US vets among YPG ranks, anti-ISIS fight not priority
by Yunus Paksoy
ISTANBULSep 08, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Yunus Paksoy
Sep 08, 2015 12:00 am
A recent study found that dozens of U.S. civilians and veterans in their 20s and 30s have joined the PKK- affiliated Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG) to support the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the period between August 2014 and the beginning of August 2015. A U.S. Marines veteran hinted at the YPG's main objective, saying it is not what people think it is.
According to a study conducted by U.K.-based Bellingcat, an investigative journalist organization, at least 108 Americans from 31 different states have actively participated in the fight against ISIS with the YPG, 70 of which are assumed to still be abroad. The report says 68 percent of volunteers, namely 73 Americans, have served in the U.S. military with different tasks in every branch except for the coast guard.
As mentioned earlier, more than two-thirds of the soldiers have previous military experience prior to their journey to northern Syria. The volunteers earn their livings back home working as gunsmiths, police officers, software engineers and other professions.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, two U.S. veterans, Bruce Windorski, 40, and Jamie Lane, 29, told the story of how they ended up with the YPG in northern Syria and what they think of other U.S. citizens joining the fight.
A combat veteran from the U.S. Marines, Lane appears to have regretted the decision to join the ranks, making his dissatisfaction known in the interview. "It's not what you're thinking. You're not going to fight ISIS. You're fighting for the revolution of Rojava," he said, explicitly revealing the main PYD agenda.
The main reason behind the fight of the organization in the region appears to be to form a Kurdish state south of the Turkish border. The YPG has been previously blamed for seizing non-Kurdish areas, which contradicts the primary goal of the fight, sparking controversy over an alleged attempt to better the area for a future Kurdish state.
The PYD is a sister organization of the PKK, recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Even though the U.S. does not recognize the PYD or YPG as a terrorist organization, U.S. citizens fighting for the wings of the PKK may face lawsuits back home.