates Volcano.[20]

Liberation of Til Koçer

People's Defense Units (YPG) fighters took control of the Til Koçer city in Western Kurdistan, following severe clashes with al-Qaeda-linked armed groups.

Til Koçer, on the border with the city of Musul in Iraq, has been rescued following the "Tırbespiyê" and "Til Elo Martyrs" operations YPG launched on 23 October.

Clashes between YPG and the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) militants in the city lasted till early morning on Sunday. YPG fighters cleared the city of the armed groups and also seized their five tanks, different kinds of missiles and weapons.

Following the two revolutionary operations, YPG fighters took the control of seven villages and three hamlets, and also seized the armed groups' many headquarters in Til Koçer, since 23 October.

Two villages, a headquarters and Til Koçer border gate (Alyarubia) were also taken by YPG fighters in the major offensive they launched on the night of 24 October.

PYD (Democratic Union Party) leader Saleh Muslim who spoke to Stêrk TV on Saturday said that the YPG success in Til Koçer was the "victory of the entire Kurdistan".

Muslim remarked that the developments in Til Koçer would also lead to changes in the political and economic situation in West Kurdistan, and said this success has created an alternative against the efforts and intentions to hold the entire West Kurdistan territory under embargo.

PYD leader noted that the Til Koçer border gate was a new alternative for trade against embargo.[21]

Foreign volunteers

As of November 2014, there are at least 10 U.S. volunteers who have fought alongside the YPG.[22] Jordan Matson served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army.[23] Jeremy Woodard served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.[24] Brian Wilson, another U.S. Army veteran,[25] is located in Ras al-Ayn.[24]

One Greek citizen and dozens of non Kurdish Turks have also joined the ranks of YPG. At least two Turkish volunteers have been killed in action.[22]

On 21 October 2014, YPG launched the "The Lions Of Rojava" Facebook page as recruitment center for foreign volunteers.[26][27]


The YPJ (Women's Protection Units) is the female brigade of the YPG, and was set up in 2012. The Kurdish media says that "YPJ troops have become vital in the battle against I.S." in Kobanî.[28]

See also


  1. ^ "PYD Announces Surprise Interim Government in Syria's Kurdish Regions". Rudaw. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Kurds Build Bridges At Last". Inter Press Service. 13 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Die Saat geht auf". Junge Welt. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "In Syria, Kurds are fighting their own war against Islamists, and winning". Public Radio International. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "صالح مسلم: وحدات حماية الشعب قوة لحماية شعب غرب كردستان، وغير تابعة لنا". Hawar News. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Gold, Danny (31 October 2010). "Meet the YPG, the Kurdish Militia That Doesn't Want Help from Anyone". Vice. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "YPG Commander: Kurds Are Bulwark Against Islamic Extremism in Syria". Rudaw. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  8. ^ van Wilgenburg, Wladimir (5 April 2013). "Conflict Intensifies in Syria's Kurdish Area". Syria Pulse (Al Monitor). Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "The battle for control in Syria". Daily News Egypt. 21 July 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Liberated Kurdish Cities in Syria Move into Next Phase". Rudaw. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Kurdish muscle flexing".  
  12. ^ "A Rare Glimpse into Kurdish Armed Forces in Syria". Rudaw. 
  13. ^ Meseguer, David (9 February 2013). "Arabs join Kurdish militia in Aleppo". Firat News. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Smith, Hannah Lucinda (23 December 2013). "The Boy who Grew up to Betray his Village". Asharq Al-Awsat. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Al Nusra attacks YPG's women fighters in Serekaniye". Firat News. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Kurds Give Ultimatum to Syrian Security Forces". Rudaw. 21 July 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "The Kurdish Protection Units Have Formed a New Brigade in the Al Bab Region". Scientia Humana. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Kurds expel jihadists from flashpoint Syrian town: NGO". Al Ahram. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "FSA and YPG cooperate against ISIL militants in Syria's Tel Abyad". ARA News. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  20. ^ "YPG and FSA form a joint military chamber to combat ISIS in Syria". ARA News. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "YPG takes control of Til Koçer". FiratNews. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Western "comrades" join Kurds, Arabs, secularists, Yezidis, and Syriac Christians against Islamic State". Mashable. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "Exclusive: American explains why he's fighting ISIL". USA Today. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  24. ^ a b "The US volunteers who fight with Syria's Kurds". BBC. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  25. ^ "A Divorced Father-of-Two from Ohio Is Fighting the Islamic State in Syria". BBC. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  26. ^ "The Lions of Rojava". BBC. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  27. ^ "Kobani Kurds Use Facebook To Recruit Foreign Fighters In Struggle Against IS". BBC. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  28. ^ "Kurdish Women Turning Kobani into a Living 'Hell' for Islamic State". telesur. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 

External links

  • Lions of Rojava
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